Wacha Wacha Wacha!
Say that to any die-hard Cardinal fan today, and you’re liable to end up with at least a dirty look, and possibly the need for some dental work (it depends on how hardcore they consider themselves to be among the Best Fans in Baseball). But, a good offensive showing against Michael Wacha–who ate all 5 of the Cubs runs–gives the Cubs the rubber game against the Cardinals for their 3rd straight series win out of the All-Star break.
Oh, and a share of first place, if you ignore digits beyond the thousandths in the winning percent maths. If you don’t ignore those extra numbers, the Cubs are in first right now.
Jose Quintana gave the Cubs 6 fairly good innings–he gave up 3 runs himself, throwing just under 100 pitches in the process, yet struck out 7–and the bullpen did…pretty much the exact opposite of what they did on Friday. Yes, the Cardinals got baserunners in the 7th, 8th, and 9th, but it didn’t feel as though there was a whole lot of drama through those innings. Wade Davis continued to do Wade Davis things, closing out his 20th save of the year, still without a blown save all season.
Home runs played a pretty good part in the scoring for the Cubs today, with 3 of the 5 runs scored coming on Kyle Schwarber‘s solo moonshot and Willson Contreras‘ go-ahead 2-run shot, which concluded the scoring for the game.
About That Schwarber Dinger…
Schwarber’s 4th inning home run tied the game up again after the Cards had pulled ahead again in their half of the frame, but one thing did stand out looking at it again–the pitch he hit was a cutter, that was up in the zone a bit and in. Which is an area that, before he was sent down to Iowa, pitchers seemed to be exploiting and he just couldn’t adequately get to. Certainly anecdotal, as it is just one hit out of the at bats he’s had since the end of his exile, but if he’s gotten that hole patched up it is going to get a little harder for pitchers to beat him consistently. His batting average is creeping back up toward .200 over recent days, a few multi-hit games would be great to see.
Welcome Back, Kyle (Hendricks Edition)
Kyle Hendricks is set to be activated for game one against the other team in town today, which means we should see a reliever (I’m guessing Felix Pena, called up Saturday to swap places with a suddenly cooperative Tommy La Stella) head back down before the game. Nothing against Mike Montgomery or Quintana, but it will be good to have Hendricks back in the rotation, particularly if he can replicate the kind of performance he gave the Smokies during his rehab starts. I don’t imagine, first start after the DL, he’ll get to throw too deep in the game (unless he is mega-efficient), but one would hope the bullpen can handle the White Sox who have lost 9 in a row and are rumored to be headed to Triple-A themselves next month.
Trade Deadline Looming
Today marks a week until the trade deadline, and it seems apparent that this season again, the Cubs are going to be buyers, even beyond the deal already made to acquire Quintana. There has been talk of the Cubs being after the Tigers’ Alex Avila, the Rangers’ Jonathon Lucroy to bolster their catching depth (apologies to Victor Caratini, whose batting average makes this writer long for Koyie Hill again), as well as pitchers Yu Darvish, Chris Archer, Sonny Gray, Brad Hand, Justin Wilson, and Zach Britton, and probably others. It seems most likely that the Cubs target a bullpen arm and a catcher for the short term, as these are more pressing needs for the team right now; the rotation is going to be best addressed in the offseason through free agency. In the postseason, you really don’t need more than 4 starters, and you could do worse than a rotation of Quintana, Lester, Arrieta, and Hendricks–Lackey can watch October from home, if he’s got an issue.