MILWAUKEE - The Cubs are finally coming home.
After the longest road trip to begin a season since 1899, the Cubs will get to sleep in their own beds this week. Beds they haven't been in since before they left for spring training in mid-February.
Think about that: This road trip was not only nine games long, but it spanned 11 days (plus an extra three days before the season began in Florida) and the Cubs haven't been home in two months. While it would've been awful to play in Chicago in sub-freezing temperatures over the past week, this is the longest road trip to start a season in 119 years.
They're also returning to Wrigley Field winners, boasting a 5-4 record.
For all the panic and comparisons to last season's slow start, the Cubs are sitting in a fantastic spot entering a long homestand.
They just won three of four from a very good Brewers squad, where they took advantage of all the Milwaukee mistakes, received quality starts in all three victories and saw their bullpen shut down an offense that very well may border on "elite," even without Christian Yelich.
The Cubs also did all this without Anthony Rizzo for the final three games of the series, as the All-Star first baseman is dealing with a back injury and may not be ready for Monday's opener at "The Friendly Confines" given the chilly forecast doesn't mesh well with a balky back.
"We just played quality baseball the last four games," Ben Zobrist said. "It's a good team, so good to get off to a good start against them this year and hopefully we can continue that this coming week."
Joe Maddon called it before the series started, giving his usual spiel about how he loves playing good teams, especially early on.
After going 2-3 against the Marlins and Reds - two teams expected to be competing for the No. 1 overall pick next summer - the Cubs came out and stomped their new division rivals, giving the fans who battled the "Wisconsin residents only" presale plenty to cheer about all weekend.
The Brewers scored just 7 runs in the four games, plating tallies in only four innings of the 36 played.
Milwaukee also made 7 errors in the series, allowing the Cubs to take advantage.
"We did," Maddon said. "We've been playing aggressively. We've been playing smart for the most part."
The Cubs still didn't look quite like themselves, struggling to play situational baseball from an offensive perspective (particularly with runners on third base and less than two outs).
But they also will take a series win against an up-and-coming divison rival who figures to be in playoff contention for the next several years.
"We know they're deep, they're a resilient bunch," Kyle Hendricks said. "What they did last year kinda brought them together. We have to be on it, game-in, game-out, regardless of who we lose or who they lose."
There's also a budding rivalry between the two teams in terms of off-field drama and wars of words. Take the Willson Contreras issue in the eighth inning Sunday.
Or the social media spat between the two teams over the last few months, culminating in an absolutely epic takedown by @Cubs Thursday:
🎶 Hey, Milwaukee, what do you say— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 6, 2018
How ‘bout one more L today 🎶 pic.twitter.com/DuMTbQqGXE
Either way, this was exactly what the Cubs needed to light a fire.
"Always going to be a tough battle," said Kris Bryant, who is off to a blistering start. "They seem like a fun group over there, having a lot of fun.
"Sure, it can get a little annoying, but we do the same thing. It's a nice little rivalry and they're gonna be a tough one this year."