Maddon thrilled with possibility of 100-win season

Strop returns to bullpen; Cubs set rotation to begin seven-game road trip

Maddon thrilled with possibility of 100-win season

CHICAGO -- The Cubs secured home-field advantage through the National League Championship Series after the Pirates' walk-off win over the Nationals on Friday night. Manager Joe Maddon watched the end of that game.

"It's one of our goals," Maddon said Saturday. "The other one is to get 100 wins."

The Cubs do boast a 56-23 record at Wrigley Field, the best home mark in the Major Leagues. Maddon hopes they can capitalize on it.

"We play so well in this ballpark, you can't deny that," Maddon said. "Moving down the road, to be able to take advantage of it, we have to play our game. It's nice to hit another check mark in the box there."

Chicago began play on Saturday against St. Louis with 98 wins.

"Ninety is special," Maddon said. "When you think 90 wins, that should get you to the dance. When you get a chance to do 100, that is really special. I don't know how many times it's happened here. It indicates your tenacity per day to do something like that.

Five Cubs teams have won 100-plus games. The last team to win 100 games was the 1935 squad, which went 100-54. The most wins in Cubs history is the 1906 club, which went 116-36.

"First, you have to be good, and second of all, you have to approach the day properly. We've been fortunate with our starting pitching that they've gotten their normal turn."

The Cubs won 97 games last season in Maddon's first year in Chicago. His goal each year is to see 90-plus.

"I've been on the bad side of [100 losses], and it's an awful winter," Maddon said. "If a group of guys [wins 100] now, going into next season they know what it feels like and what it takes to do it. It's special."

The Cubs will open the NL Division Series on Oct. 7 at Wrigley Field against the winner of the NL Wild Card Game.

Pedro Strop said everything felt normal on Friday, which was his first outing since Aug. 10. Strop had been sidelined with a torn meniscus in his left knee. He threw 13 pitches against the Cardinals in one scoreless inning.

"I felt really good being back in a real game," Strop said.

Maddon thought the right-hander might have been a little nervous because he walked the first batter he faced, but Strop said that wasn't the case.

"I was trying to figure out my tempo and my release point," Strop said. "I wasn't nervous at all. It was the normal excitement you get when you pitch in a real game. It was a really good adjustment for me and good work."

Strop is expected to appear in four more games in the final week of regular-season play, and to pitch in consecutive games as well.

• After the Cubs wrap up their home regular-season schedule on Sunday, they begin a seven-game road trip, including four games in Pittsburgh and three in Cincinnati. Kyle Hendricks, who leads the Majors in ERA, will open the series against the Pirates on Monday. He will be followed by John Lackey on Tuesday, Jake Arrieta on Wednesday and a bullpen day Thursday.

Best Pitcher: Hendricks

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.