this writer has characterized an early violation of the five back rule as a death knell -- and it is.
however -- though nothing would be more surprising to this writer than to see this mediocre club with its mediocre offense (an estimate thus far essentially verified, as it plates 4.63 runs/game with a .313 babip) spontaneously revive -- once in a while folks wake up and pop out of the coffin.
the trick, of course, is to wake up before you're buried. this series is to be followed by a run of nine games -- six against pittsburgh, three against washington -- that must be the smelling salts for this club if it is to regain much hope. chances are, if it isn't the salts, it's probably the myrrh.
the cubs have done all they can to seize the chance, taking both from saint louis before two of three from pittsburgh, and now the opener against washington at home. going back to a sweep-avoiding win on april 25, the cubs have strung together seven wins in eight chances -- and in high style. lucky pitching has continued apace as the offense has raked, stretching the team's positive run differential to a boggling +31 (133 over 102, 30% more runs scored than allowed). the club has added another blowout win, running their record to 7-1 in games decided by more than five; they've yet to win a one-run game (0-6). as noted, that imbalance explains the huge differential and the poor record, and though it will revert in both aspects it is nonetheless a better situation than its opposite.
however -- as if to underscore just how difficult a six-game gap can be to close -- the division leading milwaukee brewers have held the cubs at bay, maintaining a five-game lead. more is needed from the cubs -- the team has to continue to pour it on, be the driver luck or skill, in order to bridge the divide.