Cubs giving other NL Central teams glimmer of hope

Cubs giving other NL Central teams glimmer of

6 8 17

By Eric Becker

Sports Xtra

Perhaps this past weekend will be the turning point in the Chicago Cubs season.

After going 0-6 and scoring just nine runs in a trip to L.A. and San Diego, the Cubs returned home and promptly swept their biggest division rivals three straight over the weekend.

It was the first sweep for the Cubs over St. Louis since 2010, and the first at Wrigley Field since 2006. The Cardinals won it all that year, 2006, by the way.

Then Monday, they needed a shade under two hours to beat the fish.

But here we are, sitting in the first week of June, and the Cubs are looking up at Milwaukee. But for how much longer?

The Cubs’ talent certainly appears to be superior of that of the Brewers, and the Cardinals, Reds and Pirates. Still, all five teams were log jammed within four games of first place as of this Monday afternoon writing.

St. Louis has its own issues, but figures to get back on track this week, at the Reds and at home for the Phillies.

The Cardinals main problem is their inability to play baseball at a consistently good level.

They started 3-9, went on an 18-6 stretch in early May, and now have gone 5-14 in their last 19 as of Monday. The offense has scored less runs than Philadelphia, the worst team in baseball. It’s just hard to comprehend how many issues the Cardinals have right now.

Hovered around the .500 mark, they can thank their division rival   for not having run away with this division –  yet.

The Cardinals have superior starting pitching to the Cubs, which has had to throw a lot of innings the past two years in deep postseason runs.

Both bullpens have been okay while the Cubs offense has been better than the Cardinals.

St. Louis had to send outfielder Randy Grichuk to Class A ball. Their defense continues to not make the routine play and their base running has to be questioned at times.

I personally think the Cubs have a better chance than the Cardinals of overcoming their recent struggles.

But the Cardinals do have more games left against the Phillies than the Cubs do, so St. Louis does have that going from them, for whatever that is worth.

The NBA playoffs are mercifully coming to an end, where the regular season certainly has to be judged as being better than the postseason.

Golden State hasn’t lost in the playoffs yet. What’s the fun in that? Cleveland has lost three games in the postseason, two in final round.

Steve Kerr returned to the Warriors’ bench on Sunday, so that was nice to see. But the lack of competitive postseason basketball this season has been very disturbing.

I tend to watch the NBA regular season and not the postseason. I wonder why?

What a crazy start to the softball College World Series in Oklahoma City on Monday.

I saw bits and pieces of it and it ended long after I had retired for the evening.

Top seeded Florida twice were down to their final strike against No. 10 Oklahoma, defending national champion. Down 2-1 in the seventh, they tied it with a bloop double in front of the outfielders, who ironically were playing deep to prevent a double. That tied the game, 2-2.

In the 12th, Oklahoma goes back ahead 4-2, only to see Florida again tie it on a two-run double in the bottom of the 12th. Again, one strike away from losing.

Oklahoma hit a three-run home run in the 17th inning and held on this time, the third time the charm, in a 7-5 victory.

They need one more win for their second straight title. Softball doesn’t usually take five and a half hours to play, but it was probably the best national championship game ever played in the sport, which is a best of three series.

Florida has to win twice while Oklahoma once more to repeat as national champs. The two schools have each won two titles in the last four years.