It's been a struggle for the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds in 2022. However, each team has something positive to build on at the moment.
Both coming off impressive series victories, the Cubs host the Reds in Tuesday night's opener of a three-game set.
Sitting 17 games under .500, Chicago went 3-4 on a trip through Pittsburgh and St. Louis, but concluded the trek by taking two of three from the Cardinals. The Cubs trailed 5-0 after three innings but scored five times in the fourth, and won 6-5 in 10 innings on Sunday.
Chicago has won two of its past three series.
The Cubs, who last won back-to-back games June 17-18 at home versus Atlanta, continue to be paced by Willson Contreras. The star catcher delivered the game-winning hit Sunday and is batting .377 with five home runs and 11 RBIs over his past 16 contests at home -- where he's hit safely in nine straight.
"Willson's been in a really good place," Cubs manager David Ross said. "He's been the same guy every single day. I almost think he's probably even more relaxed this year than I've seen him."
Meanwhile, scheduled Chicago starter Keegan Thompson (7-2, 3.10 ERA) has allowed one run on six hits and struck out 16 over 12 innings while going 1-0 in his past two starts -- versus Atlanta and Pittsburgh. Thompson gave up five runs -- three earned -- on three hits and three walks in just two-thirds of an inning in his start prior to those two against the New York Yankees.
This will be the right-hander's first start versus Cincinnati. He did pitch three scoreless innings over four appearances against the Reds last season.
Last in the National League Central, Cincinnati was mired in a seven-game losing streak before taking two of three at San Francisco during the weekend. The Reds used a seven-run third inning to eventually win 10-3 over the Giants on Sunday.
Cincinnati last won consecutive contests during a three-game road run from June 12-14.
"We knew we had to come (into San Francisco) and play clean baseball," the Reds' Nick Senzel told The Cincinnati Enquirer. "If we did that, we believe we can beat anyone."
Senzel had three hits in that series finale at San Francisco, and is 8-for-13 with four RBIs in his past four contests. He matched a career high with four hits during Cincinnati's 20-5 home rout of the Cubs on May 26, to split a four-game set.
Scheduled Reds starter Luis Castillo (2-4, 3.71 ERA) allowed two runs in five innings of a 4-3 win over Chicago on May 25. Last time out, the right-hander gave up a season-high four earned runs, five hits and three walks while fanning six in the Reds' 8-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.
Contreras is 7-for-15 with three doubles and a home run versus Castillo. Meanwhile, teammate Ian Happ, batting .330 with three homers and 10 RBIs in 24 games this month, is 8-for-22 with a home run against Castillo.
Cincinnati's Kyle Farmer is batting .439 with three homers in 10 RBIs over his past 10 games versus Chicago.
--Field Level Media