After a tough start to 2019, Cubs get themselves back into first in the NL Central

CHICAGO — Jumping to the top of the division in May typically isn’t met with a grand celebration, and 2019 is no different.

But getting into first place in the National League Central on Sunday does feel a bit better than it might have in years past. On April 5th, a 13-10 loss to the Brewers put the Cubs record at 1-6 as their disastrous start had many wondering if preseason concerns were real.

One month to the day on Sunday, they’re seven games over .500 after a strong run over the last month, playing their best baseball of the young season.

Crushing their biggest rival on a national stage also helps to make it feel better, too.

A 13-5 drubbing of the Cardinals puts the Cubs record at 19-12, a half-game better than St. Louis for the top of the NL Central. Since falling to 1-6 on April 5th, the Cubs have gone 18-6 and are playing as well as any team in Major League Baseball.

It’s the first time the Cubs have been in first place since opening day in Texas, and they used another well-rounded performance to make it happen.

The offense turned a close game into a rout by scoring ten runs in the final 13 innings, capped off by a Kris Bryant Grand Slam in the bottom of the 8th inning. Meanwhile, Jose Quintana was consistent in his six innings, scattering eight hits but allowing just two runs while striking out two and walking a pair of runners.

That effort was plenty for the Cubs, who’ve now made up for a bad start and then some over the past month of this still very young season.

Willson Contreras started the scoring with a solo homer in the second inning, and the Cubs added two more on the fifth on a triple by Jason Heyward then a David Bote sacrifice fly. Up 3-0, Quintana yielded his only runs of the night in the sixth when Yadier Molina’s double brought in two to cut the lead to one.

Anthony Rizzo got those back with a double in the bottom half of the six and Contreras’ RBI single made it 6-2 as the Cubs’ offense rolled from there. Bryant’s Grand Slam in the 8th capped that six-run frame that put the game away, and for a moment, but the Cubs into a satisfying place in the division standings.

 

 

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