Cubs sweep SD: 'We're pretty damn good'

June 2nd, 2021

CHICAGO -- The inning that helped the Cubs pull away from the Padres on Wednesday afternoon was ignited by a triple. It was later punctuated with a rocket of a home run off the bat of .

And that was a fitting summation of the North Siders' sweep of San Diego this week at Wrigley Field. The 6-1 win over the Padres wrapped up a three-game brooming that featured some spark from some unexpected sources, but also plenty of star power.

"When we talk about it in Spring Training," Cubs manager David Ross said, "it taking the entire roster and the organization to do special things, I think that's what we're talking about."

The Cubs have been on a special run for the past month.

The Padres arrived at Wrigley Field this week with the best record in the National League. The Cubs swept them away in front of an electric ballpark building toward a capacity crowd. Chicago also has sweeps of talented Dodgers and Mets squads at home this season. 

Dating back to the three victories over Los Angeles in early May -- a sweep that included a doubleheader and consecutive walk-off wins -- the North Siders have rattled off 20 wins in 27 games. That includes a 5-1 showing on this homestand. Chicago has done so with an injured-list ledger that recently expanded to a dozen names.

The setbacks set off a surge, rather than initiating a slump.

"Right now we're the best team in this division, to be honest," said Cubs starter Adbert Alzolay, who limited San Diego to one run over five innings in Wednesday's win. "If you see this whole team all the way around, you'll see that we have the whole talent to compete, to win another World Series for this city. I think that's the mindset right now."

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo has won a World Series in this city, helping end that famous century-plus drought for the franchise five years ago. He would love another ring before potentially exiting stage left, but he is also keeping things in perspective.

Coming off a 19-8 showing in May and two more wins to begin what could be a grueling June, Rizzo knows it is far too early to declare that the NL Central-leading Cubs have proved preseason prognosticators wrong.

"I don't think we've really proven much. It's June 2," Rizzo reminded. "We've proven to each other how much fun we're having and how good we are. But we've got four more months left. Stories were written about how good and bad people were this time last year after 60 games. But it's 162.

"And we're definitely not going to get too high and say, 'We're proving everyone wrong,' because we've got a long season left. It's day by day. And tomorrow will be another big game for us."

Yes, come Thursday, the Cubs will be in San Francisco to begin a seven-game swing against the Giants and Padres. That marks the start of a June slate with 18 road games in all, including stops to play the Mets, Dodgers and Brewers. St. Louis, Miami and Cleveland will come to Wrigley.

How the Cubs play over the next few weeks could begin to form the front office's thinking about how to approach the July 30 Trade Deadline.

Rizzo knows that storyline all too well, too.

"We can't control from now until then," he said. "But we can control just coming in and doing what we need to do and be ready to play. Going to San Francisco, they’re a team that's playing really well and we need to be ready to go."

Until some of the injured players return, the Cubs will keep looking to the likes of Alcántara, who led off the seventh with a triple and scored two batters later. They will continue to count on core stars like Rizzo (two doubles, three hits and two RBIs) and Báez (two-run homer in the seventh).

On a day when two more stars (Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras) had days off, Alcántara reached base twice and catcher P.J. Higgins collected his first career hit in the Majors. Patrick Wisdom -- filling in for sidelined third baseman Matt Duffy -- also had a hit, giving him six (with three homers) in the sweep.

"If anything," Ross said, "this last homestand and the last couple weeks has showed how important it is to have depth in your organization and good players to come up and be ready."

And those contributions have continued to fuel the confidence within the Cubs' clubhouse.

"I think we're pretty damn good, yeah. I do," Ross said. "The guys in that room believe in themselves. They believe in each other. You see it on a daily basis. We've got some really good players -- a lot of hardware that floats around that room."