(Photo credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports)
A week of matchups against opponents near or at the bottom of the standings is ending for the Chicago Cubs.
They'll face the Colorado Rockies in their final home game of the regular season on Sunday, and then it's all uphill for the Cubs in their bid to make the playoffs for the first time since2020.
The Cubs (81-74) are scheduled to hit the road for three games at the Atlanta Braves beginning Tuesday, followed by three more at the Milwaukee Brewers next weekend.
The Braves enter play Sunday with a 13 1/2-game lead atop the National League East, while the Brewers own a seven-game lead atop the NL Central. The Braves have won the East, and the Brewers need just one win or one Chicago loss to clinch the Central.
Chicago, meanwhile, enters Sunday's game clinging to the final wild-card spot in the NL, one game ahead of the Miami Marlins.
The Cubs helped themselves on Saturday by rallying from an early 3-1 deficit to pull out a 6-3 win against the Rockies to give them two straight victories after dropping seven of eight.
Before hosting the Rockies, the Cubs dropped two of three to the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates, who are seven games below .500.
"That's not a good team that just took two of three from us -- or not our caliber team, I believe -- and we've got to turn it around," Chicago manager David Ross said of the series against Pittsburgh. "It's on me. It's on the guys in that room."
Against the Rockies (56-98), who own the worst record in the NL, the Cubs bounced back with a 6-0 win in the series opener on Friday before their come-from-behind win on Saturday.
"Real good team win," Ross said after Saturday's victory. "Guys are going to have to step up."
The Cubs had planned to send Javier Assad to the mound for the series finale, but he came on in relief during Saturday's game after starter Marcus Stroman went just three innings in his first start since July 31.
It proved to be a wise move, as Assad threw four scoreless innings to key the win.
Left-hander Jordan Wicks is now set to start for the Cubs on Sunday. Wicks (3-1, 2.67 ERA) last pitched on Sept. 17, allowing three runs and four hits in 4 1/3 innings of a 6-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Prior to that, the rookie faced the Rockies on Sept. 11 and held them to one run and three hits in six innings of a 5-4 win.
The Rockies plan to counter with left-hander Ty Blach on Sunday.
Blach (3-2, 5.32) beat the Cubs on Sept. 13, limiting them to three runs and nine hits over five innings en route to a 7-3 win, part of a five-game Cubs' losing streak that put a dent in Chicago's playoff charge.
Blach's other win this month came against the Toronto Blue Jays, who are fighting for an American League wild-card spot.
"I've had a lot of ups and downs, at times, and it's just kind of perseverance and just trusting my process (by) continuing to put in the work (and) finding little tweaks here and there," Blach said. "Things that can make me better and just enjoying every opportunity I can right now."
Blach is 5-1 with a 4.62 ERA in seven appearances (four starts) against Chicago in his career.
--Field Level Media