The Cubs Go Streaking!
After a little 9th inning drama, the Cubs find themselves mired in…a 4-game winning streak? That’s only their 3rd all year, and first since a 5-game streak to start the month of June against the Cardinals and Marlins. When we were all a few years younger, with less gray hair, and not ready to fire people. Evidently, the All-Star break (for everyone but Wade Davis) did something good for these guys, as they’re 4-0 out of the break, and have scored 31 runs in those four games.
In last night’s game, we got a look at the Good Jon Lester, who managed to get through 7 innings (that’s two 7-inning outings in a row for the starters), allowing only one run–a 3rd inning run resulting from Javy Baez deciding to play target practice with an iPad in the 1st base dugout. However, in the 5th, the Cubs managed to get a couple runs of their own across against Braves starter Julio Teheran thanks to a renewed understanding of stringing hits and walks together. They would load the bases later in the inning, before Kyle Schwarber was victimized by 1B Freddie Freeman on a ball down the line (Freeman would do the same to Zobrist to end the 6th, altogether saving probably 4 runs). Freeman would find himself victimized by Schwarber on defense in the bottom of the 6th, with a nice running grab in foul territory that sent him butt over breakfast into the stands.
Rizzo would add a solo homer in the 7th, his 3rd straight game with a long ball, and the first Cub to homer in Atlanta’s shiny new ballpark. In the 8th, it looked like they would get something going again when Ian Happ knocked a ball to left, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. Without that, Javy Baez’s double later in the inning (which was also probably ill-advised) likely gives them runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out, rather than a runner on 2nd with 2 out; Addison Russell‘s subsequent double would have driven in two, instead of 1, and made the score (then) 5-1 instead of 4-1.
Wade Davis saved the game, but not without surrendering 3 singles (with a run-scoring wild pitch mixed in for good measure), ultimately loading the bases with the score 4-3 after an intentional walk to Matt Adams, and an unintentional one to Gatorade abuser Sean Rodriguez. Ultimately, the Cubs got the 3rd out, and the W, and that’s about all that matters for right now.
Lester Isn’t A Statue!
Turns out, Jon Lester isn’t just a statue that has a set motion for pitching! In the 3rd, he knocked a long double, but it wasn’t in that play that he showed us just how well his legs could work if he’s so inclined. In the 6th, after a 2-out walk, he ended up being credited with a steal of 2nd (I’ll be honest, I didn’t see the play, so I don’t know how legitimate of a steal it actually was) before Zobrist grounded out to end the inning. Even if it wasn’t a legit stolen bag, it does show…he is capable of moving. I mean, he has more career stolen bases than home runs! Now, if only he could do some of that, you know, when the ball is in play 15 feet from him, instead of glaring at Rizzo for having to run 60 feet to get it himself.
Roster Moves Incoming…
With John Lackey to be activated for today’s game against the Braves, and Kyle Hendricks being activated probably during the weekend series against St. Louis, naturally there will be some changes to the roster. All indications are that Lackey stays in the rotation–and home plate umpires across MLB rejoiced!–and I would hope that Montgomery stays around as a long man in the bullpen. So, two guys are ultimately going to have to move. If I had to guess–and this is really just a guess–Justin Grimm probably heads back to Iowa today, and Eddie Butler goes back when Hendricks gets activated. That way, Butler can stay around as a long man while Montgomery makes one more start, and the Cubs still maintain an 8-man bullpen, if my abacus is working correctly.
A Look Ahead
So far, the Cubs have had a pretty soft landing coming out of the break, decimating the Orioles and getting the Braves shortly thereafter. After the off-day Thursday, though, comes what looks to be a rather important 10-game stretch that includes 3 games at home against the Cardinals, a 4-game home-and-home set against the White Sox, capped by 3 at Miller Park against the Brewers. The bookends of that block are important for obvious reasons–those are the teams right behind and right ahead of the Cubs in the standings, respectively; you don’t want the Cards to gain any ground, nor the Brewers to get further away. The games against the Sox though are 4 games against a weak opponent (that the Cubs just weakened further with the Quintana acquisition, who is on schedule to start the last game of that series) that the other teams in the division will not play. Their interleague schedule instead would have a few more games against better competition.
This will be a briefer look at the Cubs’ farm teams today:
Double-A: Tennessee vs Mobile (W, 3-2)
Kyle Hendricks made his 2nd rehab start at Tennessee, and managed to turn in…5 perfect innings. Duane Underwood took over to start the 6th, and the game stayed perfect until 1 out in the 9th; unfortunately, though, Mobile would end up scoring two in the frame to tie the game. In the Smokies’ 9th, though, Cael Brockmeyer singled in Daniel Spignola with 2 out for the walkoff. Not quite a perfect finish, but, good enough.