View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



April 2017



Organizational Roundup – The Offense Has Arrived

Written by , Posted in General


Saturday’s 11-6 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park was kind of like a snapshot of the Cubs’ 3-2 record this season. It took a little while to get going. They looked pretty strong (but could look much better). And most importantly, they showed Cubs fans exactly why, if the offense is clicking, they are tough to beat.

The bats finally came around. (They probably should against journeyman Tommy Milone.) However, the biggest pull from this 17-hit, every-starter-recorded-at-least-one-hit effort was the play of Albert Almora.

Almora continues to show promise with his  all-around game. He went 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs out of the No. 9 spot in the lineup, but his glove added another highlight-reel grab to the young season as he saved a run in the fifth inning with a sliding grab on a shallow bloop, resulting in a fist pump from starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks.

Offense Goes Boom

For a Cubs offense that really has been boom or bust this season, Saturday’s output calmed some North Side anxiety, especially when it came to reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant, who went 3-for-6 with two doubles and three RBI.  Addison Russell had three hits and Willson Contreras continued his breakout campaign with two more RBI (he has five now on the season and is hitting .294).

The bats should receive a tougher test in righty Zach Davies today.

Bruised, Yep, But Back In There

Javy Baez was sporting a bruise around the eyelid on his left eye from a collision on Friday night with Jason Heyward, but he was back penciled in at second base Saturday and went 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs, relieving any concern that he was Schwarber 2.0.

It sounds as if Baez will rest today with Ben Zobrist moving to second, per Maddon’s pre-game comments on Saturday.

Pitching … Serviceable

Hendricks wasn’t his normal self, allowing a first-inning home run to Jonathan Villar and a game-tying two-run blast by Nick Franklin in the fourth. His stuff wasn’t sharp, but when you get 11 runs of support it doesn’t have to be. His strongest frame was his last, the sixth, when he had some pretty pitches for two Ks and a groundout.

Pedro Strop was on out of the pen Saturday, with three strikeouts (despite a walk and a wild pitch) … Justin Grimm struck out the side in the eighth but allowed a two-run shot to light-hitting Jett Bandy in the ninth.

On Deck

The rubber match between the Cubs and Brewers is today at 1:10 p.m. on WGN-TV and Radio 670 The Score and will feature the Cubs Jake Arrieta (1-0, 0.00 ERA) against the Brewers’ Davies (0-1, 12.46 ERA). The Cubs got to Davies pretty well in Spring Training back on March 14, scoring six runs on six hits and three walks in three innings.

AAA – Iowa Cubs 10, Oklahoma City Dodgers 9

SP – Aaron Brooks – W (1-0), 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 5 K)

1B – Jeimer Candelario – 2-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, 5 RBI

2B – Ian Happ – 1-4,  HR, 2 R, 2 RBI

CF – John Andreoli – 3-4, 3 R, 3B, RBI

Prospect Watch
Another Happ (No. 2 Prospect, Baseball America) power display with an opposite-field blast. At this point, after a strong spring, the guy is looking more and more polished (and major-league ready). With the play of Heyward and Almora, right now, there’s no place for him. Ditto for Candelario (No. 7 Prospect, Baseball America), though his ridiculous two-game, 2-HR, 10-RBI bender could be the springboard and bait for landing the Cubs some pitching at the trade deadline (or possibly before).

AA – Tennessee Smokies 9, Pensacola Blue Wahoos 2

SP – Trevor Clifton – W (1-0), 5 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K

1B – Yasiel Balaguert – 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI, 1 R

SS – Andrew Ely – 2-4, 3B, 2 RBI, 2 R

Prospect Watch
Clifton (No. 7 Prospect, Baseball America) pitched pretty well, allowing two runs in the opening frame before retiring 13 straight. He also had an RBI single in his first at-bat. Great start in AA for Clifton.

A-Adv – Lynchburg Hillcats 6, Myrtle Beach Pelicans 1

SP – Justin Steele – L (0-1), 4 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 1 K)

Prospect Watch
One night after Justin Hatch looked dominant, Steele struggled with his command, walking five. There are better days to come for Steele, who’s looking to break into the Cubs top 10 prospects with a strong season with the Pelicans.

A – West Michigan Whitecaps 2, South Bend Cubs 0

SP – Dylan Cease – L (0-1), 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K

CF – D.J. Wilson 1-3

Prospect Watch
All eyes were on Cease (No. 4 Prospect, Baseball America) in this one, and he didn’t disappoint with 8 Ks in only four innings pitched, while only receiving singles as support on offense. Despite the three free passes, he allowed only a solo home run to Cam Gibson in the third inning. Reports from the game had him reaching 99 on the gun and sitting at 95 with a buckling, 72-mph curveball. This outing should produce pure excitement for Cubs fans along with questions on just how quickly Cease advances through the system.

  • Sherm

    Enjoyed this game – although there is something odd about Miller Park on TV when the roof is closed…almost dreary. Games there, to me, have a strange “late season – doesn’t matter” feel for some reason.

    So – Craig Counsell and Kyle Hendricks. Separated at birth?

    They used the 4 finger walk on Javy Baez last night. Saved SO much time. The game ONLY took 3:28. Imagine if those pitches had been thrown. It would have taken what? 3:28:30? But it did give me another time saving idea. When Miggy Montzero bats, how about a 3 finger strikeout? He just walks to the plate and then turns about and drags the bat back to the dugout? Save us all a few seconds of agony.

    The Cubs three top hitters, at this point, by average, are Lackey, Hendricks and Arrieta. In that order.

    In the first inning, Rizzo took an inside pitch and turned on it. Yanked it into the stands over first base. JD said “I’ve never seen a ball pulled that far.” Obviously, he wasn’t around in the Felix Pie era.

    Kris Bryant will not bat .000 with no RBI’s. Whew. His defense has been stellar this year.

    Schwarber needs to relax.

    Almora is relaxed. And he’s really, really good. Defensively, he’s there. Offensively, he’ll get there. Nice, quiet, controlled approach at the plate. Big things to come.

    I love Zobrist’s hustle. Beat out a routine DP ball for an rbi…because he gets it. Every player on the team should work that hard.

    I don’t like Javy hitting in front of the pitcher – why put the guy with the worst plate discipline on the team in a “chase” position? If you MUST bat the pitcher 8th (of which I am NOT a fan) Javy should bat 9, if his ego will allow it. Almora, or Jay, would be better at accepting a pitch-around walk.

    I predict that Jake will dominate today – and homer. Heyward homers, too. Residents of hell check the weather report.

    • Joe Aiello

      I think we need to refer to the intention walk as giving them the fingers

      • Condiment fingers.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        But what do you do with the thumb?

      • yellow mustard

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        So it is a 4 finger walk topped with mustard.

    • Doc Raker

      That’s how the Houston Astrodome was to me, always dreary. Baseball is sunshine and green at it’s best.

  • Sherm

    Oh – heard a great line. Yadi Molina, when asked about the ball on his chest (can’t say THAT enough) “Stupid question. That’s my answer, and I’m sticking to it”

    • Doug S.

      Enjoyable to see the bats come alive last night. Caught the audio by the unremarkable Brewers announcers again while Len searched the Internet for songs with stick and stuck in the title for the next cardinals series.

      • Sherm

        Stuck on you, Stuck in the middle with you, Glucy on the baseball diamonds?

      • Doug S.

        Nice reach on the last one – love it.

      • Sherm
      • Doug S.

        Almost perfect. Can someone photoshop Yadi’s face in there?

      • Sherm

        It’s holding the glue sign

      • Doug S.

        Change that to Perfect.

      • Ben

        I dont think I couldve done a better photoshop than this sherm. Its a nice touch

      • Bryzzo1744

        That stuff is awesome! Incredibly strong. I had to get some last week for my landlord.

      • Kyle

        I used to live right around the corner from Gorilla Glue here in Cincinnati. I did see Molina coming out of there a few times oddly enough.

      • Ben

        I have to say at least len provides some color to the games unlike the espn announcers that make me just want to put the tv on mute

      • You see, there’s the problem. Two problems actually. 1. Len isn’t the color guy. He’s the play by play guy. 2. The color he provides relates to the music industry not the game of baseball.

      • Sherm

        3. Even then? The color is gray.

      • cap’n realist

        Unless he talks about the upcoming Bryan Adams show. Then it’s bright gold.

      • Heaven help us all if Bryan Adams ever books Wrigley.

      • Sherm

        Be the only time it would be easy to find a good seat

      • Sherm

        So I have to give SOME credit for this line. Len says that Almora took the Jr. off his uniform, because the extra letters made the shirt too big for him. JD says “What does Saltalamacchia wear? A 5X?”

      • Ben

        lol see len does provide some entertainment

      • cap’n realist

        Ed Ott wore a 5x in the 70’s for the Pirates. How big must’ve THOSE letters been?

    • Seymour Butts

      You can’t measure my disappointment on getting no props for using Lester Hayes name in the Ballgate controversy.

      • Sherm

        A) you should only measure things worth measuring. Disappointment isn’t one of them.

        B) you are I may be the only ones old enough to remember the Oakland Raiders back then…Fred Biletnikoff could climb walls like Spiderman with that stickum they used…

  • Bryzzo1744

    Caught part of the game on MLB Network and got Lame Len. Him and JD were talking about Broadway. Because Addison Russell wears #27 as a tribute to Eddie George (as do I on my car plates, for the n00bs, I am a huge Buckeye fan), JD goes Eddie George will be starring in the broadway musical Chicago. I didn’t catch any other stupid lines but I’m sure he said other stupid things

    • Guy Karafa

      He plays Billy Flynn.

    • Sherm

      I have no problem with that – he’s at least reporting something interesting. A) I didn’t know that’s why Russell chose that number and B) I didn’t know Eddie George was in a Broadway Musical. Minutiae perhaps, but decent trivia, and they didn’t dwell. Perhaps because Len doesn’t know many musicals or the songs from them.

      All I really want from a broadcast team? Pretty simple, and here’s an example:

      PBP Guy: “Would you run here?”
      Color Guy: “No, and here’s why…”

      • Bryzzo1744

        I wouldn’t have known either nuggets if I wasn’t a Buckeye fan. I read it on Russell’s wikipedia page when I couldn’t sleep one night, and Eddie wrote about his Broadway career on The Player’s Tribune.

  • Doug S.

    Helluva start to the game!!!!

    • Eddie Von White

      Yeah. J-Hey should have held up three fingers.

      • Doug S.

        Giving my AppleTV a break and have WGLen on.
        Sports bar soon for lunch where the volume will be on golf, hockey or soccer.

      • Eddie Von White

        It’s a W just the same.

  • Doc Raker

    81 jacks to go.

    Heyward is hitting the ball hard.

    4-2, could easily be 6-0, more fun to come.

    Watched the game on MLB.TV and put the audio on Brewers Radio for the Uke. The Uke is good, entertaining and does know the game.

    • Bryzzo1744

      Re Heyward: I just watched the highlights, he was robbed of a hit 3x. That’s a good sign.