BALTIMORE — It seems the Cubs did this for glimpses in the first half, only to see it regress quickly.
But after averaging a run per inning during their three-game sweep of the Orioles, the Cubs said they sense something fresh and different about the start to the second half, even though much of the damage came against the worst rotation in the majors (6.02 ERA).
‘‘I think we are back,’’ catcher Willson Contreras said. ‘‘Back to where we were last year.’’
Contreras should feel good. He had a career-high four hits in the Cubs’ 8-0 victory Sunday and was 8-for-14 in the series.
But the production came from every corner of the lineup. The Cubs had 41 hits, drew nine walks, hit 10 home runs, went 13-for-27 (.481) with men in scoring position and outscored the Orioles 27-11.
‘‘I just think the time off really helped us, four days to kind of clear our heads and get back to winning,’’ said third baseman Kris Bryant, who went 3-for-4 with his 19th homer in the series finale. ‘‘I know the four days off really helped me, just relaxing a little bit. It was just a matter of time for us, I think, to have some games like that.’’
Maybe the surge, which pushed the Cubs’ record back above .500 at 46-45 and cut their deficit in the National League Central to 4½ games, was about the collective mental breather the break provided. Maybe it had something to do with the opponent. Maybe the emotional lift from the Jose Quintana trade and his dominant performance had something to do with it.
But Maddon said it was neither the hitting nor the pitching that stood out.
‘‘Energy,’’ he said. ‘‘The most impressive part has been the energy. I really believe that if we play with that kind of internal fire, that energy, we’re going to win a lot of games in the second half. That’s the difference for me. It’s just how we feel about ourselves.’’
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