Confident Cubs host Rockies (Jun 08, 2017)

BY AP • June 8, 2017

CHICAGO -- It may be early June, but the arrival of the Colorado Rockies for a four-game Wrigley Field series on Thursday makes it tempting to peek ahead.

The National League West-leading Rockies (38-23) visit the Chicago Cubs (30-28). The defending World Series champs appear to have righted themselves after a recent 0-6 road trip.

The revival invites speculation among fans about the still-far away postseason and whether the teams will meet in October. Players, coaches and managers, however, remain focused on the here and now.

Chicago is in second place in the NL Central, one game behind the Milwaukee Brewers.

Cubs skipper Joe Maddon likes his team's recent direction. The Cubs swept a three-game series from the rival St. Louis Cardinals last weekend, then won two in a row against the Miami Marlins before dropping the series finale 6-5 Wednesday.

"The feeling is a little bit different in the dugout since we've been back home," he said. "The guys are starting to feel it more. It's a little reminiscent of the past two years, and it's a good thing."

The Colorado-Chicago series is the second of two between the teams in the regular season. The Rockies took two of three at Coors Field in early May.

The Cubs send left-hander Jon Lester (3-3, 3.91 ERA) against Rockies righty Tyler Chatwood (5-7, 4.60 ERA) in the opener Thursday night, which will be followed by three day contests.

Lester is 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA in seven home appearances, including six quality starts. In his most recent start, Saturday against the Cardinals, he worked six innings and allowed three runs on six hits in a no-decision.

He also picked off St. Louis' Tommy Pham from first base. It was his first pickoff since 2015.

"It's all about the mind: If you believe you can do it, you can do it," Maddon said. "It's that simple. I know the other teams will definitely jot that down. It's something that needs to be reckoned with."

Lester is 1-2 in three regular-season starts against the Rockies. He has struck out 30 Colorado batters while walking just four in three previous efforts. He also earned the 2007 World Series-clinching win while with Boston at Coors Field.

Like Lester, Chatwood will make his 13th start of the season. It will be his seventh on the road, where he is 3-3 with a 2.68 ERA, tied for eighth in the NL.

Chatwood is 2-0 in two career starts against the Cubs. His lone career start at Wrigley Field came on April 17, 2016, when he worked seven shutout innings while allowing two hits and one walk with seven strikeouts.

Chatwood picked up his second win in his past three starts Saturday in San Diego. In eight innings, he gave up just one run on four hits, walked one and struck out eight in Colorado's 10-1 victory.

He also has had some rough outings, including three starts in which he gave up five runs and lost.

"He does set the bar," Colorado catcher Tony Wolters said. "Guys look up to him. He knows how to pitch. His pitches are plus-plus. Now it's about getting his whole arsenal in control."

The Rockies are coming of a split of a two-game series in Cleveland. Colorado earned a 8-1 win over the Indians on Wednesday, getting a single, a double a triple and three RBIs from Nolan Arenado.



share story