Cubs manager Dale Sveum said there's always added adrenaline when facing the division leaders, especially this late in the season.
"At this time of year, when you're really not in the pennant race or not really looking forward to the postseason, when you do play the better teams, you do want to step it up," Sveum said. "You want to be spoilers, but at the same tone, you're just playing the game as hard as you possibly can. I'm just going by my nature, when I was out of the pennant races, these are the teams you really wanted to beat to help somebody out."
The Cubs are 3-6 against the Reds this season entering Friday's series opener, with a 1-1 record at Great American Ball Park, but Sveum naturally wants to even the count by series' end and make this a little more interesting in the National League Central.
Don't take it personally, Cincinnati.
"Not that you have anything against the Cincinnati Reds or whoever is in first place," Sveum said. "But that's one motivating factor is knocking people out the playoffs."