"There's still a lot of baseball left."
That's the standard line from Major League Baseball managers and players whenever media members get a little too caught up in the ups and downs of a 162-game season.
The Cubs woke up Monday — in advance of a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals — 12.5 games up in the NL Central, the largest division lead in franchise history.
The Cubs (47-23) will go to sleep Wednesday night with only a 9.5 game lead in the NL Central after being swept out of Wrigley by those same Cardinals (38-33).
It was a simple reminder that this Cardinals team won 100 games last year and has been a perennial World Series contender over the last decade-plus.
It was also a reminder that more than half the season remains and a large lead can evaporate in a hurry.
Yet the Cubs (47-23) won't hit the panic button. They've known all along they can't take their hot start for granted.
"Honestly, man, I'm fine," Joe Maddon said after the Cubs' 7-2 loss Wednesday. "The first two games, we played really well and lost. Those are actually tougher to deal with. Today's game was just, they just clubbed us. Give them credit.
"...They played well and they beat us. That's it. That's all I got. You're gonna lose some games."
Jake Arrieta got the call to start Wednesday's game, but the reigning NL Cy Young winner couldn't put a stop to his team's mini losing streak.
However, he insists the mood in the clubhouse hasn't changed after the Cubs were swept for the first time in almost a year.
"Not really," Arrieta said. "We're in a good spot. We're gonna take our lumps. In May, I think, we lost several in a row. The mindset stayed the same. I don't see this being any different.
"We'll adjust. We had to deal with some adversity. Some guys going down. But it's about how we pick each other up and bridge the gap until those guys get healthy and until we're at full strength."
The Cubs wound up 3-3 on the short homestand thanks to a sweep of the spiraling Pirates over the weekend.
But they experienced firsthand how the game of baseball giveth and taketh away.
"It's always wonderful if you're going to somebody else's ballpark and win like that. No doubt," Maddon said. "But there's a long time left. We're not taking anything for granted on our side, either. We gotta play.
"It ended up being a .500 homestand. Our sights are set higher than that. But you can't be upst with that, either. The Pirates left feeling the same way that we feel right now. It's just how this thing rolls back and forth.
"We gotta move on and we have a long road trip. We'll be ready to play. We got Jonny [Lester] tomorrow. Happy about that. I don't get too involved or emotionally upset about these kinds of moments. It's gonna happen. It happened. Move on."
Still, the Cubs are sitting at 9.5 games up in the division before July 4 has even come along, tied for the largest division lead in the league.
"When you're 10 games ahead, you look at it that way," Miguel Montero said. "Nothing you can do about it. It's over. You just gotta move on. Good thing we have a pretty good lead. We just can't take it for granted.
"We just want to keep it there. Obviously they came here, they played us pretty good, so other than that, you can't live with the past. You gotta move on. We already lost. Nothing we can do about it. We just gotta go to Miami and play better."