CHICAGO — In order to put themselves in the thick of the race for a playoff spot in the fourth year of the David Ross era, the Chicago Cubs took a page from their previous regime.

How have they done so?

By having a strong month of August. And there was one big reason why they were able to pull it off.

Over the course of 27 games, the Cubs went 18-9, including a 3-2 win over the Brewers at Wrigley Field to take 2-of-3 from their division rivals. It has the club just three games behind Milwaukee for the top spot in the National League Central division and two games ahead of the Giants for the second NL Wild Card spot.

August was by far the Cubs’ best month of the 2023 season, with July being the previous best at 15-11. It’s their best August since their World Series championship campaign in 2016, when they went 22-6, and the 19 victories in a month are the most by the Cubs since May 2021.

One thing that helped the team perform well was their play in games which were decided by one run. They went 8-3 during the 27-game stretch, including two to take the series against the Brewers this week, and are now 17-6 in one-run games since May 29.

“What this team has done is find a way to win, for a while now, scratching and clawing, overcoming adversity,” said Ross of the club winning close games. “Good teams, bad teams, coming back late in games, tying things up, one swing of the bat moments.”

Such a stretch is a throwback to the Joe Maddon era of the club when they made the playoffs in four straight seasons. Here’s how those squads that made the postseason made the most of August those seasons.

  • 2015 — 19-9
  • 2016 — 22-6
  • 2017 — 17-12
  • 2018 — 18-10

It’s certainly a change in feeling for the Cubs from July 20, when they were six games under .500 after a loss to the Cardinals. Now the team has their sights set on their first playoff berth since the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

“I have said it way before, like two months ago, the chemistry that we have going on this team, and I mean pretty much everyone involved here, trainers, coaches, players, it’s a really good one,” said closer Adbert Alzolay of the team’s recent surge.

If they make the playoffs, the second-to-last month of the regular season could be a bit reason why.