Thank Goodness There’s a Rubber Game
The series against the Nats was one that, on paper, seemed to be one of the tougher matchups for the Cubs, even with the knowledge that they wouldn’t be facing Max Scherzer. Saturday’s game, in which they drew ex-just-about-every-teamer Edwin Jackson, seemed like it would be a rather easy W to drop in to the calendar–even before the first inning. When the offense logged 4 runs on 5 hits–including new Cub Alex Avila‘s first homer with the team–in the inning, you almost wanted to breathe a sigh of relief…surely, if they can hang 4 on Jackson in the first, they were on their way to a romp, John Lackey‘s issues with longballs aside.
But, that’s not the way things have gone for the 2017 Cubs. Jackson settled down to get through a full 5 innings, all the while striking out 8(!) Cubs, giving up only one additional hit, and not walking a guy. Yes, Edwin Jackson went 5 innings without walking a guy. How many times did he do that while we were paying an arm and a leg for him? I’m guessing somewhere in the vicinity of 0.
The first inning run bug once again appears to be biting the Cubs starters, after starting well out of the break in that facet of the game; the last 3 or 4 games, though, have seen runs coming across for the visitors pretty consistently again. Its hard to say why even the better arms in the rotation are getting touched up, but it’s something that definitely won’t fly if/when October baseball rolls around. End of the day, though, Willson Contreras did enough for the Cubs to win, while playing left field, and the Cubs remain half a game up on the Brewers in the division (no thanks to Tampa Bay).
Putting All Your Catchers In The Same Lineup
I get that you don’t want to sit Willson Contreras right now; he’s pretty much the Cubs only significant offense recently. I also understand you want to get Avila some time behind the plate, learning the staff, so on and so forth. But putting both guys in the lineup in the game game is playing with fire–see the Kyle Schwarber injury last year, and understand at the same time that the Cubs don’t have another Willson Contreras down on the farm. Sure, Contreras is an improvement over Schwarber in LF, and its hard to see Schwarber being used as a backstop right now in any event other than an emergency (it’s likely Maddon doesn’t either, as he was the first pinch hitter off the bench batting in the 5th and he did not stay in the game). You end up locking both guys into the game on top of that, unless you want to end up one bad route or slide away from using, I don’t know, Justin Grimm as a catcher.
Rizzo, Rizzo, Rizzo…
The Nats’ 4th run came around as a result of a throwing error to finish a double play, charged to Javy Baez. It wasn’t the most horrible throw, but at the same time, Rizzo got leather on the ball. He gets it if he’s willing to take his foot off the bag, and either keeps it to runners on 1st and 3rd with 2 out, or you get Bryce Harper in a rundown between 3rd and home (which gives you a good chance of ending the inning).
Minor (League) Matters
Triple-A: Iowa v Fresno (W, 6-1)
Seth Frankoff gave Iowa a good start, 5 innings of 1-run ball, but would wind up with a no-decision as he ended up leaving with a deficit. Victor Caratini got Frankoff off the hook with a 2-run shot in the 6th off Fresno’s starter, who left without recording an out in the 6th; this would end up being the difference in this one.
Double-A: Tennessee v Pensacola (W, 6-2)
Tennessee took a 3-0 lead in the 4th when Yasiel Balaguert scored on a Trey Martin single, and from there the Smokies never really looked back. Pensacola closed the gap with two in their half of the 7th, but Tennessee responded with two of their own in the home half of the frame.
A-Adv: Myrtle Beach v Salem (W, 4-3)
A nice day for the Cubs’ organization, with yet another win by a farm team. The Pelicans took a 3-run lead in the 1st, before letting Salem nibble away before tying it in the 4th. DH Jesse Hodges knocked a solo homer in the 6th to break the tie, and the Pelicans held on for the W.
Class A: South Bend @ Bowling Green (L, 8-0)
South Bend gives us our first L of the day in the organization, and also the first road team of the day. Bowling Green scored in 4 of their 8 offensive innings, while the SB-Cubs managed only 6 hits on the day.
Short-A: Eugene @ Spokane (In Progress, Eugene trails 8-7, Top 5)
A game in progress, but I did want to check in on Cubs’ first rounder Brendon Little, making his second start for Eugene tonight. It’s…not pretty, folks. He was pulled after giving up 6 runs in 1.2 innings, with 7 hits, 1 walk, and 1 lonely strikeout. He’s sporting a 17.36 ERA in 4.2 innings total, something that hopefully improves. That said, Eugene aren’t going quietly into the night in the northwest, as the gap is down to one run in the 5th.