Take The Ones You Can Get
Cubs versus Reds…the worst of the worst division in baseball this year (wasn’t the NL Central pretty close to a division leader under .500 at one point?). These are the games you’ve gotta win. Heck, when the schedule the rest of the way has a combined winning percentage under .500, you should win most of the rest of the way.
And then you get to the pitching matchup for the first game on Monday: Jose Quintana for the good guys, Asher Wojciechowski (hereafter “Cheap Seats”)–four-plus ERA, 6 starts on the year–for the other guys. A dream matchup, even with an offense that was basically the Kris Bryant show in Arizona, or at least felt that way.
Then the Cubs do some first-inning damage for once, and then apparently sent Brett Anderson out to the mound in a Jose Quintana uniform to pitch, and we were treated to what seemed to be a genuine look of confusion (or constipation) on Chris Bosio‘s face on his way out to the mound. Decidedly, this wass not the guy we gave up Eloy Jimenez for, and I’m starting to wonder if somehow we might have gotten hosed on that deal. Regardless, game tied, pitch count up, it felt like it was going to be one of those nights.
The first 5 innings of this game were agonizingly slow. Maybe my perception is off, but it seemed like both Quintana and Cheap Seats were taking as long as the possibly could between pitches, and I may have only missed an out or two when I decided to take a run to the gas station. We passed the 2-hour mark before the top of the 5th was over. Perhaps a cattle prod would be a better way to get things moving along?
The feel-good story of the night, Jon Jay flirting with a cycle (and a natural cycle at that), got effectively short circuited by Bryan Price electing to give him first in the 7th. My TI-83 is a bit rusty, but with 5 outs, that made it pretty unlikely that he was going to get another chance to get it (he did get a chance, against Scooter Gennett–3rd Reds pitcher of the night with a goofy name–but, no dice). I get them walking him, from a baseball standpoint; get the double play in order, and avoid pitching to the guy who has beaten up your pitching all night. Same time, though, chances to tick a box like that off the bucket list don’t happen every day…walking a guy there is about as bad as walking a guy with a hitting streak on the line but is 0-3 on the night–especially when you’re down big late.
Reds manager Bryan Price seems to want the crown for Worst Pitching Management from Joe Maddon; to start, he left Cheap Seats in for 4 consecutive 2-out hits in the 4th before bringing in
Rusty Kevin Shackelford, and again forgot he can make pitching changes in the 7th when he let Drew Storen twist in the wind while the Reds pretended it was the Little League World Series at Wrigley.
Kyle Schwarber ended his multi-game Uranium Sombrero run by…getting hit by a pitch. It counts? He legitimately worked a walk later, and took another ‘hit’ by pitch later on, before finally hitting through the shift (ish) on his second chance in the 7th. Ok, so he’s getting on base, but by and large not by virtue of his own bat. He’s swinging the bat like the Hulk with 20/100 vision while attending the Anthony Rizzo school of getting on base, but only absorbing the wrong lessons. One way or the other, he needs to end up in Iowa, or he’s gonna end up on the DL with another blown out knee.
Help Wanted: Infielders Apply Inside at 1060 W. Addison
Addison Russell is on the DL, and in an interview today, indicated that he’s not going to be rushed back. Ben Zobrist was scratched with a sore neck. Ian Happ is honestly a better outfielder than infielder. And without Eloy Jimenez down at Iowa, the roster of AAA infielders is looking…rather sparse. Figure in that none of those guys are on the 40-man roster right now, and…well, suffice to say any more injuries, particularly up the middle, will make Tommy La Stella an everyday player.
Somewhat related, if they’re not going to rush Russell back from this ‘foot injury’ (I’ve not seen a more specific diagnosis on it), I’d bet that Willson Contreras‘ return is going to be handled with care as well. If he’s back much before the postseason (if, there is to be any postseason play in 2017), I’d be a bit surprised.
A couple of nights ago, the Cardinals fans started crawling out of the woodwork over a briefly-lived tie in the NL Central race. Not long ago, they were mired in a 3rd place tie with Pittsburgh, and things felt relatively good. But, it’s a good reminder that, while being ahead is better, a good run of good play combined with a stumble by the leading team can flip flop those standings quickly, and this year there is no wild card to sneak the Cubs in. I wouldn’t think I’d be this unsure of being in the postseason, in mid-August, right after winning the whole enchilada, but…these are odd times.