The Chicago Cubs will go for their sixth win in a row when they visit the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night.
Chicago has put together five straight wins to improve to 9-2, matching its best start after 11 games since 2016, when the club went on to capture its first World Series title in more than a century. The Cubs are the only team with a winning record in the National League Central entering Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Kansas City has lost five consecutive games and seven of its last eight.
The teams wrapped up two games in Chicago before flying to Kansas City for two more. The Cubs won 2-0 on Monday and held on to win 5-4 on Tuesday despite a Royals rally that featured two runs in the ninth.
Kansas City now will turn to left-hander Kris Bubic (0-1, 4.50 ERA), who is scheduled to make his second career start. The Stanford product was the No. 40 overall draft pick in 2018 and quickly rose through the Royals’ farm system.
In his big-league debut Friday against the Chicago White Sox, Bubic gave up three runs (two earned) in four innings. He walked one and struck out three, and he threw 45 of 76 pitches for strikes.
“I’m trying to soak it all in as much as I can,” Bubic said to reporters. “The circumstances may be a little bit different this year, but at the end of the day, I’m just trying to soak in and absorb as much information from the veterans in the clubhouse and trying to gain some knowledge that they’ve experienced throughout their careers.”
A familiar face could greet Bubic from the Cubs’ lineup. The southpaw was college teammates with Cubs infielder Nico Hoerner, and the two have known each other since high school.
“That’s gonna be pretty cool,” Bubic said. “We were actually facing each other over the quarantine a little bit. We had a couple live at-bats against each other about a month-and-a-half ago. He actually drilled a line drive right back at me — in the thigh. Left me a nice bruise.”
The Cubs will put their winning streak in the hands of right-hander Yu Darvish (1-1, 2.70), who will make his third start of 2020. He is coming off a sterling performance in which he held the Pittsburgh Pirates to two hits in six scoreless innings.
Darvish is 2-1 with a 2.34 ERA in five career starts against Kansas City. He last faced the Royals in 2017.
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said first-year manager David Ross deserves much of the credit for the team’s fast start. Epstein tabbed Ross as Joe Maddon’s successor during the offseason.
“He has stepped in and helped address some things that have been lingering for years,” Epstein said. “And to do that his first month on the job, essentially, the first two weeks as a regular-season manager, is just really impressive. It just shows he’s fearless. He’s alert, observant and has great emotional intelligence.”
–Field Level Media