Game #64 Preview: A's @ Cubs
The A's make their second-ever visit to Wrigley Field—the Cubs are the only National League never to have played in Oakland—having been swept this past weekend in San Francisco.
The weather forecast is not promising, with Weather.com saying there is a 100% chance of precipitation through the shank of the evening. Is there a rainout-forced doubleheader in these teams' immediate future? If there's anything better than interleague play, it's an interleague doubleheader made necessary by the screwy MLB schedule...which became infinitely screwier when MLB adopted interleague play.
The A's come in Foxless, having DFA's former Cub Jake Fox yesterday. Earlier today, the A's picked up first-baseman/left fielder Conor Jackson from the Diamondbacks. Jackson is not in the A's starting lineup; not sure if he will be in uniform tonight at all.
Speaking of the lineups...
A's vs. Carlos Zambrano (2-4, 6.05; 1-0, 1.35 vs. A's)
Davis 8, Barton 3, Sweeney 9, Suzuki 2, Kouzmanoff 5, Cust 7, Ellis 4, Pennington 6, Cahill 1
Cubs vs. Trevor Cahill (5-2, 2.91; first start vs. Cubs)
Theriot 4, Castro 6, Byrd 8, Lee 3, Colvin 9, Soriano 7, Tracy 5, Hill 2, Zambrano 1
Zambrano is making his third start since returning to the rotation. Last time out, he survived five walks over five innings to beat the Brewers. A's starter Trevor Cahill is coming off one of the best starts of his career, an eight-inning, one-run effort against the Angels. He has been successful recently by keeping the ball down in the strike zone and avoiding the longball—just one HR allowed over the past 33 innings.
Things you learn about the A's and Cubs from spending way too much time on Baseball-Reference.com:
Greatest former Cub who wound up playing for the A's: Billy Williams.
Winningest former Cub pitcher who wound up playing for the A's: Kenny Holtzman, who went 80-81 for the Cubs before joining the A's in 1972 and going 77-55 in four seasons.
Most petulant player who wore both Cub and Athletic uniforms: you might rush to say Milton Bradley. But I'm going to go with Dave Kingman, who was well on his way to the Jerk Hall of Fame before Milton had even played his first Little League Game.
Note: Baseball-Reference.com doesn't rank players by petulance. That one is my call.
This one's for you, Kong.
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.