Cubs

Heads up: The Cubs are coming after the Cardinals

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Heads up: The Cubs are coming after the Cardinals

Starlin Castro's lean-back at home plate could go down as a defining image for this new Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.

These young Cubs are coming after the division and they are not going away anytime soon, just like Castro refused to go away after being benched and losing his post as the team's starting shortstop.

Castro had the game of his life Friday as the Cubs beat the Cardinals 8-3 in front of 40,846 fans at Wrigley Field.

The embattled infielder crushed two homers and drove in six runs as the Cubs moved within six games of the Cardinals in the National League Central.

[MORE: Redemption: Starlin Castro has the game of his life for Cubs]

With only a little over two weeks left in the season, can the Cubs really catch St. Louis?

"Anything's possible," Kris Bryant said. "We went on a run earlier in August and won a lot of games. We gotta control what we can control. That's how we play. We can't really control what they do.

"It sure would be nice to win the division."

Bryant said the Cubs' confidence is as high as it can be after taking three of four in Pittsburgh and now the series opener against the Cardinals.

The day after Chris Coghlan's slide made national news by taking Pirates rookie of the year shortstop Jung Ho Kang out of the pennant race, the Cubs again showed their edge when Anthony Rizzo started marching out toward the mound after being hit by a pitch for the second time on the afternoon.

After the game, Cubs manager Joe Maddon absolutely laid into the Cardinals and their way of "policing" things like hit-by-pitches.

"I just want them to know this: We're not going to take that. Very simple," Maddon said.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

The Cubs made a statement down in St. Louis last week by winning the first two games of the series before blowing a lead in the third game. 

Now, they're off to a good start with the Cardinals in town for the last showdown of the season between these two teams.

"We're trying to surpass them," Maddon said. "We gotta get Pittsburgh, then we go after [the Cardinals]. I don't want anybody thinking, 'Oh, let's just make the playoffs,' or 'Let's just be a wild card team.'

"I don't want that thought at all. That's the kind of thought that gets you in trouble. You just keep shooting for the top of the ladder. That's what I want our focus to be."

Reds pitcher Amir Garrett apparently held a grudge against Javy Baez for a year

Reds pitcher Amir Garrett apparently held a grudge against Javy Baez for a year

Baseball players don't forget grudges. Javy Baez and Reds pitcher Amir Garrett gave an example of that on Saturday.

Garrett struck out Baez in the seventh inning of the first game of the Cubs-Reds doubleheader. Garrett showed some excitement with the strikeout and then said something to Baez. They both started jawing at each other and suddenly the benches cleared.

At first glance, it looked like Garrett was a bit too excited to get a strikeout with no one on base. Turns out Baez had his own bit of swag for Garrett last year (Friday was the one-year anniversary) in the form of a grand slam at Wrigley Field.

This time Garrett got Baez and wanted to even things up a bit.

Things didn't get too feisty despite the benches clearing, but Anthony Rizzo did rush to Baez's side at some speed. This could be a matchup to keep an eye out for in the future.

Cubs Talk Podcast: The greatest Cubs moments at Great American Ballpark

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: The greatest Cubs moments at Great American Ballpark

Siera Santos, Kelly Crull, and David DeJesus go into the audio archives to break down the biggest games for the Cubs in Cincinnati.

David DeJesus gives us his top 3 ballgames with such gems as The Schwarber Game, The Kris Bryant Game, Starlin Castro’s debut, and Jake Arrieta’s second no hitter.

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here: