CHICAGO – About a week ago, there was some hope that perhaps this series would mostly be about bragging rights.
The White Sox and the Cubs each held the lead in their division by a few games and looked in solid position to clinch those titles before the second City Series starts at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday.
But things have changed a bit in a week for each club, with one trying to hold onto their lead with the other in a position to have to chase for this particular championship.
The latter is for the White Sox, who saw their three game lead just six days ago disappear thanks to five-straight losses. The last four of those came at the hands of the Indians; two on walk-off hits and another on Thursday after the team dropped a three-run lead in the seventh inning.
Now the White Sox trail Minnesota by a game in the AL Central and may need to sweep the Cubs to remain in contention for the title.
“As we continue to move forward, hopefully this will be an experience we can take and use with our guys and continue to try to stay positive, obviously,” said manager Rick Renteria of the losing streak.
Things are a bit better for the Cubs since they had a big lead going into last week and the teams behind them haven’t been able to make up enough ground in time. Milwaukee’s win over St. Louis in the first of a doubleheader on Friday means the team’s “Magic Number” is just two to win their first NL Central title since 2017.
Still there is some worry since the Cubs lost their final two games to the Twins last weekend at Wrigley Field then dropped three-of-four games to the Pirates in Pittsburgh. In those last three games – all losses – the struggling Cubs’ offense could only muster three runs and were shutout Thursday in a seven-run defeat.
Javier Baez, who is hitting just .196 on the season, said the hitting woes and the recent slump haven’t hurt the club’s attitude approaching the final series.
“We’ve been really good in the clubhouse. We’ve been staying together, we’ve been having fun. We have fun when we win, we have fun when we lose,” said Baez.
Both teams are heading to the postseason, after all, but playing a little better before the start of them now relies on what they do against each other.