The Cubs will have one more chance Sunday to win their 57th game at Wrigley Field and set a new record for home wins in a season.
Their success at Wrigley cannot be understated. The Cubs entered Saturday’s game with the best home record in baseball and are now 23-10 at home against teams with winning records in the National League.
Credit for their success certainly goes, in part, to the starting rotation, a few MVP candidates and Joe Maddon, in no particular order.
But also deserving of some credit is the new and improved Wrigley Field clubhouse and facilities. The club’s spacious new digs include everything from a party room to a “quiet room,” and the team says the clubhouse is the biggest in the National League.
“I think it has had an impact,” Maddon said. “It’s comfortable, but not comfortable to the point where it lets you sag into an easy chair and you don’t want to go outside. … Everything you could possibly ask for to be successful is here.”
Also helpful is the large disparity between what the Cubs enjoy in their home clubhouse and what the visitors get. The visiting clubhouse hasn’t been renovated yet.
The cramped visitors clubhouse was reason for Cardinals manager Mike Matheny to not require his players to arrive as early as usual for Saturday’s noon game.
“I could either have them show up here really early and all be sitting on each other’s laps all day,” Matheny said, “or we show up a little later and get the work in and get on the field.”
The new clubhouse may be extra helpful in October when the weather starts to turn.
“That’ll help,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said. “In the postseason you do spend a lot of time indoors and waiting in the clubhouse. Anything they could possibly want is there. And I think the coffee machine will be working. That’s a good plus.”
The Cubs activated Pedro Strop from the 15-day disabled list Friday and wasted no time getting him back into game action.
Strop pitched one inning in the Cubs’ 5-0 victory over the Cardinals Friday. He faced three batters, walked one and struck out one.
The right-hander said he plans to make five appearances, including Friday’s, before playoff games begin. He also plans to play in back-to-back games at least once before the postseason.
“I feel good,” Strop said Saturday. “I thought I was going to be really sore today, because like it was my first real game in a long time. But it feels really good. It was only like nine, 10 pitches.”
Strop went on the DL on Aug. 11 with a left meniscus tear.