History was made when the Cubs beat the Angels 3-1 on Wednesday.
What, you didn’t hear?
The victory put the Cubs’ record at 71-41, the first time they reached 30 games over .500 so early in the season since — brace for it — 1969.
The Cubs of Banks, Williams, Santo, Durocher and a certain black cat also hit the 30-games-over mark for the first time in their 112th contest of the season. A seven-game winning streak left them at 71-41 and — you know where this is going — out in front of the second-place Mets in the N.L. East by a seemingly insurmountable nine games.
Holy humiliation: The Cubs went 21-29 the rest of the way; the Mets were 41-15.
Zero chance the 2016 Cubs crawl up their own you-know-whats and disappear like that, right?
Right. For crying out loud, of course.
Let’s pretend we didn’t even ask.
Up: Clutch hitting is one of the many reasons Anthony Rizzo is in a strong position to win the N.L. MVP award. Rizzo has driven in 15 game-winning runs, tied for the most in the major leagues with the Nationals’ Daniel Murphy.
Over the last three seasons, Rizzo’s 47 game-winning RBIs ranks third in the majors. The Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson has 51 and the Angels’ Albert Pujols 50.
Up: With Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw shut down open-endedly, Kyle Hendricks is the healthy starter with the puniest ERA — 2.17 — in baseball. Yet Jason Hammel has been the Cubs’ best pitcher since the All-Star break, going 5-0 with a 1.16 ERA.
In 2015, Jake Arrieta was 5-0 with a 0.41 ERA out of the break. Mark Prior in 2003 (5-0, 1.00) and Greg Maddux in 1990 (5-0, 0.84) were spectacular. Hammel is in fine company.
Up: The Cubs’ red-hot August includes three straight victories in games when they scored fewer than four runs. For the season, the Cubs are only 9-33 when scoring fewer than four — which makes them a preposterously good 62-8 when scoring four or more.
1 THROUGH 9
1. Cubs: They’ve won seven of eight series since the All-Star break. The lone exception: a four-game push against the beloved White Sox.
2. Nationals: The only N.L. team that has five players with 50 or more RBIs apiece, and Anthony Rendon is knocking at the door with 48.
3. Blue Jays: The cream has risen in the A.L. East, though it won’t be easy for the Jays to hold on to first place. Your big-league leader in wins: J.A. Happ, with 16.
4. Rangers: No team in baseball can touch these guys’ 26-8 record in one-run games.
5. Indians: August has been a grind, but there are no signs of an impending collapse. Doesn’t hurt that the Tigers have cooled off.
6. Dodgers: What’s more impressive than their 23-14 record since Kershaw got hurt? Dare we suggest Dave Roberts has a shot at N.L. manager of the year?
7. Orioles: It only seems like Chris Davis ends every rally by striking out. Still, there’s huge power all over this lineup.
8. Giants: That thing that happened in Miami? It’s called winning a series. Maybe it’ll get this team going again.
9. Mariners: Hot is hot, and the M’s have been hotter than any team in baseball other than — what’s their name again? — the Cubs.
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