View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003

Thursday

6

July 2017

51

COMMENTS

Getting Over the Hump (Day)?

Written by , Posted in General

The Cubs won on Wednesday.  What’s more they looked pretty good in doing it.  Sure there were bat at bats here and there, and a certain non-right fielder was in right field doing what he does.  But hey, they won—this is supposed to be a happy occasion.  Let’s not bicker and argue over who killed who.

At first it looked like the same old 2017 Cubs when John Lackey gave three hits in the top of the first, prompting Len Kasper to remark, “another first inning run allowed by the Cubs.”  But Lackey battled and escaped the frame with no further damage.

Before the bottom of the first Len tried to invoke the spirit of Harry Caray by commenting that Rays pitcher Blake Snell’s name spelled backward is Llens.  “With two Ls, like Willson,” added J.D.  And groans could be heard emanating from throughout the Chicagoland area.

Joe Maddon continued in his wacky ways with yet another imaginative lineup featuring catcher Willson Contreras leading off, Ian Happ in left field and Ben Zobrist in right.  First time through it looked like this lineup stood a chance to be described as inspired rather than crazy as Contreras got a hit, and reached second after tagging up, a la Albert Almora, Jr., on Kris Bryant’s fly ball to center.  But then after Anthony Rizzo worked a walk, Zobrist struck out on four pitches, then Happ popped up on a 3-0 pitch to end the inning.

Despite that poor outcome, with the exception of Zobrist’s at bat, the Cubs’ hitters looked a lot like the 2016 versions, working at bats and running up Snell’s pitch count.  They continued to work Snell and while they never did break through against him, they made him throw almost 100 pitches in five innings and come the sixth inning he was done.

Lackey threw a 1-2-3 second inning and continued to grind, giving the Cubs the kind of start they came to expect from him last year.  The Rays got a run in the third and, after 1-2-3- fourth and fifth innings from Lackey, another in the sixth.  At this point it looked like John might be in for a no support, hard luck loss but, as I said before, come the bottom of the sixth Snell was done and against the Rays’ bullpen the Cubs fortunes were about to change.

Happ reached on an infield single, and Javier Baez followed with one of his own.   Then with two outs Jon Jay, pinch hitting for Lackey, deposited an Erasmo Ramirez pitch into the left field bleachers to tie the game.

Pedro Strop threw a 1-2-3 top of the seventh, and in the bottom of the frame the Cubs broke out some honest to God, old-fashioned fundamental baseball.  Bryant walked, Rizzo slapped a single through the vacated SS position, and Zobrist sacrifice bunted them over to second and third, respectively.  Then with the infield in, Happ hit a ground ball single through the middle to plate both Bryant and Rizzo.  I heard that a tear was brought to Sherm’s eye at this point, but I can’t confirm this.

In the top of the 8th Mallex Smith hit a lazy pop into right field giving Zobrist the opportunity to do an uncanny impression of Jorge Soler and allow the ball to drop in front of him for a hit.  But then Koji Uehara struck out Evan Longoria to end the threat.

In the bottom of the 8th the Cubs put together their second homerless rally of the day when Tommy LaStella, pinch hitting for Uehara, was hit by a pitch, Bryant walked and Rizzo doubled off the centerfield wall to bring them both home.

Wade Davis pitched a relatively uneventful ninth to put a bow on win number 42.

They may prove me wrong today, but I hope I actually saw some of the 2016 gumption breaking through in the Cubs today, and it wasn’t just me hopefully projecting that onto them.  Time will tell, but they are still only 3 ½ games back in the Central Division.

  • Michael S.

    How many times have we thought these guys were getting over the hump this season? There’s been enough to make me think the trajectory of this season is shaped like a sine wave.

    They’re back at .500 for what, the 29th time this year? It’s hard to see it getting much better than that, comeback wins or not…how about some early leads holding up, or second base not becoming a wonderful place for a picnic for our baserunners?

    • Doug S.

      According to the dreaded spreadsheet, .500 at 19 times so far this year. Is 20 tomorrow?

  • Doc Raker

    Sherm- you made the top part so you may want to read it.

    We have our best pitcher starting today, Mr Mike Montgomery or MMM.

    Don’t vote KB or another Cub. #letthemrest

    • Kyle

      So much for him being our best pitcher…

      • Doc Raker

        killin me

  • Seymour Butts

    Not happy Schwarbs is back so soon. A week and a half is not time to undo the crap his swing had become.
    #letthemrest

    My first ever hashtag BTW.

    • Bryzzo1744

      Agreed with you on Schwarber. They should have waited until the all-star break.

    • Doc Raker

      I agree, he needs serious adjustments. Maybe they are hoping he shows well in July for a trade. If they keep him down all of July he has no trade value. He is being shopped.

    • Doc Raker

      I would prefer to keep him down until he is really ready and then bring him up. If he does well then consider a trade in the off season for some serious pitching. Right now they are trading at a low value in his career.

      • Seymour Butts

        So let me get this straight. You, Me, and CAPS all agree on something.
        Armageddon must be coming.

      • Doc Raker

        You are wising up, Armageddon is near.

      • Brad Lyerla

        “And there’s a mighty judgment coming, but I may be wrong.” Leonard Cohen (The Tower of Song)

      • Doc Raker

        That’s what Len said

  • Seymour Butts

    So Joe West gets home plate for the ASG. Apparently MLB does not take this game seriously either.

  • missed the game driving back from Eastern MT.. tuning in now.. off to a rough start

    • Doug S.

      Schwarbs caught looking in first at bat.

      • .. and Monty gets the hook

      • Doug S.

        2.1 innings and 5 runs. MMM (see above) not so great today.

      • Michael S.

        At least he knew where the strike zone was; Leathersich seems to have forgotten.

      • Doug S.

        Just walked 3 guys straight including the pitcher?

      • Michael S.

        I’m so glad I’m not watching this on TV. I’d need a new TV.

      • blood bath

      • Michael S.

        They only gave up a touchdown! Yeehaw!

      • Bryzzo1744

        1-2-3-4!

      • Doug S.

        Cubs just messing with us. Came back from 3 down yesterday “Hey, this is fun – let’s try 9 down tomorrow”

  • Brad Lyerla

    I was in Milwaukee yesterday for business. They believe in their team up there. They have a little magic going.

    • Seymour Butts

      You know thew Captain needed you for serious legal advice yesterday. All we heard was crickets.

      • (say pay with pennies)

      • Brad Lyerla

        Happy to help the Cap’n anytime.

      • cap’n realist

        What should I do with a letter from a law firm telling me to send them $73.20 for a parking ticket that the city of Chicago allegedly issued to me on 2/3/1997. That’s not a typo. 1997. I moved to SoCal in March of 1997, but didn’t live or work anywhere near the alleged infraction.

      • (say pay with pennies)

    • Sherm

      I don’t think it’s magic at all. I think they have assembled a pretty good team, and are playing solid baseball because they are being coached by a solid baseball guy…

      • Brad Lyerla

        they are playing good baseball. if I had used the word ‘chemistry’ instead of magic . . .

  • Michael S.

    Jon Jay bringing the medium-low heat…still pitched better than Jack Leathersich.

    • Doug S.

      I’d say we need a nickname for Leathersich but he won’t be around long enough for it to stick.

      • Michael S.

        ‘Player to be Named Later’.

      • cap’n realist

        Gregging Gregg

    • Doug S.

      Jay ERA = 0.00
      Leather**** = 27.00

  • Sherm

    It may have been a tear. It might have been allergies.

    Apparently after exhibiting such common sense, fundamental baseball Maddon called them together and said “no more of that shit. It’s not quirky and eccentric.” So, today, they went back to their ways.

    Thank goodness Schwarber is back. He makes everyone better. {insert eye roll here}

    I always read the top part. Out of respect for the writers. So shut up.

    Counsell is a far better manager than Maddon.

    • Crawl off that soap box and fill me in on Corey Black. We all do, but phoning in a feature is worse than an insurance job play-by-play.

      • Sherm

        I don’t need no stinkin’ soap box.

        I don’t post much anymore – for one thing, I’m a little busy. For another, how many different ways would you like me to rant about this team and how poorly they play compared to their God-given talent? It’s more fun to rant about a team who sucks when they suck…than a team who doesn’t, but does anyway. Maybe I’ll jump back in the rotation in the second half. Or not.

        Corey Black. As far as I can tell? Not playing. Or he’s a retired jockey. Google wasn’t sure which Corey Black I meant, and I wasn’t paying attention when he was a “thing” here, apparently.

        NOTHING is worse than a insurance job play-by-play. Every time CAPS graces us with one of those? He falls below Len Kasper and Mike Matheny on my list of “those” people…

  • Doc Raker

    MMM went Schwarbs on us and crapped the bed