(AP) — There won’t be any playoffs for the Chicago Cubs, but they are showing signs of improvement under interim manager Mike Quade.
Quade and the Cubs begin the final month of the season trying to continue their momentum Friday afternoon against the visiting New York Mets.
Quade, the third base coach before manager Lou Piniella stepped down Aug. 22, is 6-3 since taking over Chicago (57-77), winning two of three series.
“Everything’s been pretty good so far,” Quade told the Cubs’ official website after their 5-3 win over Pittsburgh on Wednesday. “I’m making adjustments and learning on the fly, too. We’ll give it some time and see how things shake out.”
Starlin Castro has also contributed to the Cubs’ recent success. The rookie shortstop has four consecutive multihit games and is batting .365 since the All-Star break, which ranks third in the NL in that stretch.
Randy Wells (6-12, 4.50 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Cubs, and he’s hoping to build on his first win since July 23. The right-hander pitched six innings in a 3-2 win over first-place Cincinnati on Saturday.
Overall, Wells has been disappointed with his season after going 12-10 with a 3.05 ERA as a rookie last year.
“Look at my numbers,” Wells said. “It makes me want to throw up every time I look at them.”
He will try to post consecutive quality starts for the first time since July 17 and 23 against Philadelphia and St. Louis. Both of Wells’ previous outings against the Mets were quality starts, but he’s 0-1 despite a 1.50 ERA.
The Mets (66-68) will counter with R.A. Dickey, who continues to be one of the few bright spots on the fourth-place team.
Dickey (9-5, 2.57) has a chance to reach double-digit wins for the first time in his career. The knuckleballer, who also won nine games with Texas in 2003, beat Houston on Sunday, allowing one run in seven innings while improving to 3-1 with a 2.32 ERA in his last eight starts.
“Incredible. He’s going to go out and give you a quality start every time and that’s what he’s done,” Mets catcher Josh Thole said. “Unbelievable.”
Dickey has never faced the Cubs, but is 3-0 versus NL Central opponents and 3-1 with a 2.13 ERA in day games. New York hopes he can pitch deep into the game after ace Johan Santana left Thursday night’s 4-2 win at Atlanta with a strained pectoral muscle.
Two injured starters may be on track to return for the Mets this weekend. Jose Reyes has missed the last seven games with an oblique injury, and Angel Pagan has been out of the starting lineup for three straight games due to right wrist tendinitis.
New York has struggled at Wrigley Field of late, losing 14 of 20 since the beginning of 2003. But one player who has enjoyed Chicago is Carlos Beltran, who is batting .391 with nine home runs and 22 RBIs in 21 career games at Wrigley.
Updated September 3, 2010
45 © 2010 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.