Everything Else Hockey

The Blackhawks are kicking off their preseason schedule tonight at the United Center. I don’t even know against who.

As should have become increasingly clear over the course of this summer given the disgusting details of the latest sexual assault scandal surrounding this team, as well as its ham fisted attempts to completely deflect any and all responsibility, interest in the Men of Four Feathers is at an all time low here at FFUDHQ, or at least it is for me personally. The attempts to rebuild this roster on the fly in the hopes that Coach Jeremy Prinze Jr. can finally get his head out of his taut, perky ass have done nothing to command attention either. There have been no roster previews, no think piece writeups, no top-level league wide analysis. I elected to not purchase my share of season tickets this year with the group I’ve been a part of for 13 years, and I know Sam gave his up entirely. These were not easy decisions to come to.

As such, and also given personnel limitations now that our onetime fearless leader is actually being compensated fairly for his work elsewhere, coverage here of the upcoming season is not going to be as it has been for the past decade. In a completely unexpected turn of events, the NHL actually did something smart last year by having its two and three game series during the abbreviated schedule, which allowed us all here to divvy up the workload in a far more digestable fashion. In going back to 82 games now, that becomes a little more daunting from not only the hours needed to write and watch, but also in the sense that watching this team for moral reasons still feels gross, and the fact that they’re still going to trot this completely counterintuitve and disorganized to the point of being offensive brand of hockey and it feels like a millstone.

None of this is meant to elicit any kind of sympathy whatsoever, even given my well documented martyrdom complex. It’s merely a statement of fact in order to properly set expectations on how this team is going to be covered. What we’re going to attempt to start out with is a twice a week digest form, likely published on off days however they fall, with a quick look back at the couple games that transpired, and a quick look forward at what’s ahead. We’ll also try to toss out the classics like the Sugar Pile and Angry At Numbers every so often when the inspiration hits.

So that’s about the temperature around here, just wanted to let everyone know what we’re shifting towards.

 

 

Everything Else

I think the craziest thing about the borderline-traumatic deadline selloff this year is that despite fielding what is essentially a glorified AAA team with maybe a future piece or two, the Cubs still find ways to completely drop the ball offensively against other AAA-level teams around the league like the Minnesota Twins. The baseball that went on this week was bad, considering we did lose both contests, but nothing matters anymore and we’re just counting down the days until the season ends. Let’s break things down.

September 21, 2021
Cubs 5, Twins 9
WP: Barraclough (2-0) LP: Mills (6-7)
Box Score

Pitching? Defense? None of that existed today for seemingly either team, with eight runs scored in the first four innings of the game. Alec Mills gave up six hits and six runs. He also fell victim to hitting the deck in the 4th inning instead of catching a ball that was hit right at him, which has genuinely never made any sense to me. Is it really going that fast? Is it really hit that hard? A hit that barely made it to the outfield? You really can’t catch it? Am I in the wrong here?

At least Scott F-Ross made an attempt at catching a ball hit right over his head in the 5th inning. It was just a bit too high and ended up scoring yet another Twin, making the score 6-3. And a quick hit after that one made it 7-3. And by this time the game was all but over.

The Cubs tried their best offensively, with the team getting 11 hits (four more than they had in their win against the Brewers) and Trayce Thompson tying the game in the 2nd inning with a two-run dinger. A Willson Contreras dinger in the 3rd put the Cubs ahead briefly, but the Twins got a two-run lead just a half-inning later. The Cubs’ defense just couldn’t stop tripping over themselves despite some good hits in the bottom of the 6th by Rafael Ortega, Frank Schwindel and Patrick Wisdom to make the score 7-5. That would be the last run the Cubs would score of the ballgame.

Every time a few runs were scored by the Cubs, the Twins just scored a few more, and by the 7th inning they had a four-run lead they wouldn’t give up. Every Cubs pitcher gave up at least one hit, with the five bullpen guys pitching an inning each. Trevor Megill had an especially terrible outing with four hits and two runs scored. I will enjoy wiping this game from my long-term memory.

September 22, 2021
Cubs 4, Twins 5
WP: Ryan (2-1) LP: Hendricks (14-7)
Box Score

This game started out with Frank Schwindel making a big play at first base early, catching a line drive and immediately flashing the finger guns in true Schwindel fashion. Other than that, the story early was that our dear friend Kyle Hendricks was credited with the loss because he allowed two homers for Max Kepler in the 1st and 4th innings.

Nico Hoerner had a two-run single in the bottom of the 2nd to match Kepler’s RBI number for the game thus far, which was good because for a while there I forgot Hoerner was on this baseball team. Glad to see he’s still doing something. He scored Happ and Matt Duffy, who walked and doubled earlier.

The offense on both sides stagnated a bit outside of Kepler’s second homer that put the Twins ahead. But it was mostly the Cubs, who had issues figuring out Joe Ryan with Two First Names, the Twins’ starter, who was throwing some nasty pitches. Just as the Phillies did to the Cubs not too long ago, the Cubs allowed Ryan to strike out seven batters in a row. Ryan ended up striking out eleven Cubs in only five innings pitched, which brings me great pain to tell you.

Kepler almost hit his third homer of the game in the 6th inning, but it bounced off the wall as our prayers were answered. An error from everyone’s favorite second baseman Matt Duffy allowed Kepler to score and extend their lead to 4-2. The Cubs wouldn’t be able to score any runs until the 9th, where it was Happ who RBI’d Schwidel and Contreras who, with a weird play at 1st, RBI’d Happ to make the score seem a little closer than the game actually was.

With the bases loaded, Trayce Thompson struck out on three pitches, the last one being completely in the dirt, to end the game in true Javy Baez fashion. It’s almost like he never left?

The Cubs have a four-game series this weekend against the St. Louis Cardinals, including a doubleheader tomorrow. The Cardinals are red-hot, having won eleven games in a row, sweeping other teams grasping blindly at playoff spots like the Mets and Padres, and all but cementing themselves as the second Wild Card spot for the NL with the next-closest teams 4.5 games back. This weekend will be painful, because we hate the Cards with everything in us and the Cards will probably destroy us in the end. Another instance where turning on the football may be a more lucrative experience for you. Go Cubs go.

Everything Else

As a Cubs fan, you hate the Brewers, and always will. Which means this series sucked, because you singlehandedly gave the Brewers and a stadium filled with tens of thousands of fans a guaranteed playoff spot (likely soon to turn into division title) while your team is destined to be mired in mediocrity for the rest of eternity. Here’s a wrap.

September 17, 2021
Cubs 5, Brewers 8
WP: Ashby (3-0) LP: Wick (0-1)
Box Score

I had déjà vu during the 4th inning of this Cubs game, when the Cubs went up 4-0 and I remembered the absolute shellacking that was handed to them in the previous game in which they blew a 7-0 lead. I knew the Cubs couldn’t hold onto that lead, and the Brewers proved me right in the bottom of that same inning. They scored three runs on no outs thanks to some rough pitching from everyone’s favorite, Zach Davies.

The Cubs would cling onto the one-, sometimes two-run lead until the bottom of the 8th inning when the Brewers took advantage of Rowan Wick, who gave up three singles and two walks in the inning to give the Brewers a 7-5 lead, all on two outs. He was yanked for Dillon Maples, who immediately threw a wild pitch that made it 8-5 Brewers, and then walked two more Brewers before throwing the final out of the inning. The damage had been done, however, as the Cubs couldn’t any runs back in the 9th and ended up losing this game.

September 18, 2021
Cubs 4, Brewers 6
WP: Williams (8-2) LP: F-Ross (2-1)
Box Score

Willson Contreras getting robbed of extra-base hits in the 2nd inning by a highlight-reel catch set the vibe of this entire game for the Cubs. (Patrick Wisdom had a highlight-reel catch of his own later on in the inning, though, that deserves a shoutout). Justin Steele gave up a home run in the bottom of the 2nd to give the Brewers the lead. Though the Cubs came back with a run of their own in the 3rd after three singles, the Brewers hit another dinger in what started out as a surprisingly exciting back-and-forth game.

Though the Cubs were able to score two runs in the top of the 5th off Corbin Burnes thanks to an Ian Happ home run, the Brewers are a playoff team for a reason and wouldn’t give up easily. Additionally, Adbert Alzolay gave up many a hit in his outing today — four in three innings, including one that tied the game in the 5th and a solo dinger to give the Brewers the lead back. It was Contreras, however, who tied the game singlehandedly with a solo homer of his own that deserves a mention here.

The lead didn’t last even half an inning in what was a pretty awful outing by Scott F-Ross. He allowed Manny Pina’s second home run of the night to put the Brewers up late on a tough pitch. Though F-Ross’s pitches can be nasty on occasion, just a slight misplacement of the ball can be trouble for the Cubs.

Two more hits off of F-Ross after that and the game turned to a whole new level of sickening. Contreras was struck out with a legal strike and had a meltdown to the umpire, getting himself ejected from the game — not that that even mattered, as the Brewers just pulled out Josh Hader for the save who had two strikeouts to win the game, and playoff spot, for the Brewers. Just kill me now.

September 19, 2021
Cubs 6, Brewers 2
WP: Morgan (1-0) LP: Boxberger (5-4)
Box Score

Not that anybody cares, but we somehow ended up in the final meeting of the season against these chumps, where nearly half of the baseball game was played with no score for other team. It was Trayce Thompson, today’s right fielder for the Cubs, who started off the scoring with a solo dinger in the 5th against Eric Lauer. However, the Brewers tied it up, once again only a half-inning later, with a walk and a couple of hits off of starter Adrian Sampson, one of which was just a few feet short of being a homer.

Strikeout Wonder Patrick Wisdom, who had four strikeouts in the previous game, struck out four times today and had nine strikeouts in the series, is obscene to me. (Previous Strikeout Wonder Javy Baez struck out only four times in his team’s weekend series against the Mets, for perspective.) However, Wisdom hit a three-run homer in the 8th inning that came after two walks and two hits for the Cubs to make a W seem possible. Suddenly, we were up 6-2 with only an inning and a half to go, and Wisdom was standing alone with the Cubs’ rookie home run record. Congrats to him, despite this win being a part of a much larger farce.

David Ross decided to gift Rowan Wick with a 9th-inning closer opportunity despite the fact that he was dogshit in the first game of this series. And surprise, surprise, Wick’s 9th inning today went about as predictably as you’d expect, putting the Cubs in genuine danger of throwing a four-run lead away late after he walked three and allowed two singles, loading the bases for the Brewers. Michael Rucker was tasked with getting one (1) out, and he got it thanks to a pop fly to center field that won us the game, thank God.

By the way, Nico Hoerner finally returned from his injury today, but if you didn’t notice him I wouldn’t find you at fault, since he went 0 for 4 tonight offensively and was the only non-pitcher for the Cubs today who didn’t even make it on base. So uh, figure that out, I guess.

Everyone gets an off-day tomorrow, and then the Cubs play the final series of the year against the Minnesota Twins, which is about as awful a series as I can think of. Just a few more weeks of this dreck, and hockey is just around the corner. We’ll muddle through together. Go Cubs go.

Everything Else

There’s nothing funnier than when a Cubs team with nothing to play for spoils a playoff-contending team by winning the series. It gets even funnier when it’s the Cincinnati Reds, who only got one win and arguably should’ve come out of this series with all three to jump back into a playoff position. Now they are a game back of the Padres in the wild card race and the Cubs have won eight of their last nine games. Get your fun where you can get it at this point of a lost season.

September 6, 2021
Cubs 4, Reds 3
WP: Effross (2-0) LP: Lorenzen (0-2)
Box Score

The Reds become one of the more formidable opponents the Cubs have faced recently, as they poked holes in our defense and figured out Justin Steele the third time through the lineup, which is when opponents always figure out Justin Steele.

Ian Happ spotted the Cubs an early 3-0 lead after a fielding error and a single for Rafael Ortega and Frank Schwindel put them on base, putting Happ in the position to hit his big homer. That was just about all the offense either team allowed until the 6th, when things got stupid with Steele walking a batter, allowing a single and hitting two guys in a row.

Codi Heuer replaced Steele and we all watched as most of his pitches didn’t go where he wanted them to go, culminating toward the Reds tying the game on a double off of him. However, Scott F-Ross came in in the 7th and was able to pretty reliably shut down the Reds offense as they squandered their chances of moving back into a wild card position.

The nail in the coffin of this game was Frank Schwindel once again with the game-winning hit, which happened in the bottom of the 8th inning and scored Alfonso Rivas, who had singled earlier. Adam Morgan completely shut things down in the 9th with the save, which included a line-out for pinch hitter Joey Votto. A solid performance, despite a complete lack of offense for most of the outing with Sonny Gray on the mound.

September 7, 2021
Cubs 3, Reds 4
WP: Miley (12-5) LP: Sampson (0-2)
Box Score

Despite their best efforts and a start from Adrian Sampson, the Cubs weren’t able to win their eighth in a row. Two homers – one a leadoff homer – in the 1st inning for the Reds made it so the Cubs couldn’t ever catch up. The Cubs were unable to figure out Reds pitcher Wade Miley, with only a Willson Contreras solo homer in the 3rd inning to dent Miley’s stats.

Sampson allowed six hits in five innings pitched and allowed no more runs after his shaky first inning. He also threw only one strikeout and allowed a walk, however, which is a somewhat-concerning stat. Miley, on the other hand, struck out eight Cubs in his seven innings pitched and allowed no walks and only five hits. Contreras’s homer was the only run he allowed, showing the Cubs how far this team actually is from having a solid starter. Pray for us all.

Sergio Alcantara had a few good throwing plays this game, which is good to see considering he seems to be the poor man’s Javy Baez replacement. Schwindel was also doing a good job of catching all of those throws—if a ball was hit to the infield today, the Cubs were able to get the out.

Manuel Rodriguez allowed two more Reds runs in the 8th inning, allowing big outfield hits that the current Cubs outfield couldn’t make plays on. The homer happy Cubs got two solo dingers in the bottom of the 8th from Rafael Ortega and Happ to make the score 4-3, but it wouldn’t be enough as the Reds took this one.

September 8, 2021
Cubs 4, Reds 1 (F/10)
WP: Heuer (7-2) LP: Brach (1-2)
Box Score

For the first four innings of this game the only runs to be had were solo dingers, one for each team: Ian Happ and Joey Votto, respectively. Other than that, it was for the most part a pitchers’ duel between Alec Mills and Vladimir Gutierrez. Mills was able to stay in for six innings and allowed four hits and a walk with three strikeouts. This is compared to Gutierrez, who despite only going five innings had twice as many strikeouts and half as many hits. Once again, our starting pitching has a long way to go to get to playoff contention.

Once Mills’s time was done, Rowan Wick allowed two hits but no runs in two innings pitched, and then Codi Heuer stepped to the mound to allow no hits and two strikeouts in his winning performance. His pitches are really something to watch; many of them never look like strikes because they’re always so inside, but whenever a player swings at those inside pitches they almost never make contact.

The unlikely hero of this game was Jason Heyward in the bottom of the 10th inning—everyone knew the ball was outta here seemingly as soon as the ball left his bat. He knocked in Contreras, the runner who had started on second base, and Patrick Wisdom, who hit a bloop to left field and ended up stealing second base soon after.

The Cubs are off today and then return this weekend to face the Giants and Kris Bryant, who is having the time of his life away from the Ricketts family and all you can do is wish him the best. Bryant was out on Tuesday for the Giants with an injury (shocker) but is supposed to make a quick return by the time this series tees off. Psst — remember Jake Jewell? Did you miss that he got picked off waivers when we tried to send him to the minors? (You wouldn’t be at fault if you did.) He’s now with the Giants’ AAA affiliate, which is where Jake Jewell is supposed to be when employed by a team with actual MLB-caliber players.

As for the Giants themselves, they still lead the MLB with 90 wins of this writing and will likely find themselves in the first-place playoff spot, as long as they keep the Dodgers an arm’s length away, which is what the Dodgers deserve. Wins will be hard to come by, and I’m not sure if Happ’s season in a can performance over the past month will be enough to fool this team. We’ll see what happens. Go Cubs go!

Everything Else

With just a little over a month left in this lost season, the Cubs continue to get crushed offensively as the number of fans that continue to watch these games dwindles. This weekend, the Cubs got outscored 19-5 and there was genuinely not a lot of good to see there. Even Keegan Thompson’s day on the mound on Saturday was a pretty forgettable one. Finally, as the cherry on top of this garbage sandwich, the Cubs are now in the midst of the longest home game losing streak in franchise history with loss number 13 in a row happening last night at Wrigley. Let’s review this dreck.

August 20, 2021
Cubs 2, Royals 6
WP: Keller (8-12) LP: Davies (6-10)
Box Score

Despite going up 2-0 early, the Cubs just couldn’t hold on, allowing the Royals to hit five solo homers to win the game 6-2. Zach Davies allowed four of those homers in 6 innings pitched: one in the 4th inning, one in the 5th and two in the 6th. Past the 3rd inning, the Cubs’ offense only had two hits (and one walk) for the rest of the game. When you can’t figure out the Royals’ pitchers, well…that’s not good for you.

Ian Happ’s offensive skills are showing signs of life, sort of, despite it being a bit too little, too late. He and Wisdom were just about the only noticeable hitters, as Wisdom hit a solo homer to put the Cubs ahead in the 2nd, and in the 3rd Happ singled to score Zach Davies (that hit, RBI and run scored likely won’t be happening a year from now.)

The Cubs did no more hitting, as Davies gave up four solo homers despite only allowing one other hit for his six innings played today. However, those solo homers obviously added up especially once the Cubs’ bats went flat. Rex Brothers pitched one hitless inning and then Ryan Meisinger allowed two hits that let the Royals pile on their lead. Jake Jewell gave up a solo homer in the 9th to end things for us in a pretty forgettable game.

August 21, 2021
Cubs 2, Royals 4
WP: Bubic (4-6) LP: Thompson (3-3)
Box Score

Well, Keegan Thompson lost his second career start, but things are pretty much always terrible for the Cubs these days. He obviously seemed a little nervous or jittery for this start, as the first run against him was scored on a wild pitch after allowing two hits in the first two at-bats of the game. Hopefully with a few more starts things will start to calm down in that regard?

Meanwhile, the Cubs offense continues to be almost league-worst. This is best shown through Kris Bubic, a pitcher who allowed 9 hits and 7 runs in 1.1 innings his last start, being able to no-hit this team through six innings. The offense continues to be horrendously broken, but nowadays there are no longer MLB-caliber players who get blamed for it; now it’s just what this team is.

Patrick Wisdom continues to be the only consistent form of Cubs offense as of late with yet another two-run homer to make this game not as embarrassing as it could’ve been. (Frank Schwindel walked.) That was the only hit the Cubs had the entire game, and at this point there’s nothing left to do as fans but shrug and say, what can you do?

August 22, 2021
Cubs 1, Royals 9
WP: Hernandez (4-1) LP: Mills (5-6)
Box Score

The Cubs once again got crushed yesterday, with Ian Happ responsible for the lone Cubs tally today. The Cubs were only able to get 5 hits compared to the Royals’ 16, which means that nobody was surprised to see 9-1 being the final score.

The starting pitching continues to be an absolute disaster, as the bulk of the Royals’ offense came off of starter Alec Mills, who gave up 11 hits and 7 runs in only 4.0 innings pitched. Starts genuinely don’t get much worse than this, despite his five strikeouts. At least he didn’t walk anyone?

Rowan Wick, surprise surprise, was the only relief pitcher who gave up any more runs, which I would consider to be a step in the right direction for everyone else involved. Ryan Meisinger came out in the 5th inning to relieve Mills of his duties. He had runners on second and third and got a strikeout and no hits to lower his ERA to 11.12. He did allow a sacrifice fly that scored a runner but since that runner was put on base by Mills it didn’t count against him. Adrian Sampson, Rex Brothers and Michael Rucker combined for only three hits together in the last three innings of the game. They also got four strikeouts.

The Cubs couldn’t figure out Royals starter Carlos Hernandez, who stayed in the game for seven innings and gave up only four hits. In the 4th inning, Ian Happ hit a ground-rule double and Matt Duffy’s single two batters later was able to send him home. Other than that, Hernandez shut down the club and that continued through the Royals’ two innings of relief, where the Cubs only allowed one hit.

In case you still cared, the Cubs now play the Rockies for the first half of this week. The Rockies are about as bad as the Royals and look how that worked out for the Cubs this weekend. The ugliness continues; if you’re still crazy enough to watch and read about this team, I’ll be back midweek with the wrap. Go Cubs go.

Everything Else

I hope everyone had a good All-Star Break. I moved apartments and was living life out of half-unpacked boxes and no wifi for six days. Luckily, I didn’t miss anything memorable outside of Willson Contreras having a small meltdown and the trading of Joc Pederson (what a replacement for Kyle Schwarber that turned out to be). The Cubs return from the break to face the Arizona Diamondbacks — a more even matchup than what may have been originally expected just three short weeks ago.

The MLB is about to rev back up again at the halfway point of the season, meaning we’re about to see Cubs galore get shipped off to (hopefully) greener pastures. Pederson is the first of the regular starters to do so, being traded to the Atlanta Braves for first base prospect Bryce Ball. I hear that Ball is supposed to be one of the higher-ranked prospects, and I also hear that his strikeout rate is at a glowing 27.8%. He’ll fit right in with the Javy Baezes of the team, if Baez will even come out the other side of this offseason as a Cub.

Meanwhile, the Braves hope that Pederson will be a suitable replacement for Ronald Acuna Jr., who has been sidelined for the rest of the season thanks to an ACL injury a few weeks ago. Acuna’s a really hard member of the team to replace, considering he leads his team with 3.6 WAR, but Pederson will try his best to fit in there as they try to make a playoff push.

July 16, 2021
Cubs 5, Diamondbacks 1
WP: Hendricks (12-4) LP: Bumgarner (4-6)
Box Score

Hendricks officially becomes the winningest pitcher in baseball; he’s already cemented his spot as the only truly consistent pitcher in the Cubs’ starting rotation, as they used the All-Star Break to give him the rest he needed to start after pitching technically just two games ago. He allowed only run one total in his 6.0 innings pitched, another quality start in the bag. Only six hits were made off of him and he walked three batters, striking out four. A single and a double in the 3rd inning scored the Diamondbacks’ only run.

The Cubs made quick work of the Diamondbacks after that. In the 2nd inning, Baez was able to single, steal second base, and score when Jake Marisnick hit a sacrifice fly. Then three home runs in the 4th and 7th innings closed the game down for the Cubs thanks to Rizzo, Patrick Wisdom, and Jason Heyward. Heyward also scored Ian Happ, who singled on a ground ball that hit Nico Hoerner as he tried to run for second base, getting him out. It ended up not mattering too much, though, as 5-1 would be the final score.

The bullpen allowed only one hit all game, and it was Ryan Tepera in the 7th inning. He did, however, throw three strikeouts in an otherwise dominant performance. Andrew Chafin allowed no hits and had a strikeout, and Craig Kimbrel shut the Diamondbacks down with a flyout and two strikeouts to finish out the game.

July 17, 2021
Cubs 4, Diamondbacks 2
WP: Brothers (3-2) LP: Soria (1-4)
Box Score

The first half of this game made it seem like the Cubs were slipping back into their pre-All Star Break ways, but they ended up returning to true form in the late innings of the game. It was Adbert Alzolay starting on the mound, and in the 2nd inning he had given up two singles and a groundout that scored a Diamondback. He walked a batter after this, putting himself in a tough situation with runners on 2nd and 3rd, but he was able to get out of the jam thanks to a groundout and help from Hoerner and Rizzo behind him making the play.

The Diamondbacks scored again in the 5th, once again off two singles. A double play took a little bit of the pressure off, but with a runner on third base, Josh Rojas was able to score him to make it 2-0 Diamondbacks. This would be Alzolay’s final inning, as he allowed five hits, two walks and two strikeouts in his time out.

The bullpen once again played solidly, allowing no more Diamondbacks runs to give the offense time to sputter to life. Willson Contreras, after telling the media that others on the team don’t work as hard as he and Baez work just a week ago, proved it for the rest of this game; Contreras himself was directly responsible for three of the Cubs’ four runs, and Baez helped with the first one. After Contreras singled and Rizzo walked, Baez doubled to score Contreras. One play later, Rizzo was tagged out at home and Wisdom lined out, the score still being 2-1 Diamondbacks. In the 9th, however, Rafael Ortega was able to double, and Robinson Chirinos singled in a pinch-hit situation to score Ortega and tie the game. Immediately after, Contreras came in and hit a home run, scoring two runners and giving the Cubs the 4-2 lead. In the bottom of the 9th, Craig Kimbrel once again shows off his closer abilities to any other teams in the market who may be watching, shutting down the D-backs and throwing two strikeouts in the Cubs win.

July 18, 2021
Cubs 4, Diamondbacks 6
WP: Kelly (6-7) LP: Winkler (1-2)
Box Score

The Cubs were once again late to the party when it came to generating offense, and this time it really came back to bite them, as Arizona had a late-inning rally of their own that proved too much to overcome. Zach Davies was on the mound, where he gave up 6 hits, 4 walks and 2 runs in just 4.2 innings, if that shocks any of you. In the 4th inning, Davies loaded up the bases so that a single scored a D-backs run, and then in the 5th a double and a single scored yet another run for the opponents. When he gave up another single shortly after that, he was pulled for Kyle Ryan, who loaded the bases with another walk. Luckily, a groundout play ended the inning.

The Cubs came back to tie things up in the 6th inning. Robinson Chirinos hit a ground-rule double, Bryant doubled to score Chirinos, and Baez singled to score Bryant. Wisdom striking out ended the inning and the two-out rally, and the Diamondbacks wasted no time at the bottom of the next inning preying on Dan Winkler, who walked the first batter, hit the second batter, popped someone out, and then threw a wild pitch to put runners on 2nd and 3rd. Winkler intentionally walked Pavin Smith to load the bases with only one out, a galaxy-brained decision at best. A groundout happened for the next batter, but not before a run was scored to give the D-backs the lead they’d never get back.

Rex Brothers replaced Dan Winkler after that at-bat and the fun didn’t stop there. After a wild pitch to score yet another runner, Brothers decided to intentionally walk Daulton Varsho, who immediately stole second base. Luckily it was the pitcher, Merrill Kelly, who grounded out next to end the inning.

It wasn’t over. The next inning, Brothers walked his first batter and then a home run two batters later gave the Diamondbacks a 6-2 lead. By the 9th inning, the Cubs started things off with a double and a single that led Kelly, the starting pitcher, to finally leave the game after allowing six hits, four runs and six strikeouts in his 8 innings pitched. Baez was able to steal two bases thanks to the Diamondbacks — the DIAMONDBACKS — feeling defensive indifference toward our team in this 9th-inning, two-out situation. Ortega hit a line drive after that to score Baez, but the Diamondbacks got the final strikeout to end an absolutely embarrassing game, all things considered.

The Cubs came out of the All-Star Break winning a pair of games, which is good for their confidence, theoretically. However, it IS the Diamondbacks, who are 27-68 on the year. And today’s loss was pretty embarrassing. Our team is pretty bad, folks.

Next comes a four-game series against the Cardinals at St. Louis, who are now exactly tied with the Cubs at just a tick under .500. Both teams are 9 games back of the 1st-place Brewers and 7 games back of the 2nd-place Reds. Though the playoffs aren’t realistic for either of these teams anymore, it’s always good to not get embarrassed by the Cardinals, so let’s try and get the job done, alright? Go Cubs go!

Everything Else

Yes, the Padres are even more injured than the Cubs are. And they were without Fernando Tatis Jr. in the lineup today. But don’t allow those factors to demolish the good times that were had this week at Wrigley as the Cubs were able to sweep their series against the 1st-place Padres.

Things were looking just fine for the Cubs after the first game, stomping the Padres with half an infield of “who?”s, but that’s just who the Cubs have been for most of the season. Then Anthony Rizzo came back for games two and three, collecting himself five hits and two RBIs on his time out. His .832 OPS at the end of game three was second on the team only to Patrick Wisdom, who has a ridiculous 1.458 OPS after hitting three home runs this series. Who the hell is this guy? More please?

Fielding errors and home runs galore made this series an exciting one to the very end as a Cubs fan, and it came without having to watch Yu Darvish pitch against us so we don’t have to feel that pain. (I’m sure we’ll see him next week, however.) Let’s break this series down before going on to the next.

May 31, 2021
Cubs 7, Padres 2
WP: Stewart (1-0) LP: Paddack (2-4)
Box Score

This was supposed to be Trevor Williams’s start, until he had to get an appendectomy and got put on the 10-day IL because that’s how this season has been going for the Cubs so far. Instead, they put Kohl Stewart to the fire, who has only 17 big-league outings to his name, with the last one being in 2019.

However, Stewart and the Cubs held things together against the Padres. Stewart pitched five innings and allowed only three hits and one run. He walked only one batter and struck out 2 keep his ERA at 0.0. He also had a nasty play to walk off the fourth inning, as the ball was hit right to his glove, which he caught on a bounce with his back turned to the batter and making the throw to Kris Bryant at first base. The other bullpen guys, Andrew Chafin and Tommy Nance, closed down the game completely for the Padres, allowing no hits and striking out three batters between them.

The bullpen was able to keep the Padres’ scoring down, as well. Keegan Thompson continues to impress despite his outing being the statically worst of the bullpen this outing. He allowed three hits and one run but also struck out three batters in 2.1 innings. He allowed Tatis Jr. to homer off of him, but that is forgivable considering how out of this world he plays.

This game was a homer-dependent game, as the Cubs homered five times which allowed them to score all 7 of their runs. Javier Baez homered twice, RBI-ing Kris Bryant in the 3rd inning as well. Patrick Wisdom also looked great offensively, as he hit his 2nd and 3rd homers of the year today while being a competent third baseman during this time of injury. Kris Bryant also had a homer, but considering the MVP numbers he is continually putting up it’s not much of a surprise to anybody.

June 1, 2021
Cubs 4, Padres 3
WP: Hendricks (6-4) LP: Weathers (2-2)
Box Score

This game was the only real nail-biter of the series, as Hendricks was able to make it one full rotation before the Padres were able to really start hitting off of him. Wisdom homered in the 2nd inning, scoring Baez, to put the Cubs up in a relatively comfortable 2-0 lead early. Then, on his second round through the rotation, Hendricks started to slide a little, allowing a solo homer from Victor Caratini (making Cubs fans to bitterly remember what a competent backup catcher looks like since at the moment our backup catcher is on the 60-day IL), a single to pitcher Ryan Weathers, and then another two-run homer to put the Dodgers ahead, all in a two-out situation. Manny Machado singled, but after that Hendricks was able to finally get the strikeout he needed to get out of the inning.

Luckily for us, the Cubs answered immediately to this one. Sergio Alcantara, bright-eyed and playing his 13th career MLB game, got on base with a leadoff single. Despite Kyle Hendricks’s best efforts on a bunting attempt, Alcantara was called out at 2nd, meaning Willson Contreras was the leading run when he stepped up to the plate. He crushed the ball to center field for a two-run homer, of course.

Are you bored yet of me telling you the bullpen was fantastic with no issues? There were no hits allowed for any of the three bullpen pitchers, and together they recorded four strikeouts. Three of them came from Craig Kimbrel, who struck out three Padres in a row to end the game. Thanks Kimbrel. Don’t ship him off to another team please.

June 2, 2021
Cubs 6, Padres 1
WP: Alozlay (4-4) LP: Johnson (1-2)
Box Score

The Cubs were able to sweep this series in a quite miraculous way, immediately answering back when the Padres took the lead in the 4th inning thanks to a throwing error on the Padres’ part to score Anthony Rizzo and get Rafael Ortega to reach first base. One inning later and Rizzo made his presence known, doubling on a huge, huge hit that scored two runs and put the Cubs up in a much more comfortable 3-1 lead. Rizzo is back and you missed him, but whatever you do, Ricketts family, don’t resign him.

We all thought that 3-1 lead was going to come the inning before in the 4th, after two Padres fielders pulled a Nico Hoerner/Ian Happ-à-la-1-month-ago, colliding trying to catch a fly ball and ending the inning on a double play before both collapsed on the field in pain and were taken out of the ballgame. Probably the worst part of this game to watch by far.

Back to the show: there was still so much to like. Ian Happ’s infield single scored another Cub to make it 4-1, and Javier Baez shortly thereafter hit an absolute bomb to make it 6-1. The people at Wrigley were going absolutely nuts, and that was before a fan hopped onto the field with a Jesus sign, got tackled by security, and Pat Hughes announced that he’d be “going to jail for the night,” though he didn’t seem sure of his prediction by any means.

Adbert Alzolay got the win, allowing the Padres’ only run and three hits, striking out seven batters. And the bullpen was once again absolute nails: they allowed two hits between the four of them, Nance got himself in and out of a pretty sketchy jam in the 7th inning, allowing 0 of 2 Padres in scoring position to score that day. It was exactly the game the Cubs needed to end on before the west coast trip.

Finally, shoutout to Boog Sciambi for singing what was legitimately the worst version of the 7th-inning stretch me or my dad have ever heard.

It’s road trip time, as the Cubs will be spending some time in California to play the Giants, who were on a four-game win streak before they got walloped by the Angels yesterday to the tune of 8-1, and that was without Mike Trout or Shohei Ohtani in the lineup, so yikes.

Despite this, and thanks to the Padres’ collapse this series, the Giants now find it is them at the top of the NL West standings with a 34-21 record. Some wins against the Giants, who are slightly less injured than the Padres right now, are quite necessary. Like Soundgarden (good all the way to the end), the Cubs will have to just keep on rowing through these games, come hell or high water, picking up as many wins as they can in order to stave off the selloff. They’re trying their damndest to do so, and it’s making great baseball. Go Cubs go!