For the Chicago Cubs, the last few days have felt like Christmas in July.
The team has won five games in a row and will try to stretch it to six on Wednesday afternoon in a Fourth of July matinee.
“When you get to that point and you get that kind of confidence, you don’t want to do anything to nick it.”
Chicago (48-35) has climbed 13 games above .500 to match its high-water mark. The Cubs have a chance to set a new high when they host the Detroit Tigers (38-49) in the finale of a two-game series at Wrigley Field.
All of the Cubs’ five wins during the streak have been in come-from-behind fashion.
“One of our concepts is to score first,” Maddon said. “One of our concepts is to win the inning. But I think this is maybe the residue of our starting pitching not being what it probably is. We’ve given up more runs early from our starters that we didn’t anticipate happening.
“But it’s a tightly knit group. They’re there to pick everybody else up. So, OK, they’ve scored a couple runs. There’s no quit. The chatter in the dugout is great, all that stuff is outstanding. I just think that the come-from-behind component right now is based on our starters not pitching to their capabilities yet.”
That said, the Cubs will look for a solid start from left-hander Jose Quintana (6-6, 4.31 ERA) in his 17th start of the season. The 29-year-old has allowed three earned runs or fewer in nine of his past 12 starts.
In 18 career starts against the Tigers, Quintana is 5-5 with a 4.37 ERA. The Colombia native has walked 26 and struck out 82 in 111 1/3 innings.
The Tigers will counter with veteran left-hander Francisco Liriano (3-4, 3.99 ERA), who is scheduled to make his 13th start of the season. The burly southpaw carries a career record of 105-103 with a 4.14 ERA in 335 career games.
More than a few teams could be scouting the 34-year-old Liriano as the trade deadline approaches. He is coming off a quality start against the Toronto Blue Jays but has not logged a victory since April 17 against the Baltimore Orioles.
In 14 career starts against the Cubs, Liriano is 5-4 with a 3.27 ERA. He most recently faced the club in 2016, when he posted an 0-2 record with a 7.63 ERA in three starts with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Toronto Blue Jays.
The Tigers could turn to a six-man rotation in the next couple weeks, which is fine with Liriano.
“I think that would work,” Liriano said recently to mlive.com. “It wouldn’t bother me at all. I don’t know about any other guys. (Blaine) Hardy has been doing a great job, so it’s hard to put him in the bullpen with the way he’s throwing the ball right now. I think that’s a great idea.”
Injured Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (shoulder) is not expected to play Wednesday. He is hitting .280 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs in 66 games this season.