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What a difference a week makes.

As the Cubs were preparing for a series in Detroit on their off-day last Monday, they were in the midst of arguably their worst offensive rut of the season, managing only a solo homer a night.

This Monday, they were coming off a five-game winning streak and gearing up to face Noah Syndergaard. They responded by battering Thor to the tune of 9 hits, 3 walks and 4 runs in 6 innings, capped by a two-out, two-run single by Jon Lester in a 7-4 victory.

"Loved the approach," Joe Maddon said. "We hit some balls hard that were caught, too. I loved it. I thought we looked really good at the plate. We weren't trying to do too much in general. We moved the ball when we needed to.

"Those are the kinds of things we need to do from now until the end of the year into the playoffs. We need to move the ball when it needs to be moved. I've said that for a long time. ... We looked like that a while ago, got away from it and now it's starting to show up again."

It was inevitable the Cubs offense would bounce back and they couldn't have picked a better time to rebound.

Beginning with Syndergaard Monday, the Cubs are up against some really good pitching the new few weeks.

The Mets are throwing out Jacob deGrom Tuesday, then the Cubs have to face the Braves ace Mike Foltynewicz Thursday in the makeup game before moving on to face the Phillies. At the moment, luck looks to be on the Cubs' side as they're slated to miss both Jake Arrieta and Aaron Nola in Philadelphia, but the Phillies are still a playoff team that boasts a solid bullpen and a trio of capable starters behind their studs.

 

From there, it's three games in Milwaukee, four games in Washington (and likely another run-in with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg) and then another three with the Brewers at Wrigley before the Cubs finally receive an off-day Sept. 13.

The schedule gets better from there thanks to one more series each with the Reds and White Sox in mid-September, but there are no days off — figuratively or literally — for this Cubs offense for the next two-plus weeks.

This is going to be a huge benchmark for a franchise that has been preparing its offense for October since the minute they were knocked out of the playoffs last fall.

"Well this is what you see in the postseason, guys like this," Maddon said Monday. 

All the emphasis from Maddon and hitting coaches Chili Davis and Andy Haines on the Cubs' young hitters to use the opposite field, make more contact and try to manufacture runs will be put to the test.

"I think guys are maturing, yes, and I think that our offense is so contagious in both ways," Anthony Rizzo said. "When guys have good at-bats, I really feel like it feeds off one another and the next guy has a good at-bat and the next guy has a good at-bat and that's when we're at our best."

The good news is, there are a lot of positives to point to in this lineup.

Daniel Murphy doubled and scored in the first inning off Syndergaard Monday night and has given this Cubs lineup a completely different look, hitting safely and scoring in all six games now atop the order.

Kris Bryant began a rehab stint in the minor leagues Monday night and looks to be only a matter of days away from rejoining the Cubs lineup for the first time in over a month.

Rizzo just won NL Player of the Week and collected three extra-base hits Monday, including a monster home run into the right-center bleachers.

Javy Baez is approaching 100 RBI and firmly out of his brief slump. 

Home runs are coming in bunches for Kyle Schwarber right now. 

David Bote has adjusted back to the league and loves hitting at Wrigley Field (1.044 OPS), though the Cubs are about to embark on their longest road trip of the season.

Jason Heyward had to miss two games over the weekend for an ankle injury but came back with a four-hit game Sunday and drew a key walk off Syndergaard and singled in another at-bat Monday.

Ben Zobrist is as steady as ever, including the game-winning hit Monday night — a double off the wall in left-center to plate Rizzo in the seventh inning.

 

Willson Contreras notched his first extra-base hit in weeks Saturday and has made a mechanical adjustment at the plate to improve his timing.

"We're seeing nothing but good pitching for the next couple weeks," Maddon said. "On the good side of that, I think our offense is trending properly. Daniel at the top makes a difference with the group. I think the confidence he distributes among the rest of the group is felt.

"KB getting well again is gonna make the lineup even longer than that. ... But more than anything, I think it's a contagious, confident thing. And we have to keep working those good at-bats, piling them up and maintaining that little bit of offensive swagger that we got goin' on right now."

Of course, all of those good vibes can evaporate in a hurry, especially going up against some of the league's best pitchers.

Like we said, what a difference a week makes and let's see what the next week brings and if the Cubs offense truly is October ready or not.