Mad Max Prevails
Underway from Washington D.C. I’m watching on the MLB Network so I get Bob Costas and John Smoltz, I can live with that.
The top of the first starts in a promising fashion as Anthony Rizzo gets plunked for the 13th time on the year. The lineup is stacked with lefties so batting second is Tommy La Stella. Instead of getting Rizzo to second, La Stella is called out on a questionable third strike. Third place hitter Ian Happ popped out weakly to center bringing up tonight’s cleanup hitter, Kris Bryant. After a weak swing on a slider, Nationals starter Max Scherzer tried to go back there and left it just over the plate and Bryant made him pay with a triple off the wall in right-center. Cubs take a 1-0 lead. If this was 2015, I’d be feeling pretty good.
The bottom of the first will of course lead to runs for the opponents, this is the Cub’s staff. Lead-off man Trea Turner hit a grounder to second that LaStella didn’t play aggressively and Turner beat the play to first. With Jake Arrieta and Miguel Montero as the battery, you know that Turner won’t be at first for long. He is not. After a big jump, Turner steals second and Costas says that the throw wasn’t even close (and then added that it was a weak throw). He’s wrong as the throw was way closer than it should have been. I now don’t like Costas, no matter if some of the things he says are accurate.
Turner steals third and then scores on a ground ball from Brian Goodwin to Rizzo in which Arrieta was late covering first. 1-1, runner on first with nobody out. The only question is how many runs will be scored this inning. Goodwin doesn’t run while Bryce Harper is batting and luckily, Harper flies out to RF. Arrieta then strikes out Ryan Zimmerman and there is now hope of surviving the inning. Goodwin still doesn’t run, but Arrieta walks Daniel Murphy on four pitches. Anthony Rendon stands between triumph or tragedy. On a 2-2 count, Rendon rips a ball to third. Luckily Jeimer Candelario makes a nice play and beats Goodwin to third for the force out and ends the inning with the game tied 1-1.
Since I don’t want to make this a 2,500 word post, the remaining highlights will be done bullet point style.
- La Stella costs the Cubs a run with a throwing error that “pulled” Rizzo off the bag in what would have been the third out. The Cubs challenged the play and I thought that Rizzo stayed on the bag but the call was not overturned. I stayed out of the discussion on La Stella during last year’s “if I can’t play I’ll take my ball and go home” spat. However, I don’t want to see him in any role for the Cubs besides as a pinch hitter.
- Costas and Len would be wonderfully horrible together. Costas spent lots of time discussing the large President’s head race in the fourth inning. More Smoltz please.
- I get that the Cubs want lefties in the lineup, but Montero can’t be Arrieta’s catcher. They have no chance of throwing out a baserunner between Arrieta’s slow delivery and Montero’s below average arm.
- Arrieta and Montero implode in the fourth between more poor pitching and poor catching. The low point of the inning, Arrieta walks second place hitter Goodwin on four pitches to bring up Harper. After four innings it’s 4-1 Nationals and that seems like a win. Arrieta has five walks, 91 pitches, and given up seven steals through four innings.
- Any chance to get back into the game is going to require getting into Washington’s bullpen. Scherzer has thrown 70 pitches as the fifth inning starts. A 25+ pitch inning would be beneficial. Nope, less than 15.
- The Nationals lead off the fifth inning with another hit. Smoltz mentioned that the lead-off average against Jake is over .300, that is god awful. There was also lots of talk on how Jake is costing himself big $$ by showing that he’s an average pitcher now. Arrieta finishes with 4+ innings and 98 pitches (which includes six walks).
- Felix Pena comes on with two on and nobody out. After getting the first man to popup, Pena shows he might just be a AAAA pitcher. Pena also walked Goodwin on four straight pitches to get to Harper. “It’s a bold strategy Cotton, let’s see if it pays off for them.”
- The sixth inning starts as the Cubs trail 6-1. Will they rollover and die or show some fight? If that inning was an indication, rollover it is.
- Pena throws a scoreless 6th and 7th, maybe he is AAAA+. I’d trust him over Hector Rondon right now even though Rondon threw a scoreless 8th inning.
- Into the National bullpen! Oh, it’s the 8th inning, probably too late. Javier Baez shows he still can’t come close to hitting or laying off bad sliders. But man that defense.
- Addison Russell once again throws a bat farther than he can hit the ball. I’m souring on Russell more and more every day. You could easily convince me to make him the headliner of a trade and I wouldn’t feel bad at all.
- That’s all folks. Cubs lose 6-1.
My last post had 48 comments, my new goal is 50, so here are some topics that might start some conversation.
- Len Kasper is a bit underrated as a quality announcer.
- The Red Sox-Yankees are the best rivalry in baseball.
- Jessica Mendoza is an asset for ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.
- Some team will be crazy enough to give Arrieta 6 yrs @ $25M per this off-season.
- Kris Bryant, Ian Happ, Javier Baez, and Eloy Jiminez are the only guys on my “no-trade list”. Subject to the usual caveat that a stupid offer for any of those players would be accepted, ie. Mike Trout for Ian Happ.
Let’s get those comments going!!
Around the League
- Rays starter Alex Cobb had a no-hitter through six innings. His price in a potential trade just went up. Cobb went eight scoreless innings but lost the “W” as closer Alex Colome gives up two runs and then bogarts the win as the Rays win in 10. Another example of why the win is a meaningless stat for pitchers.
- The Brewers lose again making the Cubs loss moot.
- The Rangers Adrian Beltre hit his 450th career homer in the ninth inning off Indians closer Cody Allen to give the Rangers a 2-1 victory.
AAA: Iowa (34-43) – Iowa defeated New Orleans 7-6. To answer the question on everyone’s mind, no, Kyle Schwarber did not hit a homer. He did go 2-4 with a couple of singles though. Catcher Victor Caratini was 3-4 with a pair of doubles to raise his average to .343. I don’t know how strong he is defensively, but that is some great offense from the catching position.
AA: Tennessee (38-36) – No game on Tuesday. The Smokies host Jackson on Wednesday in the first game of a six game series.
H-A: Myrtle Beach (45-30) – The Pelicans defeated Potomac 4-2 on Tuesday evening. Starter Adbert Alzolay ran his record to 7-1 as he pitched 5 2/3 innings giving up just two runs while striking out seven. The recently promoted Zack Short led the offense as he went 3-3.
L-A: South Bend (40-35) – The Cubs dropped an exciting one, falling 11-10 to Fort Wayne. The Cubs scored twice in the ninth to take the lead but then surrendered two to get the loss. Obviously there were no pitching highlights on either side and the Cubs offense was pretty spread out with no significant performers. Kevonte Mitchell did hit his 8th homer on the season.
R: Eugene (7-5) – This game is on the west coast, I get tired. At bedtime, Eugene was defeating Hillsboro 4-1. Shortstop Aramis Ademan hit his second homer on the young season.