Attack of the Soler Powered Headlines
Well, he passes the eyeball test with flying colors. Entering the ballpark in the top of the first you know something new has been added to the home team as soon as you fix on the leggy right fielder. Clear from the mezzanine behind home plate you can’t help but notice that pair of long, thick Cuban stogies as he lopes under the game’s first out.
The lineup now has some real heart to it, what with serial sluggers hitting third, fourth and fifth.
Baez fanned meekly to end the 1st. Bryant reached on an error leading off the 2nd and swiped a base (two in effect since the surprised, belated throw ended up in the outfield and advanced Bryant to 3rd) while all attentions were on the new kid in town hitting behind him. Soler had to be anxious but he never swung before walking on a pitch that nearly beaned him. Next time up, though, he followed Bryant’s single with one of his own, guided right back up the middle on the first pitch he saw. Then later he would accept another base on balls when he passed on a close 3-2 pitch. He appears to have what used to be known as “a good eye” before it was euphemized into “command of the zone.”
By their third turns Baez must have been chomping to reclaim some spotlight. So he launched an OMG moonshot over and out of the playing premises into the leftfield parking lot. There was some wind behind the blast but still it was something to behold. Maybe a better barometer of his prodigious power was the double he swatted on Wednesday afternoon when he took an outside pitch off the base of the wall in center, sans breeze. The crack of the bat registered somewhere between a literally cracked bat and the thunderous boom of last night’s homer. It was kind of a brittle sound like the taking of a small bite; the peep of a popup. And it went off the base of the wall in dead center.
Suddenly the club that’s been trailing the PCL in hitting most of the summer looks the most dangerous on paper. Don’t forget that Mike (all or nothing at all) Olt has also been stirred into the mix. Last night he laced a bases-loaded, bases-clearing double and got to soak up some cheers from a nice-sized crowd for the first time in what must have felt like a mighty long time. And in another at-bat he bounced a, wait for it…single (gasp)! He also botched a play defensively at first base but that hardly matters.
It was a good night at the ballpark quite apart from all of those goings-on. The breeze felt refreshing and carried an almost narcotic aroma mixed from grilling sausage and popping popcorn. If you listened close you could hear the pwoosh of beer vendors popping open their merchandise. By the middle innings when the sun was calling it a day the field and sky looked through naked eyes the way they do through sunglasses at midday. It was one of those nights when I fell into trances between innings. Except when the t-shirt bazooka fired a round straight at me. I caught it, banded up like a cowboy’s bedroll. I figured it was probably something from a realtor or insurance agent; probably in a medium or a large so I didn’t even bother to unroll it until I got home. It was fun just to be one of the few among nearly 10,000 to actually win something for free! The fact that it turned out to be a genuine I-Cub t-shirt, size XXL, made it almost hard to fall asleep, even way past regular lights-out; even sporting that brand new pajama top. But I managed, with visions of back-to-back-to-back soaring in my head.
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.