Sunday, September 20th, 2015
Before we get to the five things, I wanted to take a minute and thank everyone for reading this blog. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and we don’t do enough to say thank you. I could try to come up with something witty and try for a Lizzie, but instead I truly want to say thank you. This season is the reason I started the blog back in 2003. Let’s hope this one turns out better than that one did.
About Last Night
CARDINALS 4 @ CUBS 5 - I went into the day knowing I had work around the house to do and knowing that not only were the Cubs playing at 1:05 pm, but that Notre Dame was playing at 3:30 pm. My hope was that the Cubs had jumped out to such a lead that I would feel safe turning off the game on the big screen, leaving it muted on the iPad next to me and watching the Irish, and at kickoff that was exactly what happened. With a 5-1 lead, I confidently made the switch. Then came the 9th and I was forced to turn my focus back to the Cubs until they held on to win.
It was an interesting lineup that Joe Maddon trotted out there on bullpen day. but a lot of it makes sense. Austin Jackson started the game in CF. You might ask yourself why Dexter Fowler wasn’t out there since he’s been hot and he’s a switch hitter. The answer is because Michael Wacha is a righty and that puts Dex on the left side of the plate, a spot he’s not hit well this year. I’ve never understood why guys don’t just scrap the switch hitting nonsense when the split is so vastly different when it comes to production, but I digress. That move failed as Jackson went 0-for-5. Jorge Soler was back in the lineup, but hitting 2nd. It seemed to do fine as he hit a solo shot and drew a walk before being pulled mid-game. No injury to report there, just rest and easing him back. Soler’s home run was part of a back to back pair by him and Kris Bryant. It’s so much fun to watch the kids do that. Do you feel like a proud parent watching them? I know I do, and I can only imagine how Theo and Jed feel when that happens.
It was bullpen day, as I mentioned before so we were treated to a combo start from Travis Wood and Trevor Cahill, both who tossed the ball well. Cahill even got out of a mini pickle, a gherkin shall we say, in the 5th inning to hold the Cardinals scoreless. The big question going into bullpen day was how Maddon and the Cubs would retaliate from the hit by pitches the day before. Hector Rondon hit the first batter he faced, which I believe was unintentional, and was promptly asked to exit the ballgame and take Maddon with him. I don’t think that ends it. While I don’t think there will be immediate warnings before the game today, I would be surprised if there wasn’t at least some sort of chirping and tense moments. I think it would be silly for the Cardinals to think that Maddon would call for Rondon to throw at them, risking an ejection to your closer and forcing you to use Zac Rosscup. Really, I wouldn’t wish Rosscup on my worst enemy right now. He may turn into a useful lefty out of the pen, but right now I don’t want him messing around with the ballgame. You want to get him work? That’s what the bullpen mound is for. No Major League mound for Rosscup.
Jesse Rogers wrote:
“The home plate umpire came to me and said ‘I know it’s not on purpose’ but I have to take it,” Rondon said after the game.
Rondon had to go because in the previous inning Kolten Wong had been hit by-a-pitch for the second time and both benches were warned. And even though it’s pretty clear the Cubs weren’t going to waste their closer on hitting the leadoff man in a game they wanted to win, they understood why Dreckman took the action that he did.
“That’s an interpretation by the umpires,” manager Joe Maddon said after he was ejected by rule along with Rondon. “There’s a lot of pressure coming from the other side to do what eventually did happen.
“I’m not going to pass judgment, probably, because it worked out in our favor.”
Overall, despite the hiccup in the 9th, we pulled out a win and drew within 5 games of 1st in the division with two weeks to play. It’s not probable, but it’s possible. By the way, if you missed the play that ended the game, you have to watch. Addison Russell is a rock star.
Bryant is a Home Run King
With his home run on Saturday, Bryant tied Billy Williams for most home runs by a Cubs rookie with 25. I think it’s a safe assumption that he will break that record by the end of the season. It’s amazing to see how good he is and think about how much better he is going to get. His strike zone judgement is going to improve. His defense at third base is going to continue to improve. When all is said and done, I think Kris Bryant is going to be the best of the bunch when it comes to the Cubs prospects.
With the win, as I mentioned above, the Cubs are now five behind the Cardinals for the division lead and one game behind the Pirates for the lead in the wild card. Their magic number to clinch post season berth of any kind is 5. Basically, it’s gonna happen. The question now is what the end result is and where we start. I think the Cubs will pass the Pirates. I think the Jung Ho Kang injury is going to hurt them. While it’s silly to think that the loss of him in the lineup would result in the loss of more than one win down the stretch, there is something deflating about losing a key cog in the wheel. The Cubs are hot right now and the Pirates, despite winning yesterday against Clayton Kershaw (seriously, how does that happen?) are not. The question then becomes if we can pass the Cardinals. I don’t think we can, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try. Here is the remaining schedule for all three teams.
Cardinals – 14 games (Avg win % of remaining opponents – .485)
Cubs – Today
vs Cincinnati (3)
vs Milwaukee (4)
@ Pittsburgh (3)
@ Atlanta (3)
Pirates - 14 games (Avg win % of remaining opponents – .528)
@ Los Angeles – Today
@ Colorado (4)
@ Cubs (3)
vs St. Louis (3)
vs Cincinnati (3)
Cubs - 14 games (Avg win % of remaining opponents – .511)
vs St. Louis – Today
vs Milwaukee (3)
vs Pittsburgh (3)
vs Kansas City (1)
@ Cincinnati (3)
@ Milwaukee (3)
Stats to Know
- The Cubs have now won five straight home games and 11 of their last 13
- The Cubs have hit a home run in 17 straight home games, tying a franchise record set in 1961
- Anthony Rizzo is one hit by pitch away from joining the 30-30 club with 30 home runs and 30 hit by pitches. Can you name the only other player in Major League history to accomplish that feat? (Answer)
What’s On Tap?
THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY
1878 - Larry Schlafly is born
1908 – Zeke Bonura is born
1924 – The 37 year-old righty Grover Cleveland Alexander earns his 300th victory when the Cubs beat the Giants in 12 innings, 7-3. ‘Old Pete’ will collect 373 victories during his 20-year career.
1932 – The Cubs clinch the National League pennant when they beat Pittsburgh, 5-2, thanks to Kiki Cuyler‘s seventh-inning bases-loaded triple. The Wrigley Field contest features rookie second baseman Billy Herman‘s 200th hit of the season.
1953 – Gene Baker, the other half of the Kansas City Monarchs double play duo along with Ernie Banks, joins his former Negro League teammate, making his major league debut with the Cubs. In 1961, the second baseman will be named manager of the minor league Batavia, New York team, becoming the first black manager in organized baseball.
1960 - Randy Kramer is born
1961 – In a 13-inning contest, Sandy Koufax goes the distance, beating the Cubs, 3-2, in the last regular season game to be played at the LA Memorial Coliseum, which was originally built for the 1932 Olympics. The Dodgers are leaving the only home they have known since moving from Brooklyn four seasons ago to play in a brand new stadium in Chavez Ravine, located a few miles from downtown Los Angeles.
1972 – With a 6-2 complete-game victory over Montreal at Wrigley Field, Milt Pappas wins his 200th major league game. The Cubs’ right-hander becomes the first hurler to reach the milestone without the benefit of a single 20-win season.
2008 – With a 5-4 victory over St. Louis at Wrigley Field, the Cubs win their second straight National League Central Division championship. It is the first time the club will appear in consecutive postseasons since the 1906-08 teams played in the World Series.
2009 – The Cubs suspend Milton Bradley for the rest of the year, a day after the turbulent outfielder criticizes the team in a newspaper interview, citing there wasn’t a “positive environment” in the organization, and he could see why the club hasn’t won a championship in the last century. The decision whether Chicago brings back the 32 year-old, who still has two years remaining on a $30 million, three-year contract he signed as a free agent last offseason, will be general manager Jim Hendry’s call, according to manager Lou Piniella.
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