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MLB News: Cubs Complete Crucial Sweep of Brewers

Jul 24, 2019; San Francisco, CA, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (17) celebrates with shortstop Javier Baez (9) after hitting a two run home run against the San Francisco Giants during the third inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

With their team complete after the trade deadline and the races for the National League Central and Wild Card heating up, the Chicago Cubs had perhaps their best weekend of the year. They swept the Milwaukee Brewers, who are chasing the same goals, playing clean games and climbing the standings.

The Cubs completed the Wrigley Field sweep Sunday with a 7-2 victory behind Yu Darvish, a pitcher who hasn’t always lived up to his reputation in Chicago. But he was good Sunday, giving the Cubs another reason to feel optimistic about their final 50 games.

A new No. 2 hitter

One problem the Cubs, talented as they are, have had in the first four months of the season has been getting runners on base for their powerful sluggers.

Their main acquisition at the trade deadline might have solved the problem. Chicago received outfielder Nicholas Castellanos from the Detroit Tigers.

Castellanos isn’t a huge slugger, but he does get on base. Batting in the No. 2 spot, Castellanos went 4 for 13 with two doubles (giving him 39 for the season) in the three games against the Brewers. The numbers aren’t overwhelming, but they’re certainly enough to help win tight games.

Castellanos was aboard in the third inning Friday when Javier Baez struck the game’s big blow, a three-run home run that broke a 1-1 tie. And he drove in a key run in the Cubs’ tiebreaking rally Sunday.

Power pitching

The real common denominator in the Cubs’ sweep, however, was starting pitching.

Jose Quintana allowed two earned runs in six innings in Friday’s 6-2 victory. Cole Hamels twirled five shutout innings in a 4-1 victory Saturday. And Darvish followed suit Sunday.

If the Cubs can get their talented starters mostly pitching up to their ability, it makes them the absolute division favorite over the Brewers and Cardinals, who also are in the race.

And they’ll need it: Chicago still has seven games left with each of those rivals in the final month of the season, plus series against playoff contenders Oakland (this week), Philadelphia and Washington before August is up.

Written by GMS staff report

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