Where's Banks When You Need Him?
Baseball here, baseball there; baseball, baseball everywhere…
Friday night I got home from work as quick as I’m able, changed outfits and headed to the ballpark, arriving in the second inning of game one as the I-Cubs dug into the first of four games with the Nashville Sounds in barely 24 hours.
We went with a group of friends and sat at one of the picnic tables in the leftfield corner so I had neither my usual vantage point nor perspective. On the first pass of the cart-mounted mortar we scored an I-Cubs t-shirt. While Rodrigo Lopez labored to preserve the bullpen I worked my way through a lineup of hot dog, nachos, peanuts, soda and lemonade, looking up only at the crack of Tony Rizzo’s bat to watch #18 jump the center field wall. I seem to recall him later singling in the middle of a game-winning seventh (i.e., last) inning rally that first tied and ultimately won the first episode of the weekend marathon. It would not have been a good thing had the opener of the quad-stacker extended into extras.
Game two opened with me indigested, Corey Patterson penciled in as the Sounds’ leftfielder (batting seventh) and Rafael Dolis flirting with a pair of blondes along the short bullpen wall. While I fasted the Sounds cruised to a split of twinbill numero uno. Rafael went unscored upon later in the evening but I wonder if the same could be said for the two blondes.
I stayed away from the ballpark Saturday, opting instead for a day at the races; even dropping a couple of bucks I bet to show on a longshot named “Big Z” in the eighth race. Meanwhile, back at the ballpark, Iowa and Nashville split again with the I-Cubs taking the opener behind a complete-game 1-0 shutout authored by Brooks Raley before dropping the nightcap, 3-2. I was afraid the teams might be reduced to playing tee-ball at some point in their fourth game in two days but thanks to pretty sturdy starters both pitching staffs survived.
Yesterday I took a daytrip to Target Field to watch the big club become a 20-game winner. Try to think of their winning percentage as a batting average.
The Twins’ playground has already depreciated into just another with all the obnoxious bells and whistles that ensure a start-to-finish sensory bombardment whenever you dig deep enough to finance an outing to a big league venue. When they posted the lineups on the skyscraping Jumbotron before the game the Cubs’ struck me as a list of MLB’s Nine Least Wanted when I saw the names on that scale. Heart of the order = DeJesus, Soriano, Baker. Ye gods...
Dempster didn’t disappoint, outpitching Liriano to enable a rare win over an opposing southpaw. Castro seemed hobbled in scoring his third run of the day but he gamely shuffled back out to man his position and finish the game. Maybe he’s just tired. I know I am. Remember the flip side of the Meat Loaf hit: One Outta Three Ain't Good.
While the Cubs were salvaging the finale in Minneapolis the same stout breeze that was at our backs driving north was escorting Rizzo’s 19th and 20th over and out back home in Des Moines. Brett Jackson tagged one, too, operating out of the two-hole I noticed, just ahead of Rizzo. He’s been batting sixth against lefties of late while staying in his customary leadoff spot versus righties. Yesterday’s starter for Nashville was a right-hander. Jackson also swiped his 12th base. His 80 whiffs lead the PCL.
Tonight the I-Cubs open a series at home against the division-leading Omaha Storm Chasers, hoping to close the ten-game gap that separates the two clubs.
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.