Bruises, Platinum Sombreros, and Willson!
Willson Contreras strolled to the plate in the first inning with two men on and promptly launched a three-run blast into the left field stands, just as I was hoping he would do in the ninth inning on Monday. Despite striking out 17 times, the Cubs went on to a fairly comfortable 7-2 victory over the team from the south side.
Contreras, despite playing virtually every game with limited rest, has really settled into the fourth spot in the lineup. It’s been mentioned before, but his positive and excitable attitude just to be able to play the game has to be infectious in some way to some of the other younger players.
Probably one player that it doesn’t rub the right way with is starting pitcher John Lackey. He certainly seems like a hard-ass, traditionalist but I digress. Lackey had a decent game for a fifth starter. Five innings pitched, two runs allowed, five strikeouts, and some shit disturbed. The main thing that I noticed is that the Cubs gave up another big hit to an American League pitcher, seems like that happens a lot.
All in all, good win for the home team as they snapped a pesky one game losing streak.
Bean Balls: Lackey hit Jose Abreu in the first inning and that was just the precursor to what was to come in the fifth inning when he hit Abreu, Matt Davidson, and Yoan Moncada. Lackey wriggled out of the self-made jam with a ground out. Unfortunately for Ian Happ, he got to wear one for the team so that the White Sox could “even” things up. The Sox also had a chance to hit Lackey himself as he came to bat later in the inning but chose to get the out instead. I would imagine a ball even a little bit inside would have cleared the benches. Have to see if anything carries over as the teams play Wednesday night.
Platinum Sombreros: As discussed in the comment sections of an earlier post, Javier Baez accomplished a pretty rare feat. He struck out five times in a game (swinging each time as a bonus), a normal length game at that. While I would say it’s a pretty easy feat to accomplish, I’m quite sure that if I had five at-bats in one game I would easily join the club, but perhaps a MLB player trying to hit the ball would have more trouble striking out than I would.
Interestingly enough, Sammy Sosa is the all-time leader in five strikeout games as he managed to accomplish the feat four times in his career. Baez has a chance to beat this record I believe.
Who, if anyone, could convince Baez to at least try a new approach with two strikes, especially with runners on base? Is it Maddon? Mallee? Theo? Maybe a respected veteran that uses a different approach like Rizzo? I would think just making contact instead of striking out 150 times would improve your stats tremendously.
Bryant Gets the Boot: If there was a pool on who would be ejected arguing balls and strikes, Kris Bryant would be well down my list. I don’t even think I would put him in the top 10. Well, Bryant finally had enough today as he was ejected arguing with Lance Barksdale in the fourth inning. Unless Bryant said one of Carlin’s seven words you can’t say on television, Barksdale had a quick trigger.
Bryant, of course. was correct that the called third strike was a ball, and not really that close, but I think the ball that he fouled off into his knee may have made the ejection much more palatable as he could hit the whirlpool sooner. Plus, the ejection allowed him to miss the “opportunity” of getting a golden or even platinum sombrero (he had three strikeouts in three at-bats through four innings) and taking away some of Baez’s glory.
Excellent Pen Work: Lackey tried to pitch into the sixth inning but all that led to was putting the tying run into scoring position with nobody out. Carl Edwards Jr. was called upon to do his best to keep the game competitive. Edwards didn’t disappoint as he struck out the first batter, fielded a grounder hit back to him (getting the out at first after looking back both the runners on third and second), and then striking out Abreu to get out of the inning with no runs scored. Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, and Brian Duensing each threw a scoreless inning to finish the game.
Latest Rumors: I didn’t notice any new rumors on the trade front but as many have mentioned, Theo and Co. seem to come up with trades that haven’t been run through the rumor mill. Obviously the team will still look for a backup catcher and probably another relief arm or two but in general it could be a fairly quiet week for the Cubs.
Coming Up: The Crosstown Rivalry heads to the south side for games Wednesday and Thursday night. Both games are nationally televised as Rick Sutcliffe and David Ross will announce for ESPN on Wednesday and the MLB Network will show Thursday’s game (though it looks like it might be joined in progress). Jake Arrieta (9-7 4.11 era) goes against James Shields (2-2 5.79 era) on Wednesday.
Down on the Farm
AAA – Iowa (46-54) 2, El Paso 1: Mark Zagunis hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning, his 12th of the season, to lead the Cubs to victory over the Chihuahuas. Rob Zastryzny pitched six strong innings to get the victory and Matt Carasiti picked up his 16th save. I think Carasiti will see some time in Chicago in September if not sooner.
AA – Tennessee 3 (53-47), Montgomery 4: Duane Underwood took the loss giving up four runs in six innings. The good news for Underwood is that none of the runs were earned. Shortstop Carlos Penalver made his 17th error of the year and also ended a rally in the ninth when he grounded into a double play with the bases loaded.
High A – Myrtle Beach 0 (55-46), Carolina 4: Not much to see here. Leadoff batter Zack Short led the Pelicans with three hits in the loss.
Low A – South Bend (45-54): Day off on Tuesday, hosts Lake County on Wednesday.
R – Eugene (21-18) 5, Salem-Keizer 5: Through five innings the game was knotted at 5’s.