As the Chicago Cubs move closer to securing their first postseason berth since 2008, they continue to enjoy everything about the experience.
They'll look to keep the good times coming by completing a series sweep with their 10th straight victory over the visiting Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night.
Hours after manager Joe Maddon set up a small petting zoo in the Wrigley Field outfield for his players and their families to enjoy, Jake Arrieta struck out 11 while tossing a three-hitter to become the majors' first 20-game winner in Tuesday's 4-0 victory.
Winners in seven of the last eight, the Cubs (89-62) trimmed their magic number to clinch a playoff spot to three. While it seems likely Chicago will open the postseason with a one-game wild-card contest, it's poised to build more momentum, enjoy itself and see what happens.
"I think it's just preparing us for the postseason," said Arrieta, the first Cub to win 20 since 2001. "It's getting better as the season goes on. ... It's been a lot of fun. We need to keep moving forward."
Kris Bryant set a Cubs rookie record with his 26th home run and raised his RBI total to 98 with three more. He's batting .481 in the last seven games, and .391 in the last six against Milwaukee (63-88).
"He's going to hit a lot of home runs," said Hall of Famer Billy Williams, who previously held that club record since 1961. "He's got a home run swing that's perfect for Wrigley Field."
While Arrieta is likely to start that expected wild-card game, and Jon Lester would then take the ball should the Cubs advance, the rest of a potential division series rotation gets a bit murky with Jason Hammel, Dan Haren and Kyle Hendricks (7-6, 4.22 ERA) all struggling of late.
Hendricks will have at least two more chances to prove his worth for any playoff role after going 3-2 with a 5.29 ERA in 12 second-half starts. He gave up four runs on three homers in a season-low three innings of Thursday's 9-6 win at Pittsburgh.
The right-hander's best outing since the All-Star break came Aug. 1 when he allowed his only run in two starts this season against the Brewers, lasting seven innings of a 4-2 victory.
Khris Davis is 4 for 9 against Hendricks and batting .355 in the last nine games. Teammate Ryan Braun took batting practice Tuesday but could miss a fifth straight game with a back problem.
Losers in 12 of the last 14, Milwaukee has totaled 20 runs, hit .195 and struck out 87 times during its nine-game skid to the Cubs, who get their first look at Zach Davies (1-2, 6.00).
The right-hander didn't walk a batter while lasting seven innings to earn his first win in his second career start at Miami on Sept. 7. Since, he's walked nine while giving up nine runs and 11 hits in 9 2-3 innings to lose two in a row.
"Just losing a bit of the command," Davies said after allowing four of those walks in six innings of Friday's 5-3 loss to Cincinnati.