Sweeping any team in a series is difficult, but the Cubs continue to make the difficult seem routine.
In completing a three-game sweep of the Phillies Sunday with a 7-2 victory, the Cubs notched their sixth series sweep of the season, including one four-game set, two three-game sets and three two-game sets.They had five sweeps all last season.
‘‘That’s because we’re not satisfied with taking a series after the first two games,’’ manager Joe Maddon said. ‘‘Sometimes you’ll see teams not have the same urgency on sweep day.
‘‘I like the fact we keep the same approach. Preparation, they show up the same, and the top or the order sets the table.’’
The victory for John Lackey (5-2) over Vince Velasquez (5-2) was the fifth straight overall but the first sweep of Philadelphia in Wrigley Field since July, 1995.
The Cubs last sweep of the Phillies came in July, 2000 at Veterans Stadium.
Batting 1.000 is baseball perfection at the plate. The 1,000 mark means as much for pitching.
Pitching 1,000 innings in a season is a goal for the Cubs starting rotation, an achievement that would benefit the bullpen as well by keeping it fresh for the late season.
‘‘Any time you can suck up innings from your starters, your bullpen will be better now, and then at the end of the season when you’re getting near 200 innings [individually], your goal is to have 1,000 innings,’’ Maddon said.
‘‘We have some guys pitching pretty good,’’ Lackey said after working seven innings and limiting the Phillies to four hits, one a home run by Tyler Goeddel in the 7th. ‘‘You don’t want to let the other guys down and keep the line moving.’’
Last season, the Cubs used 10 starters and still fell short of the 1,000-inning mark (946 2/3 innings).
This season, the five-man rotation is averaging just over six innings per outing. It’s a pace that would put the starters on target for the goal.
Teams rarely go a full season with the same five starters, but the Cubs have done it so far as they near the first third of the season.
Cubs starters also lead the majors with a 2.49 ERA.
Dodging an ace
The Los Angeles Dodgers arrive today for a four-game series in their lone trip to Wrigley Field. The Cubs won’t see ace Clayton Kershaw, though the Dodgers will face Jake Arrieta, who no-hit them last season.
‘‘Kershaw has become really good. He’s exceptional,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘I always want us to compete against the best, so maybe later in the season [postseason].’’
Put ’er there
The attention given to the Dodgers’ use of lasers to mark defensive positions on Citi Field in New York was “a little over blown’’ in Maddon’s eyes.
“It doesn’t bother me. There are other ways to do the same thing without technology and just by preparation,’’ said Maddon, who was in charge of defensive positioning as a coach for the Angels.