“Jake, you guys have won 14 out of 15 games. Do you remember ever being on a roll like that in your career?”
Remember? The media doesn’t even seem to be able to remember when this one started for these Cubs, based on the question to Saturday’s winning pitcher Jake Arrieta.
For the record, the Cubs won for the 15th time in 16 games when they beat the White Sox 6-3 Saturday night on the South Side.
It’s only the second time in 70 years the Cubs have gone on a 15-1 run (also 2001, when they lost the next one).
“We just know we’re on a good run,” said Arrieta (14-6), who pitched 6 2/3 innings for his 11th consecutive quality start (1.35 ERA in that stretch).
“We don’t necessarily know how many in a row it is,” he said. “We just know we’re winning. That’s the most important thing. We’re not going to win them all. But if we keep playing the way we are, we’re going to be in a good spot.”
Good spot? The Cubs are firmly in playoff position in the National League with 47 games left, breathing down the necks of the Pittsburgh Pirates for the top wild-card spot in the N.L.
“You get to the point where you expect to win,” said first-year Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who saw these kind of surges with some of his young Tampa Bay Rays teams in recent years. “You expect to win regardless of who you’re playing. Not to denigrate the other team – it could be the ’27 Yankees.”
Babe Ruth meet Kyle Schwarber.
“Our guys are out there playing playoff-caliber baseball,” said Maddon, who got seven hits and three RBIs from rookies Saturday night.
“Effort, intensity, their look, their want-to – whatever you want to call it. … Definitely, they believe that we can do this.”
The 16-game surge includes a nine-game winning streak they take into Sunday’s series finale against the Sox.
The last time they had a 16-1 run: 1945. For a longer run with a single loss, you have to go back to the 21-game winning streak of 1935.
And this: They can have a losing record the rest of the season (23-24) and still finish with 90 wins.
“We’re in position right now,” Arrieta said. “In the hunt.”
And in large part because of starting pitching like Arrieta’s. After what seemed like a breakout year in 2014, Arrieta already has surpassed much of what he did last year.
He has career highs in wins and, after Saturday, innings (162).
And he’s 3-0 with a 0.84 ERA in three starts this month.
Arrieta had a career-high 18 2/3-inning scoreless streak snapped with an unearned run in the second (created by his throwing error).
“I’ve been throwing well. I expect to do that,” he said. “We’re on a really good roll right now, and the next guy up is just looking to keep that going.”