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Cubs 10, Athletics 1: Now comes the hard part

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The Cubs completed another successful homestand by blowing out the A’s.

John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images

The Chicago Cubs are a juggernaut at Wrigley Field.

Wednesday afternoon’s 10-1 crushing of the Athletics completed a 5-1 homestand and made them 12-3 at home after the All-Star break.

All they have to do is replicate this success on the upcoming 10-game road trip and the N.L. Central should be theirs for the taking. Easier said than done based on previous road results, I know.

For now, though, let’s celebrate a big win over a very good A’s team.

Neither team did much over the first three innings. A third-inning single by Victor Caratini was the only hit by either the Cubs or A’s. A leadoff double by Marcus Semien in the fourth was Oakland’s first hit, and two fly outs later, the A’s had a 1-0 lead.

That was their highlight of the game, as the Cubs offense exploded in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Kris Bryant singled and Anthony Rizzo was hit by a pitch. Javier Baez batted next [VIDEO].

That was a really nice piece of hitting, taking a fastball on the outside corner the other way for an RBI single that tied the game. A walk to Kyle Schwarber loaded the bases and brought up Ian Happ [VIDEO].

Another fastball right in the zone and Happ crushed it:

Fun Cubs grand slam facts:

There are 48 games remaining in the 2019 season to break that 90-year-old record.

Anyway, that quickly it was 5-1 Cubs, and that was definitely the Homer Bailey I remember from his time with the Reds.

Q allowed another leadoff double in the fifth, but after three groundouts, the Cubs got to work again in the bottom of the inning.

Nicholas Castellanos doubled with one out. That was his sixth double in seven games with the Cubs, and 43rd of the season. After Bryant popped up, Rizzo singled. That was it for Bailey, but reliever Lou Trivino didn’t do much better. Javy did it again [VIDEO].

Yet another fine piece of oppo hitting by Javy, and now it’s 6-1.

It didn’t stay 6-1 for long, thanks to Schwarber [VIDEO].

The rout, as they say, was on.

Meanwhile, Quintana was mowing down A’s hitters. The two doubles were the only baserunners off Q in seven outstanding innings. He threw 60 strikes in 94 pitches and struck out seven, one of his best outings of the year. Keep up the great work, Q.

The Cubs added one more run in the last of the eighth. Join the homer parade, Victor Caratini! [VIDEO]

Victor’s sixth of the year went a long way:

Meanwhile, David Phelps and Pedro Strop threw a pair of scoreless innings. It was Pedro’s first outing since coming off the injured list. He was generally decent, though he allowed a single and hit a batter. He was sitting around 93 on his fastball but threw mostly sliders in this outing (12 of 18 total pitches). It was a good time to give him an inning of work, I thought.

It was also nice to see Bryant have two singles in this game, both hard hit. The Cubs need his bat the way it was before he tweaked his knee last month in San Francisco.

The Cubs’ three homers on the afternoon give them 179 for the season, a pace for 254. The franchise record is 235, set in 2004.

A couple of discordant notes: Jason Heyward dived into first base trying to beat out an infield grounder in the sixth. I concur with this:

And in the seventh, Baez fouled a ball off his foot and seemed bothered by it after hitting into a double play and not being able to run very well down the line. With the Cubs up by eight, it was a good time to give Javy the rest of the afternoon off. Hopefully, it’ll be iced and he’ll be fine to play Thursday.

As posted here earlier this afternoon, the Cubs have signed Jonathan Lucroy to back up Caratini until Willson Contreras returns. He’ll be on the roster Thursday:

It should be noted that Lucroy not only caught Cole Hamels in Texas, he also caught Yu Darvish there in 2016 and 2017, so there’s going to be instant familiarity. That should be really helpful. And just in case you haven’t followed the musical chairs of MLB catchers recently:

No wonder Lucroy looks puzzled in that photo.

The Dodgers defeated the Cardinals 2-1 on a walkoff two-run single by Russell Martin, so the Cardinals now trail the Cubs by 3½ games. The Brewers, three games back, move into second place pending their game tonight at Pittsburgh.

The “hard part” noted in the headline here is the 11-day, 10-game road trip that starts Thursday evening against the Reds in Cincinnati. You all know how poorly the Cubs have played on the road. That’s obviously going to have to change, and now. Personally? I’d be fine if the Cubs could go 5-5 on this trip. Hamels will throw the series opener against Alex Wood for the Reds. Game time Thursday is 6:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via NBC Sports Chicago.