PHILADELPHIA – The Cubs have put themselves in position to make next week’s four-game series in Pittsburgh a potential pivot point in the race for home-field advantage in the one-game wild-card playoff Oct. 7.
But is it really an advantage?
Last year, the San Francisco Giants beat the Pirates on the road behind the big left arm of Madison Bumgarner and went on to win the World Series.
The year before, Cubs manager Joe Maddon, then with the Tampa Bay Rays, managed three consecutive games against three different teams in a four day span – all on the road, all win-or-go-home affairs for the Rays.
“I didn’t see any,” said Maddon, whose Rays that year won in Toronto on Sept. 29, won at Texas in a game No. 163 tiebreaker Sept. 30, then won in Cleveland in the wild-card game Oct. 2.
“I think it’s all about the starting pitcher on both sides on that particular game,” Maddon said.
Two days after the Cleveland win, the Rays lost to Red Sox ace Jon Lester in Boston.
The Cubs have Jake Arrieta lined up for their all-or-nothing one-gamer.
But that doesn’t mean the Cubs are ignoring the opportunity to secure a home date for that Pirates wild-card showdown.
“I think you want it for your fans as much as anything,” Maddon said. “but to say it gives you an advantage or a disadvantage playing the game, I don’t know that it does.”