Three Strikes – It Happ-ened!
I took some time to sleep in Saturday, and woke up early afternoon thinking I had missed at least part of the game. Luckily for me, it was a 3pm start, so I didn’t miss a thing, except a little bit of news coming down the pipeline–that human dinger machine Ian Happ would be getting called up, and making his first start Saturday afternoon. It was the sort of thing that some had been speculating about happening since Spring Training, but the current number of banged-up Cubs made it somewhat necessary to do now. More on that later.
STRIKE ONE – Happ does Happ Things
So, how did Happ’s Major-league debut go? Not too bad, as it turned out. He struck out* his first time up, and worked a nice walk the next time around. He got on base for the first time in the 5th on a Matt Carpenter error, only to end up causing a double play on an Anthony Rizzo grounder, courtesy of the slide rule. And then in the 7th, everyone got what they were looking for, as Happ hit a 2-run shot for his first MLB hit, first MLB homer, and first MLB RBIs, and the Cubs’ last runs of the game. All told, not a bad debut for the kid, though at some point he’ll be heading back to Iowa. Maybe.
STRIKE TWO – State of the Roster
The fact that Happ came up today was more a matter of necessity than anything else; with Addison Russell nursing a sore shoulder that has kept him from the field, Ben Zobrist and Jon Jay nursing a sore back, and Kris Bryant having come down with a stomach ailment, the Cubs would have had a bench consisting of Addison Russell to maybe pinch hit (with Contreras in the outfield, and Montero catching), and who knows after that if Happ (or someone else) doesn’t come up. Sooner or later, if guys aren’t getting well enough to be out there, the front office is going to have to explore putting some folks on the DL; given that the DL is down to 10 days, and you can still put a guy on retroactively, this isn’t going to be a big deal.
STRIKE THREE – Lester Almost Goes Deep
Jon Lester, he who didn’t have a hit to his name until 2015, and who executed the famed 12th inning walk-off bunt in 2016, almost beat Happ to his first career regular season homer. Yes, he did hit one in Spring Training last year, but that doesn’t really count–but it does show that he CAN do it. And, if he’d gotten that one to really ANY other part of Busch stadium, it would have gone out. Instead, it bounced off the wall in front of Dexter Fowler for an RBI double that felt a little closer than it should have been on the throw. That run held up for all of an inning before the wheels fell off.
AAA: Iowa @ Salt Lake (L, 5-4)
Game in progress as of this writing, in the I-Cubs’ first game following Happ’s call to the big league club. Bear in mind, they’re also missing Jeimer Candelario at the moment as well. Iowa starter Seth Frankoff has given the I-Cubs 6 full innings, having given up 3 runs on 3 hits, with 2 walks and 6 Ks. Offensively, Chesny Young has a 2-hit game so far, but otherwise the bats are pretty well silent. 3 innings to go, though, so that could change.
AA: Tennessee v Montgomery (L, 3-1)
Jen-Ho Tseng turned in a pretty good start, taking a tough loss; he gave the Smokies 7 innings of 1-run ball, striking out 3 without a walk. The Smokies didn’t get on board until the 9th though, by which point the Biscuits had added on 2 runs to make it a 3-run game. The Smokies are still doing alright on the year, with a 22-14 record and lead their division at the moment.
A-Adv: Myrtle Beach v Lynchburg (PPD, weather)
Mother nature strikes again, postponing this one. There is still news for the Pelicans, though: Eloy Jimenez has been activated and will get his first game action of the year with the Cubs’ High-A squad…when the weather cooperates.
A: South Bend @ Peoria (W, 4-0)
The organization’s lone W of the day is brought to us by the South Bend Cubs by way of a shutout of the Cubs’ former A-ball affiliate in Peoria. Jose Paulino started for the Cubs, giving 6 shutout innings, scattering 6 hits and a walk along with 3 Ks. Wladimir Galindo drove in the only runs needed in the first, but struck out 3 times in the game; despite that, he’s still batting .321 on the year.