- Doug Padilla, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO – Improved play won’t stop the Cubs from making trades, but the numbers are starting to get impressive.
The Cubs improved to 11-4 in their last 14 games and they now have a 27-15 record when they score more than four runs. They are also 5-1 over their last six games and 6-2 in their last eight games against left-handed pitching.
The numbers at home also look good. The Cubs have won a season-high five consecutive games at Wrigley Field, the first time since July 22-Aug. 6 2011 they gave done that. They have also won seven of their last eight in their own park.
The improvement at home has given the Cubs a 21-20 record at Wrigley, the first time they have been over .500 at home since they were 6-5 on April 23, 2011.
The arrival of Anthony Rizzo has been an influence as he has not only provided production at the plate but has brought solid defense. He helped to end Saturday’s victory by starting a 3-6-1 double play, moving to his right to field a ground ball, then throwing to Starlin Castro while on the move.
“The double plays, I don't know how many we had today, three or four I guess, but they all came at the right time,” said manager Dale Sveum, whose team was credited with three double plays, two of them started by Rizzo. “That one at the end was real nice. Rizzo didn't panic or anything, gave Castro a perfect feed to where he could get off a strong throw too so that was nice.”
The winning ways have simply come too late, though, and the plans to trade off veteran pieces for young talent will continue.
“As far as the moves we make, we made our bed really in May and June to where we aren’t going to compete for a wild-card spot this year,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “But it doesn’t mean we aren’t happy with the way we are playing. It’s nice to see us play more clean games and be much better offensively. It’s amazing how much the vibe around the team has picked up.”
Sveum has helped guide the turnaround using a steady hand.
“When the team is struggling as we did for a month and a half or so, it’s hard to be upbeat and be the same person,” Hoyer said. “I think he did a great job of being the same person. Our success over the last few weeks is a result of that and I think that bodes well for the future.”
Unfortunately for Sveum, his hard work to get the team playing better won’t count for much once trades start to go down.
“All it is is talk until it all happens you don't deal with it,” Sveum said of the trade rumors. “I have enough to deal with without worrying about somebody getting traded tonight or tomorrow. I got enough to worry about with just getting the lineup out there and keeping everything together as it is right now.”
2dJohn Jackson, Special to ESPN.com