Yo-Yo Status: Down
A yo-yo. That seems to be the best visual for this Cubs season. Every time the yo-yo comes up the string, it goes down. The natural end result, though, is that eventually it comes to a stop–and for most of us who aren’t professionals with yo-yos, that usually comes when it hits the bottom. I really hope that isn’t where we’re headed, but…it’s no longer early. The halfway point of the season, games-wise, is nigh.
At first, this one had the makings of a pretty good pitcher’s duel…which is not what you expect when the starters are Mike Montgomery and (former Cub) Scott Feldman. But, through three innings, Feldman had yet to give up a hit, though he had walked a couple; Montgomery was nearly his match, giving up only a hit while striking out 5. The 4th inning looked like it would be more of the same, with the Cubs going down quietly, bringing Montgomery back to the mound, whereupon Billy Hamilton doubled on a ball that Albert Almora just wasn’t able to get to. But, a slowdown by Hamilton, a deke by Almora followed by a good throw to Javy Baez at third erased Hamilton trying to go a little bit further–the type of play that gives you the feeling that, hey, maybe things are going to go our way.
Three batters later, an Adam Duvall bomb gave the Reds a 3-run lead, and that was pretty much all she wrote; the Cubs wouldn’t get a hit until the 6th, and never really mounted a credible scoring threat, letting Feldman get through 7, and their bullpen took it the rest of the way.
Walking Wounded, Part Deux
Kris Bryant is still day to day with an ankle injury inflicted by 3rd base, Jeimer Candelario took an HBP off the knee Thursday in Washington, and neither got into the game today. To look at the lineup just makes you wonder, why are they choosing to play with guys on the active roster that they’re not going to use (with a short bench, no less). Replacing Almora with Tommy La Stella in the 8th led to three other changes in the defense, and both active catchers on the roster (Victor Caratini and Willson Contreras) stayed in the field the whole game. I get that the options remaining down in Iowa are less appealing/more difficult to move around, but taking the field 23 on 25 isn’t going to work any better. Just use the shortened DL, already.
Montgomery, Staff Ace?
It’s hard to say it, but the more we see him, it seems like Mike Montgomery is about the best starting pitcher the Cubs have right now. Despite giving up 4 runs, Joe Maddon kept him in the game for 6.2 innings, throwing 102 pitches–contrast to Thursday, when Jon Lester was pulled after 90 pitches and 6 innings. The difference is, even when he gives up runs–which, judging by his ERA, isn’t as often as the rest of the rotation–he doesn’t completely lose himself like seems to be happening with the stalwarts in the rotation (see Jake Arrieta‘s meltdown the other day, or a lot of starts, where things start going bad, and ONLY get worse). Is he going to be their best guy long term? I think we’re in trouble if that’s the case, but now that he is stretched out enough to get deep into a game, seems best to keep him there for now, and longer if they can keep him. It’s not like there isn’t a need for starting pitching next year and beyond.
Triple-A: Iowa v Round Rock (Delay, Iowa leads 7-3, Bot 8)
Maybe the rain is coming at a great time for Iowa tonight; the I-Cubs had notched 5 runs to take the lead over Round Rock in the 8th, before the delay started. Kyle Schwarber is the DH tonight for Iowa, and is 2-for-4 tonight, with both hits being home runs (both solo shots). Since going down, Schwarber is now hitting .368, and a multi-homer game is definitely a good sign. Some doubles, or even some line-drive singles, would probably be a bit better sign, though. Seth Frankoff started this one for Iowa, going 5 innings, giving up all of Round Rock’s 3 runs.
Double-A: Tennessee v Jackson (W, 5-2)
A for-sure W for the organization down in Tennessee, where Ben Zobrist is working on rehabbing. Zobrist went 1-3 with a walk tonight, and is hitting .500 on the nose while playing both right and left field tonight (why he and Charcer Burks switched places mid-game, I’m not sure). Brett Anderson started for Tennessee and didn’t factor in the decision, lasting only 4 innings while giving up both Jackson runs. He’s sporting a 3+ ERA down in Double-A–a guy who started the season as the Cubs’ fifth starter. Maybe he should stay down there rehabbing a while longer.
A-Adv: Myrtle Beach @ Down East (L, 10-2)
This one looks like it was painful. Down east scored in the 3rd through 5th innings (6 of their 10), all charged to starter Michael Rucker. David Berg came on in relief and gave up the other 4. They didn’t wind up mustering much offensively either, with the 2 runs on 8 relatively scattered hits.
A: South Bend v Lansing (L, 6-4)
Dylan Cease was in line for a win after 5 scoreless innings, but his relief in Tyler Peyton quickly let a 2-run South Bend advantage turn into a 1-run deficit in the 6th. He finished the game, giving up 3 more runs in the 8th, and somehow got stuck with a blown save and a loss. Needless to say, I don’t quite understand that one, but…I’m not an official scorer of any sort.
SS-A: Eugene @ Vancouver (W, 2-1)
Last affiliate, and last W, of the night (pending the outcome of Iowa’s game). Enrique De Los Rios started, and gave up one run over 5 innings, and would have been in line for a loss if not for a 2-run 8th by Eugene, scoring runs on an error and a Joe Martarono sac fly.