Cubs Faced With Golden Opportunity To Stretch NL Lead

Paul Augustin, Jr.Senior Analyst IJuly 7, 2008

Take a look at the schedule, Cubs fans.

Fresh off a 10-game road trip, the Chicago Cubs return to the (very) friendly confines of Wrigley Field on Tuesday. 

The last six games before the All-Star break present a golden opportunity for the Cubs to stretch out their division leads.  The Cubs face Cincinnati and San Francisco, who are both under .500. 

All-Stars Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano are scheduled to start four of those six games, while nine-game winner Ted Lilly and Sean Marshall, who looked strong in his start at St. Louis, are scheduled to start the other two games. 

In opposition, Chicago is scheduled to face only one pitcher, Tim Lincecum, with a winning record. Also among opposing starters are double-digit losers Aaron Harang and, the punchline of every overpaid pitcher joke, Barry Zito. 

With the remaining first half scheduled teed up for a 6-0 or 5-1 finish, the Cubs better take advantage. The second half starts off rudely with 10 of the first 14 games on the road, including a critical four-game set against Milwaukee.

The Cubs have a golden opportunity to add a game or two to their lead in the division. In a race that promises to be close and exciting the rest of the way, let's hope they don't blow this chance.