The Cubs have beat the Mets.
All the insistence from the Cubs that this is "just another series" aside, they have to feel a sense of relief to finally enact one of their postgame parties after playing the Mets.
As just about every baseball fan in Chicago and New York knows, the Cubs beat the Mets in all seven regular-season matchups last year before losing eight straight (four in the National League Championship Series and then four in New York over the Fourth of July weekend).
The Cubs threw that narrative out the window Monday night at Wrigley Field, taking down the Mets 5-1 in front of 41,353 fans behind a dominant outing from Jon Lester.
Including the series in New York, the Cubs had lost 15 of 21 games prior to the All-Star Break but have now come out with three wins in the first four games after the Midsummer Classic.
They're feeling themselves again now, whether it's the Mets or some other team they're playing.
"I think it was just needed in general to get off to a good start here in the second half," Kris Bryant said. "I approach it as a nameless, faceless opponent. We don't care who we're playing. It's just another game of baseball.
"Today, I think, we really kind of went out there that way. We couldn't care less about what's happened [in] the past."
Anthony Rizzo delivered the big blow Monday night: A three-run shot to cap off a 10-pitch at-bat in the third inning.
"He's the anchor of the whole group," manager Joe Maddon said. "There's no question about it."
"This guy is doing MVP-caliber stuff on a daily basis for us," Cubs catcher David Ross said. "Even when he goes in the tank a little bit, it doesn't affect the game as much. He still has great at-bats, he takes his walks. He comes right back and two four-hit games and suddenly he's batting .300 again.
"He's our staple. KB is a stud, too, and there's a lot of these guys that are great, but for me, Rizz is the catalyst, the leader and the guy that is just as consistent as it gets."
Pitching against the Mets in New York three weeks ago, Lester had the shortest outing of his career, allowing eight runs while getting just four outs.
This time around, the Cubs veteran southpaw held the Mets lineup at bay, surrendering only one run on four hits and three walks in 7.2 innings.
What was the biggest difference between the two starts?
"I didn't give up any runs and got through the second," Lester joked.
After posting an 8.81 ERA in the 10 games prior to the All-Star Break, Cubs starters have immediately turned things around with a 1.95 ERA (5 ER in 27.2 IP) in the four games since.
"We didn't play very well in New York," Lester said. "That's the biggest thing: We came out tonight and played clean baseball. We had really good, quality at-bats.
"I think that's key for us is getting back to playing clean baseball with these guys. Obviously everybody that comes in here, anybody we play, we've got the target on our back. They want to beat us; they're gonna give us their best. We know that.
"We just gotta go out and make sure we don't beat ourselves. We had done that prior to the break and I feel like we've played really good baseball after the break. Hopefully we'll continue to do that and keep pitching and worry about the rest as we go."
Matt Szczur scored the Cubs' final two runs of the game to continue his torrid second half (5-for-9, 3 RBI). He doubled in the sixth and came around to score on Ross' sacrifice fly and then doubled in the eighth and scored on Albert Almora Jr.'s two-out single.
Ross echoed the prevailing thought amongst Cubs players that they walked off the field Monday night feeling good about playing clean baseball, not just beating the Mets.
"I mean, we wanna win 'em all, honestly," he said. "Yeah, they have had our number, but again, they caught us at a spot where we weren't playing our best baseball.
"Is it nice to come out and play good baseball against them? Yes, it sure is. And get a W.
"For me, there are no big games in July. The big games come in September and October. As boring as it sounds, you just try to come into work and do your job every day and try to win that day. I don't care who the win's against."