Chicago Cubs 2016: Top moments from the season

Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports /
3 of 9
Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

May: Cubs meet their challenge and sweep their competitors

The Chicago Cubs continued their strong start in May. They had a record of 18-10 in May. The highlight of the month was a period early in the month when they faced their division rivals, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Washington Nationals.

The Cubs beat the Pirates in the 2015 Wild Card game, and there was some bad blood there. Pittsburgh was in second place in the NL Central and they wanted to show the Cubs they were a force to be reckoned with. That did not happen, though, as the Cubs swept the Pirates.

The Cubs then faced the Nationals. At the time of the four-game series, the Cubs had the best record in baseball. The Nationals had the second-best record in baseball. They also had Bryce Harper, the reigning NL MVP.

Harper was in the middle of another MVP-type season. He had a hitting slash of .266/.372/.649 with 10 homers and 26 RBI. It was the showdown baseball waited for.

This was when Maddon made one of his crazy moves.

He decided that since Harper was in the middle of another great season, the Cubs wouldn’t pitch to him. That’s right, the Cubs walked Harper at almost every chance they had. In the four-game series, he stepped to the plate 19 times. Of those plate appearances, the Cubs walked him record-breaking 13 times, and hit him one other time. He had a sacrifice fly.

Officially, Harper hit one-for-four during the weekend. In the process, you could see his frustration growing with each plate appearance. There was nothing he could do unless he wanted to swing at pitches a foot away from the strike zone.

The Cubs ended up sweeping the weekend series. In the last game on Mother’s Day, Javier Baez hit a home run in the 13th inning to secure the sweep. Another message sent by the Cubs.