The Chicago Cubs figure to be in a good mood when they open a six-game homestand starting Tuesday night against the San Francisco Giants.
For one thing, the Cubs own a dominant 41-19 record at home this season. For another, the team is coming off a winning trip to Williamsport, Pa., where players mingled with Little League players before cruising to a 7-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday night.
Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Cole Hamels and others took turns sliding down a grass hill with kids before the game. Little Leaguers filled the stands and provided a boost of energy to the club with six weeks left in the regular season.
"It put a smile on everybody's faces," Cubs president Theo Epstein told reporters. "Hopefully that carries over and we start to play with a little bit of joy and remember it's a game -- all that good stuff that helps you always, especially during a time when things aren't going that great."
Chicago has won two in a row but sputtered to a 4-6 road trip. The Cubs are in a tight race for the top spot in the National League Central division along with the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers.
Hamels (6-4, 3.69 ERA) is scheduled to make his 21st start. He hopes to bounce back from a pair of ugly outings, including his last time out against the Philadelphia Phillies in which he allowed eight runs in two innings.
The 35-year-old southpaw owns a career record of 162-118 with a 3.41 ERA and 2,522 strikeouts. Some of that success has come against the Giants, against whom he is 6-4 with a 4.33 ERA in 16 starts.
As the Cubs return home, San Francisco continues its nine-game road trip with three games in Chicago following four games in Arizona that started the trip. The Giants took three of four against the Diamondbacks.
Right-hander Tyler Beede (3-7, 5.77) is scheduled to make his 16th start and 18th appearance overall on the year. He has not earned a victory in any of his last six starts, going 0-4 with a 6.32 ERA during that span. He has given up eight home runs over his last 31 1/3 innings, and opponents are hitting .321 against him in that time.
"The stuff is there," Beede said in comments published by the San Francisco Examiner after his most recent start. "But the attack just wasn't where I needed it to be in terms of getting ahead of guys."
Beede is 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA in one career start against the Cubs, which took place July 24 in San Francisco. He gave up four runs on 10 hits, including three homers, in 5 2/3 innings. Javier Baez, Bryant and recently demoted Albert Almora Jr. all went deep in the 4-1 win for Chicago.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy expressed confidence in the 26-year-old Beede, who was the Giants' first-round pick (No. 14 overall) in 2014 out of Vanderbilt. It is the same program that produced starting pitchers David Price, Sonny Gray, Walker Buehler, Mike Minor and others.
"We're just trying to get him over the hump," Bochy told the newspaper. "It's still a work in progress, and we'll keep working."
--Field Level Media
Jubilant Cubs aim for strong showing against Giants