Now the fun begins. The Cubs entered August having won four of their final five July games, but that was "just" against the Rockies (and one vs. the Brewers). Who knew what fun was coming our way?
19-9. That's the best Cubs August since 2008, when they went 20-8. It included the last three wins of a five-game winning streak, then a nine-game streak, then a six-game streak.
The Giants series has been cited by many, including Joe Maddon, as the "turning point" of the season, the moment the Cubs really began to believe in themselves. A four-game sweep of the defending World Series champions, who were also in hot pursuit of the Cubs for a wild-card spot, was definitely one of the highlights of the year.
There were so many good wins this month that it was hard to choose just one.
But I think I'll go with Jake Arrieta's no-hitter August 30 at Dodger Stadium.
Honorable mention in this category to the following victories:
Again one strike away from victory August 10 at Wrigley against the Brewers, Hector Rondon wild-pitched in the tying run. Miguel Montero hit a walkoff homer in the 10th inning for a 3-2 win.
Jake Arrieta and two relievers combined for a four-hit shutout of the Pirates August 4 in Pittsburgh. The offense generated 15 hits in the 5-0 win. How about a repeat of that tomorrow?
One out short of a complete-game shutout in a rainout-makeup game August 24 at Wrigley Field against the Indians, Jon Lester gave up a game-tying single to Carlos Santana. With two out in the bottom of the ninth, Kris Bryant launched a Zach McAllister pitch into the right-field bleachers for another walkoff homer. You want to see that one again, right?
That video includes Pedro Strop's strut in from the bullpen accompanying Bryant. Good times.
Only nine losses to choose from here, which is good! I'm going to give it to the 10-8 loss to the Tigers August 18 at Wrigley Field, which included a severe thunderstorm that produced a delay of 2:17 and a blown Cubs lead in the eighth inning. The last Tigers run was allowed by James Russell, who got pounded for five more the next night and was let go at the end of the month.
Best individual monthly performance
Arrieta wins this one again -- six starts, six wins, 0.43 ERA, the no-hitter, 43 strikeouts in 42⅓ innings.
Bryant deserves mention here as well: .330/.422/.620 (33-for-100) with six doubles, a triple, seven home runs and 20 RBI.
Toughest individual monthly performance
Keeping Jon Lester away from the Tigers is a good idea (fortunately, the Cubs won't face them again until 2018). He got pounded by them twice, posting a 15.43 ERA against them in seven total innings. The bad outing he had in August against them helped balloon his ERA to 5.04 for the month.
Probably that immense thunderstorm on August 18, which forced everyone in the ballpark to take shelter while there were tornado warnings within 75 miles of Wrigley Field.
Wednesday: A look at the Cubs in September and October 2015.