The Chicago Cubs started their road trip on a down note, but they’re coming back home feeling pretty good about themselves.
The Cubs look to build on their momentum as they open a three-game interleague series with the Toronto Blue Jays at Wrigley Field.
Starter Mark Prior sustained a compression fracture near his right elbow three days before the trip began and joined starter Kerry Wood on the disabled list. However, the Cubs went 6-1 on their West Coast swing, sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers and taking three of four from the San Diego Padres.
“Without a doubt, with all the adversity we had, I think people expected us to go the other way,” first baseman Derrek Lee said. “We haven’t. We’ve kept our heads up and we’ve been playing great baseball.”
Lee, who leads the majors with a .385 batting average, went 16-for-33 (.485) with four doubles and six RBIs on the trip. He went 3-for-5 with two doubles, an RBI and a run in Sunday’s 4-0 win over San Diego.
“The key was for us to start swinging the bats,” Lee said. “We weren’t scoring runs. Now we’re getting the pitchers the lead and they’re holding it. That’s good baseball.”
Neifi Perez, who went 14-for-34 (.412) on the trip, went 3-for-5 with two runs for Chicago, which has won nine out of its last 10 overall. The shutout was the Cubs’ second in the series with the Padres.
“Just keep it coming,” manager Dusty Baker said.
The Blue Jays are coming off Sunday’s 12-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics— their seventh loss in 10 games. Vernon Wells hit a two-run homer for Toronto, came within a run of matching its season high for runs allowed.
“It was just one of those days: a waste of our time,” manager John Gibbons said. “They came out swinging. They were going to whack it around no matter what we threw at them.”
The Blue Jays and Cubs met in an interleague series in 2002, which Toronto won 2-1. This series will wrap up a stretch of 20 games without an off-day for the Cubs.