The reigning-champion Atlanta Braves on Friday saw their 14-game winning streak come to an end at Wrigley Field, as the Chicago Cubs edged them, 1-0. The outcome also means that the Cubs have snapped their 10-game losing streak, which was tied for the 13th-longest skid in franchise history.
The Braves' run ends one shy of the modern franchise record of 15 straight wins, which they set in 2000. However, the 14-game run did vault them back into contention. At the close of May, the Braves were four games under .500 and 10 1/2 games behind the Mets in the NL East. Now, even after Friday's loss, the Braves are nine games above .500 with a plus-43 run differential, in playoff position by a half-game, and a more manageable five games behind the first-place Mets.
During the recent streak, the Braves thrived in large measure thanks to power. Across those 14 wins, Atlanta averaged 7.2 runs scored per game and hit 35 home runs.
In the series opener in Chicago, however, those bats were silenced. Cubs starter Keegan Thompson twirled six shutout innings while permitting just two hits and striking out nine. From there, three Cubs relievers combined for three perfect innings. A few deep fly balls from Braves bats died on the warning track thanks to the wind blowing in, but overall the Cubs' pitchers deserve credit.
The lone run in the game scored in the eighth inning by way of some small ball from the home team. Jonathan Villar drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a perfect bunt from Andrelton Simmons. Villar then stole third and rookie Christopher Morel came through with a sac fly.
Two games remain in the series between the two clubs, but Friday was a nice reminder how tough it is to predict baseball outcomes. It was the hottest team in baseball against the coldest and the latter prevailed.