Baseball

In a series of come-from-behind wins and no thanks to any of the starters, the Cubs swept the Pirates in a bunch of very close games over the weekend to extend their meaningless win streak against more minor-league-caliber teams to six.

Obviously, this is not something to get overly excited about. If you’re keeping the Pirates in these games as much as the Cubs were, your team has some real issues, and it’s still unclear if the solutions for those issues are still in-house. Personally, I’m not convinced the starting pitching is yet, but what do I know? I’m just a blogger.

At least Frank Schwindel is here to save us.

Let’s break these games down.

September 2, 2021
Cubs 6, Pirates 5 (F/11)
WP: Heuer (6-2) LP: Howard (2-3)
Box Score

Keegan Thompson was given yet another start, and pretty quickly gave up a three-run homer for the Pirates in merely the 1st inning. The Cubs were able to get two runners on in the bottom of the inning, mirroring the Pirates, except two strikeouts for the Cubs ended things with no runners scoring.

Luckily for us, the Pirates ended up choking in the 7th inning, with Robinson Chirinos and Sergio Alcantara getting a respective single and double. Then Rafael Ortega hit a three-run homer to tie the game. Then not long after that Ian Happ hit a two-run homer to take the lead. (Now it’s time for you to realize that Ian Happ is still 5th on this team for batting average, third in OPS, and third in slugging on this team despite only getting hot for like a month. And he is still training Willson Contreras in all of those stats, who just came back from injury. It’s really something.)

A pinch-hit single to right field in the top of the 9th ended up tying the game for the Pirates, which means we were forced to watch even more of this than we bargained for. It took almost two more innings before the Pirates completely blundered the game in the most hilarious possible way, as Ian Happ hit an infield pop fly and Pirates’ second baseman Wilmer Difo dropped the ball to score the winning run on second base.

Thompson didn’t have a good outing by any stretch of the imagination, getting pulled in the 2nd inning by Ross after throwing only 54 pitches and allowing four hits and three runs, one of which a homer. Adrian Sampson, Scott F-Ross, and Adam Morgan all had good outings, allowing no hits combined for 6.1 innings and eight (!!!!????) strikeouts.

Rowan Wick, surprisingly to nobody, blew the save with the three hits and two runs in the 9th inning. Let’s not use him as closer again, shall we? He was soon replaced by our new regular closers, Manuel Rodriguez and Codi Heuer, who were able to help the Cubs close out the game with a W.

September 3, 2021
Cubs 6, Pirates 5
WP: Megill (1-0) LP: Miller (0-1)
Box Score

Things got a little wild this game with ump calls, rulebook headscratchers, and the like. Not to mention the Cubs defense was not good. However, they were able to pull out their fourth straight W, albeit against dumpster fire teams.

It was also unclear whether who was actually in charge of the ball club halfway through the game since Ross tested positive for COVID-19 before the game and Andy Green got ejected for absolutely handing it to the umpires in a socially-distanced manner. Hats were thrown to the ground and everything. The clown show here never ceases.

Things started out okay, as the Cubs got five runs on the Pirates in three innings—and none of those were homers, surprisingly. Singles and walks galore were given out by Pirates starter Steven Brault, who gave up seven hits and five runs in his four innings pitched.  By the end of this game, the only batter who didn’t get a hit was Jason Heyward. No surprise there, am I right?

Despite the five-run lead, the Cubs predictably blew it, specifically by allowing two Anthony Alford home runs in two innings. Alford’s career slash line is .168/.225/.309, by the way. So that’s pretty bad. Wisdom had a good catch in the 5th inning to stop a hit, but other than that the defense was atrocious. He also errored in the next inning, and Andy Green got ejected after we all watched one of the worst throws from Sergio Alcantara I’ve ever seen. Green argued interference, was ejected, and then promptly blew a gasket on the field in the most hilarious way possible, because once again, nothing matters.

After Alford’s second homer that knocked in three runs to tie the game, it was thanks to Frank Schwindel’s solo dinger in the bottom of the inning that the Cubs were able to get out of this one with a win. Perhaps we didn’t deserve this one.

September 4, 2021
Cubs 7, Pirates 6
WP: Effross (1-0) LP: Stratton (5-1)
Box Score

The Cubs didn’t exactly deserve this win either, but when the Pirates closer just about hands it to you in the 9th inning you don’t refuse it.

The Cubs started out in the hole after Kyle Hendricks gave up a solo homer in the 1st. Hendricks only gave up three other hits until the 5th inning, where things went completely off the rails. A walk, a single, two walks in a row, and a hit by pitch ended Hendricks’s day as he let the Pirates tie things up there.

Ian Happ had a nice double in the 4th inning that barely stayed fair, and it became one of many hits and on-bases in the 4th inning as the Pirates proved themselves to be defensive disasters. By the end of the 4th, Happ, Contreras and Wisdom scored to make it 3-1 Cubs before Hendricks allowed the game to get tied up.

Outfield catching was the name of the game today. Rafael Ortega was able to save another Pirates run or two in the 2nd by making a crazy diving catch in the outfield to end the inning with no additional scoring. Happ later decided that defense was his specialty by catching an otherwise foul ball in the 5th inning, but unfortunately the pitching performance for the Cubs in that same inning made it all for naught.

Down 6-3 by the bottom of the 5th inning, Schwindel hit a solo homer to make the deficit just a bit smaller. No more offense was seen until the Pirates utterly choked in the bottom of the 9th inning, giving the Cubs the walk-off win thanks to hits by Matt Duffy, Alfonso Rivas, Ortega and Schwindel again getting the winning hit after the Pirates’ first baseman whiffed on the tag.

September 5, 2021
Cubs 11, Pirates 8
WP: Alzolay (5-13) LP: Howard (2-4)
Box Score

Once again, the Cubs went down early in the 1st inning thanks to a Pirates solo homer. It became the first in a series of back-and-forth half-innings where the teams were trading leads with each other. Matt Duffy and Jason Heyward, two extremely unlikely duos, hit solo homers in the 2nd to take things back, but the Pirates ended up scoring four runs on Zach Davies in the 3rd to put them back on top. He still sucks.

The Cubs came back after this inning and ended up scoring 5, with Schwindel and Happ getting hits, Ortega and Wisdom with walks, and Matt Duffy with a three-run homer. The 4th was a scoreless inning, but the Pirates ended up tying things up with a litany of hits in the top of the 5th after Davies was yanked for Rex Brothers. Brothers gave up three walks and a sac fly, which was infuriating to watch. Then Manuel Rodriguez threw a wild pitch after replacing Brothers so the Pirates could tie the game, though putting him in that bases-loaded situation certainly wasn’t a recipe of success for him in this outing. We’ll let it slide.

The Pirates scored another run in the 6th to give them the lead, but it was Schwindel who continues to crush every ball that comes his way, this time with a grand slam in the 7th inning to give the Cubs the lead for good. He scored Robinson Chirinos and Ortega, who walked, and Rivas, who singled, to win this one.

Adbert Alzolay collected the win as he once again came out of the pen for 1.2 innings and threw pretty good ball. I am now firmly in the camp that Alzolay maybe just doesn’t have that starter ability, and he should be kept in the pen where he is serviceable and (the Ricketts will hate this one) you’ll definitely have to spend some big bucks on some actual starters if you REALLY want to accelerate the rebuild for next year. But that’s just me.

Starting shortly, the Cubs will probably get shellacked in a series against the Cincinnati Reds, who are currently half a game back of the Padres for the final wild card spot and dammit, Cubs, just win to make things a little more difficult for the Reds, okay? The Padres are also playing a relatively bad team in the Angels, but everyone is fully aware that Shohei Ohtani can simply  will that team to a win whenever he wants to turn on his god-tier playing status. Hopefully it will be something worth watching, as the Cubs work to be playoff spoilers. Go Cubs go!

Baseball

In what was supposed to be a battle of bad pitching for this two-game series against the similarly terrible Minnesota Twins, the Cubs ended up winning both games with our own pitching holding things down. Not to mention it was a Joe West Production this series as we all sat and prayed that soon the season will be over and we’ll all be put out of our misery.

Despite there being a lack of offense for a majority of the series, the Cubs defense got out of jams when they needed to and held the Twins to only one run over the two games. Because there were no runs scored in 14 of the 18 innings I watched, there wasn’t a ton to review here, so let’s wrap this up quickly.

August 31, 2021
Cubs 3, Twins 1
WP: Rodriguez (3-2) LP: Gant (4-9)
Box Score

Allowing Frank Schwindel to homer off of you in the first pitch of the game is truly something else. A genuinely ridiculous way to start the game. But since nothing matters to either of these teams anymore, you can’t help but laugh at it all.

Zach Davies did…fine, I guess? He pitched 4.1 innings and allowed six hits, but only one run, the only run of the game. He also had three strikeouts on the day to put his ERA down to 4.91, which is still incredibly bad.

The middle of the game was incredibly boring thanks to the lack of offense. The Cubs’ fielders were able to help Davies hold the Twins to one run, which included a pretty nice sweeping catch by Patrick Wisdom at third base in the 4th inning. There was also a bases loaded situation in the 7th inning that Matt Duffy struck out to get the Twins out of the jam in true Matt Duffy fashion.

The bullpen actually did a pretty swell job. It was only Codi Heuer who allowed hits—three of them, actually, which loaded the bases in the 8th for the Twins (see below). Manuel Rodriguez got the win, continuing to impress. He, Adam Morgan and Rowan Wick allowed no hits in their combined 3.2 innings pitched.

Ian Happ continues to stay hot in the part of the season where nothing matters as he hit a solo homer in the 8th inning that was one of his longest ever. A half-inning later, it was the Twins’ turn to be in a bases loaded situation and Matt Duffy specifically decided he was going to make up for his blunderous at-bat earlier by catching a ball hit into right field and then throwing to home to tag a Twin at the plate to end the inning and the jam. Pretty impressive stuff, even if it is just the Twins.

September 1, 2021
Cubs 3, Twins 0
WP: Steele (3-2) LP: Ryan (0-1)
Box Score

The fun continued into yesterday as the Twins put on an even worse performance than the day before. It unfortunately came with Twins pitcher Joe Ryan making his major league debut. Despite striking out Ian Happ to start things off, he allowed an Alfonso Rivas walk (only his third game with the Cubs), an Andrew Romine double, and yet another Schwindel home run to make the score 3-0 Cubs. That’s it. That was the offense for the entire game.

Justin Steele started this game and got the win. He only allowed one hit and had three strikeouts in his 5 innings pitched. He also gave up three walks, something he should likely work on. Adbert Alzolay took over pitching for the rest of the game in his first relief appearance in about a year. He made things look easy with five strikeouts and one hit in forty total pitches thrown. Pretty good stuff, I guess.

The Cubs continue their garbage team tour with a series against the Pirates starting tonight. The Pirates continue to break barriers regarding how bad a major league team can be, despite the Orioles recently giving them a run for their money. They only have a .361 winning percentage and the White Sox pummeled them earlier this week despite coming off splitting a series with the Cardinals before that. Who knows what fun will be had this week and into the weekend. See you then to wrap things up. Go Cubs go!

Baseball

Well, that went just about as expected, with the newly-rebuilding Cubs being unable to get a win against the contending Sox. The first game was at least a close call, outside of dragging on far too long. The other two games, however, were pretty horrific to watch, as the Sox pretty much decided both games in the first couple of innings of each. The Cubs also gave up four homers that scored six runners in last night’s game, and two more solo homers in Saturday’s game. If anything, it shows that the Cubs have quite a long way to go to become the contending team they once were.

August 6, 2021
Cubs 6, Sox 8
WP: Hendriks (6-2) LP: Rodriguez (0-2)
Box Score

Kyle Hendricks started this game because any other Cubs pitcher would have made an absolute fool out of themselves (see below). With Hendricks, the Cubs at least stood a chance in the season opener.

Greg Deichmann made his major league debut with the club in right field, the first prospect the Cubs received for developed players this deadline to debut. I guess he was a home run guy in the minors; he replaces Jason Heyward in right field, who is now on the IL with an index finger issue. He had one hit in the 4th inning and that was about it, but we’ll see how he develops over the coming weeks.

It was a pitchers’ duel up until the 4th inning, where Hendricks gave up two hits with no outs, as Adam Engel stole third base. He ended up scoring and the Cubs soon put themselves in a bases-loaded situation as the Sox easily started finding holes in our defense to hit balls through.

Lance Lynn gave up a pair of walks in the 5th, getting frustrated on some admittedly sketchy ump calls. With Matt Duffy up to bat and two outs, he ended up striking out to keep the Cubs off the board.

Eloy Jiminez then led off the 6th with a double. Deichmann was able to catch a fly ball in right, but the sacrifice put Jiminez on third base. Despite giving up another walk after that, it was a pretty impressive tag out by Robinson Chirinos to keep the game 2-2. Cesar Hernandez was intentionally walked to keep the bases load, but Hendricks came in clutch when it mattered, getting a strikeout to end the inning.

Once Hendricks came out of the game, things once again started out shaky with Jake Jewell on the mound in the 7th, as a hard-hit ball to left field gave Engel a double. He made it out of the inning unscathed, however, with a groundout and a strikeout.

The Cubs then put two more runners on board in the 7th when Michael Kopech gave up a walk and a sac fly. David Bote sac flied again for Andrew Romine to make it 2-1 Sox. Trevor Megill in the 8th gave up a tough single that Frank Schwindel on first base couldn’t make the diving play on, and soon Cesar Hernandez hit a two-run homer, which seemingly all but closed out this game for the Sox.

Until Craig Kimbrel, of course. He wasn’t even the closer because the Sox have arguably the two best closers in the game, and we all know what his stuff looks like — maybe too much, to Kimbrel’s detriment, as Duffy and Schwindel got base hits off of him, and then Romine hit a two-run homer to tie it! Very unfortunate to see statistically the worst outing Kimbrel has had in like ten years, but hey, our allegiances are elsewhere now. To add more salt in the wound, Chirinos singled right after this to get him pulled after getting only two outs.

The thing about the Sox is that their replacement, Liam Hendriks, is the other best closer in the league, and got the third out quickly. So the Cubs retaliated with ex-Sox reliever Codi Heuer to pitch the 9th inning, and he had some pretty good stuff – the Cubs completed a double play to keep it tied at the bottom of the 9th thanks in part to Willson Contreras, who had an off-day today but eventually suited up as catcher near the end of the game.

Matt Duffy put the winning run on first, then second with a steal, in the 9th inning with two outs, in which Ian Happ promptly and predictably struck out as he is wont to do, forcing the Cubs into extra innings.

Manny Rodriguez allowed a two-run homer in the 10th for the Sox, and by that time it had all unraveled for the Cubs and the fun was over. One more runner scored to end Manny’s day. In his place came Michael Rucker, with a sparkling 12 ERA in 2 games played, which he was able to knock back down to 9.64 despite allowing another run scored. And despite another two-run homer by Schwindel in the bottom of the 10th, the game finally ended after 3.5 hours.

August 7, 2021
White Sox 4, Cubs 0
WP: Rodon (9-5) LP: Alzolay (4-12)
Box Score

August 8, 2021
White Sox 9, Cubs 3
WP: Cease (9-6) LP: Davies (6-9)
Box Score

The other two games were nothing short of a disaster for the Cubs, to the point where they don’t even deserve individual game wraps because who wants to relive that dreck? They got outscored 13-3, including 9-2 in the first two innings of those games. Most notably, Zach Davies, who sucks in case you didn’t know, gave up seven runs in the first two innings of last night’s game to give the Cubs no chance in the game at all. Had he not given up seven runs it wouldn’t have been a blowout, especially considering our bullpen wasn’t horrific even though they had to start eating innings starting in the 3rd.

Adbert Alzolay, at least, was okay; despite giving up six hits and two runs in his 6.2 innings pitched on Saturday, he also struck out seven batters. The Sox are 16th in the league when it comes to strikeouts, so being able to strike out seven guys against a really good team is a step in the right direction on his part. Had the Cubs made any attempt at trying on offense, it would’ve been a quality start for Alzolay, people — he is likely the future of our pitching rotation.

David Bote had two hits in Saturday’s 4-0 loss, accounting for exactly 40% of the offense for the Cubs that day. Rafael Ortega was the only multi-hit Cub for last night’s game, despite scoring no runs. Instead, it was pinch-hitter Frank Schwindel last night who batted in two of the three Cubs runs to score Patrick Wisdom and Sergio Alcantara. Schwindel, at least, is growing on me. He will likely be the regular starting first baseman going forward. More please, why not?

Jake Jewell continues to develop as well. After getting out of the jam in Friday’s game, he pitched two innings yesterday and was the only pitcher who didn’t allow a hit; he gave up only one walk and had two strikeouts. He is definitely a reliever to watch over the coming weeks as the season begins its downhill stretch.

I’ll be out of state for the next week or so, while the Cubs likely get decimated during a four-game series against the first-place Brewers this week. They then have a three-game weekend series against another bottomfeeding team, the Miami Marlins, after that to recuperate. Enjoy the baseball, and I’ll be back at it with more wraps again soon. 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!

Baseball

I guess a split is better than a series loss, even if the series is only two games. The Cubs certainly were hard to watch last night, with Javier Baez being the main storyline as he was benched for making the wrong offensive play. However, Kyle Hendricks and a late-to-the-party-but-at-least-existent Cubs offense were able to help them rise above Cleveland tonight, despite a sticky situation in a late inning with the bullpen.

Despite the recent streak of doing more losing than winning, the Cubs still find themselves tied with the Brewers for first in the horrific Central Division with a 40-33 record. The team is still too home run dependent, but it seems as though whenever they need a jolt to the offense all Rossy has to do is pinch hit a couple players who immediately make good contact with the ball. How long can he keep doing that before the trick doesn’t work anymore? Not forever, that’s for sure, but for now I’ll take all the help we can get.

June 21, 2021
Cubs 0, Cleveland 4
WP: Shaw (2-2) LP: Alzolay (4-6)
Box Score

The pitching did all they could for this one, and yet the Cubs couldn’t produce enough hits to get the job done.

Adbert Alzolay is finally back, being activated off the IR and starting this game. He went 4.2 innings tonight and he allowed three runs, all of them coming thanks to home runs. Alzolay was able to hold the Cubs in it for a solid four innings, only allowing the solo homer in the 2nd inning during that time. The offense was able to put players in scoring position in the 2nd, 5th, 7th and 9th innings — Willson Contreras in particular had two doubles and walked during his third at-bat — but nobody was able to convert.

After forgetting how many outs there were in the bottom of the 4th inning, Baez got doubled up in a play that ended the inning, jogging to third, which allowed a throw at 1st to get him out. Embarrassing for everyone involved and everyone watching, to say the least. Rossy immediately benched him in favor of Sergio Alcantara, who, like Baez, had no hits this game either.

After Alzolay gave up a two-run homer in the 5th, Keegan Thompson and the bullpen after him took over, allowing just two hits and one run in the process. Tommy Nance was the “worst” of the bunch, throwing a couple of wild pitches that ended up advancing and scoring a runner to make it 4-0. By this time the Cubs had seemed to give up, and another beer snake that had been forming in the outfield was eviscerated by a fan. The cups rained down onto the field, a good metaphor for how this game had gone on the Cubbies’ end.

June 22, 2021
Cubs 7, Cleveland 1
WP: Hendricks (10-4) LP: Morgan (0-2)
Box Score

Although Kris Bryant was able to get the Cubs ahead early in the game with a solo homer, it wasn’t until the 6th when Rafael Ortega pinch hit for Hendricks that the Cubs started to generate some real offense. Alcantara, who doubled before Ortega, got to third and was batted in by Joc Pederson as the next batter up in order to put the Cubs ahead 3-0. Bryant walked after that and then Baez’s ground rule double and Contreras’ single made it 5-0 Cubs.

The Cubs were able to wait so long in the game before producing offensively because Kyle Hendricks was able to add yet another game to his growing pile of quality starts for the Cubs, allowing only four hits and no runs in 6.0 innings. He had a habit of allowing hits off of the first batters he saw each inning but limited contact for Cleveland, able to get the three outs after allowing a hit to keep his shutout game.

Of course, the Cubs can’t have every part of their team working their best at the same time. It was time for the bullpen to have an off day, and when I say the bullpen I mean Ryan Tepera, who had an ugly outing, putting himself in a bases-loaded situation with no outs. He gave up a hit to score one Cleveland player and then a rocket to right field missed being a game-changing home run by mere feet. However, he was able to strike that batter out and get out of the inning with a pop fly caught by Jake Marisnick, and during the next half-inning solo homers by Contreras and Patrick Wisdom cemented the Cubs win. (The other relief pitchers, Andrew Chafin and Dan Winkler, allowed no hits in their two innings pitched.)

The Cubs have an off day tomorrow before it’s time to take on the LA Dodgers this weekend in California. The last time we saw the Dodgers was when we swept them during a slew of 7-inning games in early May, marking the beginning of the Cubs’ hottest win streak of the season so far. Since that series, the Dodgers have gone 27-13, healed up their injuries for the most part, and went on an eight-game winning streak.

This series will not be an easy one by any means, especially comparing their rotation to ours. Since Hendricks and Alzolay just played the last few days, it’s going to be a real sketchy weekend when it comes to our starters. Do you trust Zach Davies? I don’t. Jake Arrieta has gone only three innings for two starts in a row, allowing ten hits total. Is Alec Mills 100% healthy? Trevor Williams has resumed throwing, but he’s not known for his quality starts of any kind. Say a prayer for this weekend’s series and hope something good comes our way. Go Cubs go!

Baseball

It probably helped that Fernando Tatis Jr. went 1-for-12 at the plate for the span of this series, but the Cubs were able end this first of two west coast road trips on a higher note than how they started. After getting the doors blown off of them in the first game thanks to not being able to outhit their pitching woes, the Cubs were able to beat on the Padres this week, holding them to only one run in the final two games of the series.

More importantly and amazingly, they were doing this without some of their best players—most notably absent this series was Javier Baez, who was on a roll offensively in the last Padres series. Jason Heyward has had no hits since returning, and the Cubs are still without Nico Hoerner, as well as David Bote, if that still matters to any of you. And the injuries keep on coming, as it was announced Adbert Alzolay would be added to the 10-day IL after an ugly start to this series.

Despite these obstacles, the Cubs came through offensively and were able to hold it together defensively to get the job done, even getting the win over Yu Darvish, who for all intents and purposes should still be pitching on this team. As we like to say here, the indignities never cease. Let’s break these games down.

June 7, 2021
Cubs 4, Padres 9
WP: Weathers (3-2) LP: Alzolay (4-5)
Box Score

Considering the Giants series we just came from, who could’ve guessed the Cubs’ starting pitcher would collapse in a game again? Alzolay allowed the Padres to get up early in this one, allowing two Padres runs in the first two innings of the game and having to throw over 50 pitches to get to the 3rd. By the 3rd inning, he had struck out Fernando Tatis Jr. for the second time of the night, along with Eric Hosmer, but a walk and a home run right afterward put the Cubs in a pretty dicey 4-0 hole.

After only two singles in the first three innings, the Cubs’ bats woke up just in time for a rally to make the game a one-run contest. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo singled, and Patrick Wisdom walked to load the bases. Jake Marisnick, back in the lineup playing his first game in almost a month, hit a single that scored Bryant and Rizzo to make it 4-2. Ian Happ decided to come up and bunt for some reason, getting out at first but advancing the runners. Sergio Alcantara, the knockoff Baez replacement whenever he is needed, was able to RBI Wisdom on a sac fly, and then it was 4-3 Cubs.

Alzolay then proceeded to put up a four-pitch walk to start the 4th inning and Rossy yanked him. Alzolay was not happy with his performance, throwing his glove in the dugout and looking pretty pissed. Soon after the game it was announced he’d be put on the 10-day IL for a blistered finger. It was a tough outing for the young pitcher who is currently the only bright spot in the Cubs’ rotation that exists at all, but he’s gotta be better than tonight if the Cubs have a chance at the division or the playoffs.

The Dodgers scored two runs in the 6th and piled on three more in the 8th inning, allowing them to run away with the game. Rex Brothers, in to relieve for Alzolay, allowed no hits in his inning out, but Keegan Thompson allowed a hit that scored the runs in the 6th inning and Cory Abbott’s 1.1 innings at the end of the game allowed four hits and three runs, only one of them earned. The Cubs scored a measly run in the 7th inning thanks to a solo homer by Ian Happ, but other than that the Padres were able to successfully come out on top this game.

June 8, 2021
Cubs 7, Padres 1
WP: Davies (3-3) LP: Lamet (1-1)
Box Score

For once during his tenure with the Cubs, Zach Davies didn’t look half bad on the mound as he faced his team of yore. Despite this, the Padres’ starter in Dinelson Lamet was pitching well also, and we went the first three innings with no score. However, Lamet collapsed to start the 6th inning, giving up two singles and a double to score Joc Pederson and Kris Bryant, added onto the solo homer he gave up to Willson Contreras in the 4th. His reliever could only get the first out of the inning before allowing Patrick Wisdom’s 8TH DINGER IN 15 GAMES to blow the game wide open, 5-0 Cubs.

Certainly Zach Davies is no Yu Darvish, and I don’t think anyone else complains about that more than I do. However, Davies pitched a full 6 innings, allowed only one hit, walked only two batters and had 4 strikeouts. It was the lowest number of hits he’s allowed in a game all season, and by many numbers it was the best game he’s played generally since his season debut on April 4. Credit where credit’s due here.

The Cubs were able to score two more runs in the 7th inning to make the game really over, and thanks to our trusty bullpen the Padres never really got back in the game offensively. Andrew Chafin, Tommy Nance, and Alec Mills all pitched one inning each. Chafin had a strikeout and only allowed one hit, while Nance had two strikeouts and no hits at all. Alec Mills, making his first appearance on the mound for the Cubs in nearly a month, allowed the only Padres run of the game after walking two batters and letting Ha-Seong Kim hit a double. However, two strikeouts later he was able to end the game for the Cubs.

June 9, 2021
Cubs 3, Padres 1
WP: Brothers (2-0) LP: Darvish (6-2)
Box Score

The Cubs are finally looking back to their winning form, able to win the series against the Padres despite having to face old demons and current elite pitching by Yu Darvish. It was Jake Arrieta who was up to the task of battling against him, and this game was a pitcher’s duel all the way until essentially the 7th inning, where the Cubs took the lead on an RBI double play by Rizzo. The other two runs were scored by solo homers for the Cubs, with Joc Pederson doing it in the 4th inning and Sergio Alcantara doing it in the 8th inning.

Like I said, it was a pitcher’s duel, and though Yu Darvish played the longer game, he was the one with the loss. Veteran Jake Arrieta only pitched five innings compared to Darvish’s seven, but he allowed only one run to Darvish’s two runs despite Arrieta allowing one more hit. The Cubs bullpen, and I know I sound like a broken record, got it done. Rex Brothers got the win with two strikeouts in his inning in the 6th. Tepera and Kimbrel also allowed no hits, despite Kimbrel having 0 strikeouts to close the game — very uncharacteristic of him.

The Cubs were intentionally sitting some important players this game in order to give them two days off before a big series this weekend against the Cardinals. In doing so, some younger players in the pipeline were able to show their skills, and Alcantara was certainly one of them again today with his important run and keeping things together at shortstop as Javier Baez took this series off. Additionally, we saw PJ Higgins catching for Willson Contreras and Rafael Ortega in for a stint. Props to these guys for sliding in and not being horrific — hell, even contributing at times.

Like I said, the Cubs have a day off tomorrow and then they come back to Wrigley where they will face off against the Cardinals for the first series at 100% fan capacity. The Cardinals have dropped a bit in the standings since we last played them, being 3.5 wins back of the Cubs and first place. Don’t look now, but the Cubs and the Brewers are neck and neck at the top of the Central Division, so any wins we can get against the Cardinals will be important, especially since the Brewers get the much easier matchup this weekend against the Pirates. Go Cubs go!

Baseball

History is deemed to repeat itself, as once again the Cubs take two out of three this series and another important position player goes down with an injury. The club’s six-game winning streak ended today as the Cubs weren’t as consistent with their bats as they had been in the last few series.

We are also staring at an uphill battle with matchups against actually good teams as opposed to the bottom-of-the-barrel NL Central sludge we’ve been seeing as of late. The season will only get more exciting from here.

May 28, 2021
Cubs 1, Reds 0
WP: Alzolay (3-4) LP: Gutierrez (0-1)
Box Score

This game is the type of game fans point to when they argue that baseball is dying, that it’s too boring and this is why it’s hard to get more young people to watch. Nevertheless, the Cubs were able to win this one, as David Bote hit a solo homer as the only run of the game in the bottom of the 5th inning to give the Cubs the win.

This game was obviously a pitcher’s duel against Adbert Alzolay and the Reds’ Vladimir Gutierrez, pitching in his MLB debut. Alzolay won out, pitching 5.2 innings to Gutierrez’s 5.0, although it was Gutierrez with less hits (2 vs. 5) and walks (2 vs. 3). However, Alzolay allowed no runs, the most important metric, and also had six strikeouts on the day. There were also times in innings 1 and 2 when Alzolay pitched himself into a bit of a sticky situation with runners in scoring position, but he was able to pitch his way out of both of them. A solid outing overall.

Andrew Chafin continues to show us his capabilities as a reliever are just as solid as his abilities to rebuild cars and boats, as Ohioans are wont to do. He allowed only two runs and had a strikeout in his 1.1 innings out.

Tommy Nance and Craig Kimbrel finished out the game, pitching one inning each and both striking out one batter.

There were only three Cubs hits on the day, coming from Kris Bryant (of course), Javier Baez and David Bote again. The bats were not exactly working out today, but hopefully that is just an anomaly and not a trend.

May 29, 2021
Cubs 10, Reds 2
WP: Thompson (3-1) LP: Castillo (1-8)
Box Score

The Cubs were able to hop on the board early in the 2nd inning thanks to a litany of tough fielding plays by the Reds, where they probably could’ve gotten Contreras out at 3rd base but were unable to. Soon Eric Sogard, king of singles, was able to hit one between short and third base, scoring Contreras, and then a single by none other than Zach Davies ended up scoring David Bote right after, putting the Cubs up 2-0.

Then David Bote got hurt, and he looked like he was hurt pretty badly. A dislocated shoulder was eventually confirmed for him after the game, and he got taken out immediately. Considering Bote was third on the team in RBIs and had been playing pretty well over the past few weeks, including making solid defensive plays wherever he’s slotted, this is certainly not good news.

A pretty nice Reds double in the top of the sixth to the corner of right field in a bases-loaded situation allowed them to tie the game, but it only took to the bottom of that inning for the Cubs to break out offensively, thanks in part to four walks in the inning that allowed Eric Sogard to amble on home. A pitching change didn’t even help the Reds get out of the inning, as two singles were able to score two more Cubs, making it 6-2 by the time Baez characteristically struck out to end the inning.

The Cubs piled it on, scoring four more in the next two innings, including a solo homer by Rafael Ortega, who at this point with all the players getting hurt will likely be a new staple on the field. Baez was able to score Joc Pederson in the 8th on a single, and Ian Happ singled also in the 8th to RBI in both Bryant and Baez. At least the offense got going.

As for pitching, Zach Davies went the usual five innings, allowing two hits, two walks and striking out three batters. The bullpen was really solid, allowing no runs in four innings. We saw Rex Brothers pitch for the first time in ten days. Keegan Thompson was credited with the win, allowing only one hit and getting a strikeout. Finally, Tepera and Wieck got two strikeouts each and Maples ended the game by allowing only one hit.

May 30, 2021
Cubs 1, Reds 5
WP: Mahle (4-2) LP: Arrieta (5-5)
Box Score

The Cubs once again were unable to generate a lot of offense, having four total hits on the whole night: Pederson, Bryant, Contreras, and the presumable-new-third-baseman-for-the-next-ten-days Patrick Wisdom. Additionally, three of those four hits came in the 8th inning, where Bryant’s RBI single drove in the only run despite it being far too late in the game for a comeback.

Jake Arrieta was also pretty horrendous, as he was only able to stay in the game for 3.2 innings and in that stretch gave up all five of the Reds’ runs off of six hits. He walked four batters, allowed one homer, and struck out only three in an ugly, forgettable performance to add to his illustrious career.

The only good Cubs news I have to report here is that the bullpen was once again nails. Brad Wieck, who took over for Arrieta in the 4th inning, was the only bullpen pitcher who allowed a hit. The other three pitchers—Brothers, Maples, and Winkler—allowed no hits and only two walks between them all.

Anthony Rizzo is still day-to-day with a back injury, and before the game we learned that David Bote will in fact be on the 10-day IL. It’s grand, because the next two and a half weeks of the schedule is pretty brutal. The Cubs will be facing the Padres, the Giants, the Padres again, the Cardinals, and the Mets in that span. And in case you’re still fully engrossed in playoff hockey, these teams are all currently sitting at the top or near the top of their respective divisions.

This is the toughest stretch of baseball the Cubs have faced to date and going into this stretch after falling with a thud in today’s game is probably not great. And that’s not even mentioning the plethora of injured position players we are still hoping to get back soon.

These two weeks will be the ultimate test for this team, and their performance here will very likely help to determine whether or not the Cubs sell or stay put at the trade deadline (I still believe a selloff is imminent because after 2016 we cannot have nice things).

The fun starts now. Go Cubs go!

Baseball

The Cubs, a team that is not exactly outstanding while healthy, suck even more when they aren’t healthy. This series they played almost entirely without their two best hitters in Jake Marisnick (on 10-day IL thanks to yet another in a long line of hamstring injuries) and Kris Bryant (who was sick both games). Without them, the Cubs went on to get outhit by the 2nd-worst hitting team in the league, losing both games by just a single run and very impressively going 2-for-24 this series with runners in scoring position. But what else is new?

May 11, 2021
Cubs 2, Cleveland 3
WP: Bieber (4-2) LP: Alzolay (1-3)
Box Score

The Cubs’ injury woes only continued through this game, as Kris Bryant left mid-game and got replaced by Nick Martini after he was feeling “under the weather.” The lineup afterward (and the ensuing batting average of each player) was nothing short of horrific. I’m sure at the beginning of this season you were hoping to only watch Eric Sogard and Matt Duffy in intervals, in small doses, and only rarely on the field together. But for the last few weeks, they’ve been slotting in pretty much every day, at all sorts of positions, as Cubs players keep going down with injury.

And remember when it was DAVID BOTE’S TURN to be the full-time third baseman? It’s actually Matt Duffy’s turn now, everyone. Bote slotted in today as the DH, despite having a .184 batting average and gaining no hits. I guess that’s about the batting average a starting pitcher would have if the DH wasn’t a thing, so in that sense nothing was gained or lost with Bote as DH.

The Cubs of note who did good things this game included Willson Contreras, who singled in the 2nd inning to score Anthony Rizzo. After Cleveland homered in the 4th inning, Sogard made himself useful and hit a solo homer of his own in the 5th to put the Cubs back up. Unfortunately, at the bottom of the inning Cleveland hit a 2-run homer of their own to put the game away for good.

Adbert Alzolay continues to tread water in the pitching department; the team would like Alzolay to survive more than 6 innings during his starts, but he’s had yet to really do that this year. Granted, none of the Cubs starters have been able to do that this year, so we can cut him some slack in that regard.

Alzolay allowed no walks, but he also allowed five hits and the two home runs that won Cleveland the game. The Cubs then pulled him after the 6th inning to introduce Brad Wieck to his 13th inning over three seasons with the Cubs. (The team brought him up to help bolster the bullpen after Marisnick’s injury, opting to go for a short bench for a couple games while hoping Happ and Hoerner will be back this weekend.) Wieck pitched only one inning last season, but that earned him a solid 13.00 ERA on the year. Luckily, Wieck allowed no runs or walks, striking out one batter before handing the mound over to Rex Brothers for what ended up being the final inning for the Cubs, as Matt Duffy grounded into a double play to end the game.

May 12, 2021
Cubs 1, Cleveland 2 (F/10)
WP: Karinchak (1-0) LP: Thompson (1-1)
Box Score

Despite Kris Bryant being out of the starting lineup today, Cubs fans should have no fear; Javier Baez is here! Finally back after being out a few games, Baez characteristically struck out in the 1st inning as his “I’m back” gift to the fans. (Baez had only one hit today, but that was one hit more than six other players on the team.) Additionally, Eric Sogard started the day off strong with a fielding error in which he dropped the ball and allowed two runners to stay on base in a no-out situation. Will it ever end?

Willson Contreras and Joc Pederson could be found dragging the rest of the team’s dead weight offensively all game. Contreras had four hits, while Pederson had three hits and an RBI. The only offense for either team both came in the 6th inning, where Pederson was able to drive in Ildemaro Vargas for the Cubs’ only run. The lead didn’t stay around for long, however, as Zach Davies allowed two doubles to start off the bottom of the inning that scored Cesar Hernandez for Cleveland.

Zach Davies continues to try his best to impress Cubs fans with his pitching, but the fact of the matter is he’s just not Yu Darvish. He allowed five hits, a run and two walks in only 5.1 innings pitched. He also had four strikeouts, which I guess is better than none. After allowing Cleveland to tie the game, however, Justin Steele was brought in to close out the inning, as we got to experience some more of that Homegrown Talent the front office keeps trying to claim we have.

Steele wasn’t an eyesore, getting a strikeout, allowing a walk and getting another strikeout against the top of Cleveland’s batting order. (Once again, with a batting average ranked 29th in the league, that’s not exactly hard to do.) But Rossy didn’t push his luck, going with Ryan Tepera for the 7th inning, who also struck out two.

Andrew Chafin then pitched two innings of good baseball, striking out two batters and letting the defense behind him get the rest. His ERA is now down to 3.00 after this game. Rolling out the Homegrown Pitchers continued as Keegan Thompson was asked to do some extra innings pitching, and unfortunately things didn’t go well for him. After walking the first batter, Rene Rivera was able to sac bunt, putting two players in scoring position. Thompson intentionally walked Andres Giminez, loading up the bases, and in a two-out situation, Amed Rosario singled to walk off the game.

The Cubs get yet another day off, hopefully to heal most of their starting lineup, and then they face the Detroit Tigers in a 3-game series in Detroit. The Tigers aren’t much better offensively than Cleveland, hitting at a .216 team batting average, good for 27th in the league. Their batting has allowed them to fall all the way to the very bottom of the AL Central, with an atrocious 11-24 record, despite being on a 2-game winning streak that saw them beat the Twins and the Royals.

Hopefully the Cubs come out well-rested, healthier, and ready to win a couple of games over the weekend because if you can’t beat the Detroit Tigers I’m not sure who you can beat. Go Cubs go.

Baseball

The Cubs went into this series with a handful of injured players: Nico Hoerner was put on the IL and Ian Happ is also day-to-day after their ugly on-field collision from last series. Additionally, Jake Arrieta has a right thumb abrasion and cannot pitch. Neither can Dan Winkler, who’s been a pretty good reliever all season, only giving up 2 hits in his last 5 appearances. The Cubs decided to bring up Kyle Ryan With Two First Names and Keegan Thompson, who we saw last series, in the meantime for pitching. Additionally, we got to see the first of Ildemaro Vargas in the infield this series as he replaces Hoerner…it’s happening.

However, the Dodgers came and played worse than we did in these games, allowing the Cubs to win the series. It was mostly because of a horrendous bullpen and some cringey fielding errors on the Dodgers’ part, but this series was a jolt of electricity that this struggling Cubs team needed to hopefully not be as trash in the future.

May 4, 2021 Game 1
Cubs 7, Dodgers 1
WP: Hendricks (2-3) LP: Kershaw (4-3)
Box Score

After last night’s game got rained out, Cubs fans got overloaded with baseball thanks to the first double-header of the season. Despite the daunting opponent and a Javier Baez fielding error to start the game, the Cubs jumped in front in the 1st inning, up 4-0. Clayton Kershaw got absolutely rocked by the Cubs, allowing a double, a single, a walk, a single, a double and a walk in the 1st inning, throwing a career-high 39 pitches and immediately getting yanked for the 2nd inning. And since Clayton Kershaw is an Incredibly Annoying Individual, giving him his worst and shortest start of his career is pretty hilarious.

The Cubs were then able to get two more runs in the 3rd inning. First, Jake Marisnick got hit in the wrist and got a walk, and right after that Ildemaro Vargas singled to bring Marisnick to third base. After Vargas stole 2nd, a wild pitch by Dennis Santana and a horrendous overthrow error by the Dodgers allowed both runners to score. Marisnick reappeared in the 6th inning also and ended up hitting a solo home run to make the game 7-0.

Today was certainly not Javy Baez’s best day defensively. In fact, it’s possible this was one of his worst ever statistically, as he has never had a three-error game in his career. Usually he’s the one making the big flashy plays, but today he was making the stupid errors. A particularly egregious error happened in the 7th; after dropping the ball in the infield and recording an error, he decided to toss the ball over to a Cub that just simply wasn’t there, letting the Dodger on base steal third. Good job, Javy. Sometimes you just have to laugh at it all.

Meanwhile, Kyle Hendricks pitched a complete game for once, and the Cubs’ starting rotation was finally able to make it to and record an out in the 7th inning this season. Although he allowed seven hits, the defense behind Hendricks was able to stay competent enough to only allow one Dodgers run, a solo homer. Hendricks also recorded only one walk and six strikeouts on the day.

May 4, 2021 Game 2
Cubs 4, Dodgers 3 (F/9)
WP: Steele (1-0) LP: Cleavinger (0-2)
Box Score

The Cubs returned to the field a mere three hours later and trotted out Keegan Thompson to the mound for his first-ever major league start against Trevor Bauer, another Incredibly Annoying Individual. (The Dodgers have a lot of those.) Thompson and the defense behind him did a pretty good job of limiting the Dodgers, allowing only two hits and two walks in 3.2 innings for his first start. Rex Brothers, Ryan Tepera and Andrew Chafin combined to allow one hit total and 4 strikeouts.

This game was horrific, however, when it came to runners in scoring position. In 7 innings, the Cubs left fifteen people on base. Jason Heyward’s 3rd-inning homer was the only run the Cubs scored in regulation. Rizzo hits a lead-off triple and nobody can score him? It was honestly a disaster.

Any other team would’ve gained insurance runs on the disaster that is currently the Dodgers and their ugly bullpen, but the Cubs were unable to do it, forcing Craig Kimbrel into a huge save situation. When he allowed a homer to be plunked by Max Muncy, on any other team that wouldn’t have been enough to send the game to extras, but that’s exactly where it went for the Cubbies.

Dillon Maples, who is good by Cubs bullpen standards, threw a wild pitch to score the 2nd baserunner, and then Justin Turner homered to make it 3-1. I almost thought it was over until Javy Baez hit an absolute bomb to tie the game up, through just a great at-bat. In the 9th inning, David Bote hit a second walk-off that he can add to his highlight reel collection of two walk-offs, because his single sent our second baserunner home to end the game.

May 5, 2021
Cubs 6, Dodgers 5 (F/11)
WP: Mills (2-0) LP: Cleavinger (0-3)
Box Score

This game was a pitchers’ duel for the first half, going four innings before a pitcher gave up a run. Adbert Alzolay started this game as the Cubs try to see if they can get him to stretch and cover some more innings. His career-high innings played in a single game is 6.0, so there’s that. He got to the 5th inning before he really started to show wear, and he was immediately yanked to start the 6th (probably a good idea). After giving up a solo homer in the 4th, Alzolay gave up a single and a double to make the score 2-0 Dodgers. Overall, however, Alzolay’s numbers are acceptable for him. He had 6 strikeouts, 1 walk and allowed 1 homer, par for the course for him this season.

Luckily, Jake Marisnick did it again, tying the game and scoring Matt Duffy on a home run. The spotlight has been on Kris Bryant offensively so far this season, but Marisnick deserves some recognition of his own. He has 4 runs in 5 games so far in the month of May and has struck out just twice. He is second on the team behind Kris Bryant with a .987 OPS. When Marisnick’s up to bat, I get excited. And he’s “only” supposed to be a utility player. This is the absolute state of Cubs baseball this season.

The Cubs still left a handful of runners in scoring position, but not nearly as many as yesterday. The Dodgers’ bullpen, still more problematic than our own bullpen, gave up a walk and an RBI for Baez to tie up the game. Kimbrel looked a lot better in today’s 9th inning than last night’s, and because of it the Cubs got to the bottom of the 9th tied. Unable to walk it off, this matchup once again went to extra innings.

Baez had a highlight-reel day, RBI-ing in the tying run of the game and making a huge play at the plate in the 10th inning to limit the damage the Dodgers did from two runs to only one. Rizzo came in to pinch hit, a passed ball put Sogard and Rizzo on second and third, and a cringey Joc Pederson celebration was proved to be too early as he hit a fly ball that just missed home run territory. However, it meant the Cubs got to tie the game. Again.

The Dodgers used Big Brain Logic to intentionally walk Bryant and Baez to load the bases, and a double play showed their big brains paid off. Then there was the double play gone wrong thanks to Rizzo not stepping on the bag and allowing the Dodgers to score another run. However, it was Rizzo that hit the single at the bottom of the 11th inning that gave the Cubs the sweep after some useless dawdling by Dodgers pitcher Alex Vesia to make this game’s runtime a ridiculous four and a half hours.

Next up the Cubs play a series against the Pirates this weekend, who have lost 5 of their last 7 games and have since this series fallen to last place in the NL Central, having one less win than the Cubs and just as many losses. These two teams have split the six games they’ve played so far this season, although the Pirates have won the last two. And nowadays in the batting stats the two teams are just about even with each other, Pittsburgh just .001 point better than the Cubs with a .226 batting average. It’s gonna be loads of fun. See you Sunday.

Baseball

The start of the season continues to slog on as the Cubs continue to suck offensively and lose by multiple runs, just like the old days. The games are honestly hard to watch when other sports are going on — the Hawks were winning this week and there was even a no-hitter across town. But here we are with the summary of the games, in case you didn’t catch them, or if you did catch them and you wanted to relive it all.

Besides pitchers being sick or in COVID protocols, this was the Willson Contreras series, as the hit by pitch saga hopefully ends with his home run to win the game. There aren’t a lot of positives to take out of this series, but that’s one. Additionally, Justin Steele and Pedro Strop made their season debuts and looked pretty good — Strop even got the win on Tuesday. Let’s break down each game.

April 12, 2021
Cubs 3, Brewers 6
WP: Peralta (2-0) LP: Alzolay (0-2)
Box Score

Things don’t get any easier for the Cubs since their atrocious last series, as Jason Adam, Dan Winkler, and Brandon Workman got placed on the COVID-19-related injured list because the Cubs’ bullpen coach Chris Young received a positive test. This didn’t stop Adbert Alzolay from starting, however, trying his best to redeem himself after his horrendous first start that put him at a 7.20 ERA. Although he did get some contact on his pitches early, the Cubs defense behind him was able to field it so there were no hits through the 1st inning.

The Cubs, surprise surprise, got on the board first with a solo homer by Kris Bryant. Bryant leads the team in slugging percentage and OPS, and he came out of this game 2nd on the team with a .233 batting average and a .361 OBP. These numbers are all about average or below average compared to all MLB players last season, which just shows you how much the Cubs offense is currently suffering.

Alzolay seemed to feel more comfortable as the game went on, surprisingly, as he continued to keep the Brewers from staying on the board for the first five innings of the game. By the 6th, however, Alzolay abruptly unraveled, as he gave up two singles and a walk. Rossy replaced him with Andrew Chafin in a bases loaded situation, and on his first pitch Luis Urias immediately hit a double that scored three runners. Then Chafin threw a wild pitch and another runner scored. Then the Brewers tripled and hit another single and suddenly, after just 12 pitches, the score became 6-1 Brewers.

So now’s as good as time as any to bring out Justin Steele on his MLB debut. Justin Steele was able to throw three strikes to finish the inning. This was just the 2nd inning in 2 games in which the Cubs have given up 6 runs, an accomplishment that encompasses the true meaning of the Cubbie Way. Steele continued through the 7th inning to try his very best: strikeout, single, groundout, strikeout, walk, HBP, and groundout was the extent of his inning. (Brad Wieck also made his season debut, in which his fastball is now hitting 93 mph instead of 91 mph like last season. He was able to get the three outs eventually.)

Meanwhile, the Cubs decided that finally, during the 9th inning, they’d try to generate offense. Bryant singled, Pederson walked, a wild pitch sent them to 2nd and 3rd base, Baez doubled to score them both, and then Josh Hader was put into the game to end it quickly and mercilessly.

April 13, 2021
Cubs 3, Brewers 2
WP: Strop (1-0) LP: Suter (0-1)
Box Score

Now that one of the Cubs’ bullpen coaches has COVID-19, the story continued to evolve when we learned that Kyle Hendricks wasn’t going to start this game because he was exhibiting symptoms of congestion, which is a symptom of COVID-19, but also just the regular cold or flu. Although he ended up testing negative, they put him out of the lineup just to be safe and he was able to drive home to Chicago.

In his place they put Alec Mills, who came up on short notice and pitched four innings this game and gave up a glorious two runs, one of them being a home run that scored the two Brewers runs of the night. By the 5th inning, it was time to head to the bullpen, where faces new and old threw some innings for the Cubs.

First, Ryan Tepera came out in the 5th and had a pretty good inning. He walked a pitcher but the defense behind him was able to get him a double play after a ground ball hit. He then closed the inning by throwing behind Brandon Woodruff after Woodruff hit Willson Contreras by yet another pitch the inning before. Woodruff was understandably angry, and it seemed to get in his head because Tepera was able to strike him out — his only strikeout of the inning. Rex Brothers came in the inning after that and was able to record a strikeout of his own.

Kris Bryant, although he did not record a hit this game, had the sacrifice fly in the 4th to score Willson Contreras after he got hit. Bryant now leads the team in batting average and OPS at .243 and .936, respectively. Rizzo also had two hits on the game, leading the team, although he was stranded on base for both of them. His batting average is still a very abysmal .162, which only gives the Rickettses more of a reason to gear up to let him walk.

Pedro Strop made his season debut, and although he recorded a walk and was the only bullpen pitcher to allow a hit, he also got the win for the day. He threw four different kinds of pitches: slider, cutter, sinker and fastball. His slider especially was his most popular pitch and had the highest whiff percentage of any of his pitches at 66.7%. That’s the same number as last year, and it’s definitely been his best pitch over time. I’m sure we’ll see more of it later this season.

The Cubs barely eeked out enough offense in this game to win it, but Willson Contreras was the hero of this game. Having three hit by pitches so far this year and after getting fined by the league for starting the bases-clearing brawl last series because of the COVID-19 protections in place, his home run at the top of the 8th that also scored Happ was what shut the Brewers up for good.

Since this is the first time in four games that the Cubs actually had a lead heading into the last few innings of the game, it was time to bring out Craig Kimbrel to get the save with one out to go in the 8th inning. And because Kimbrel seems to be back to his elite form, he didn’t disappoint. He walked only one batter and only had one strikeout. Even though the other three batters he faced made contact, the defense behind him was solid to win the game.

April 14, 2021
Cubs 0, Brewers 7
WP: Burnes (1-1) LP: Arrieta (2-1)
Box Score

Does anyone actually want to talk about this game? What a disaster, and a game that was a disaster early.

Compared to the previous game, the Brewers struck out 12 of the Cubs batters as opposed to 10. 10 of those 12 strikeouts came from their starter, Corbin Burnes, who currently has a 0.49 ERA after splitting his two starts. Burnes only allowed 2 hits and didn’t walk any batters.

Because Kyle Hendricks is still sick, Jake Arrieta took over the starter’s role. He allowed four hits, three runs, one home run, one walk, and 5 strikeouts for an ERA of 3.18. If the Cubs had any hitting ability at all they would’ve been able to overcome Arrieta’s completely average performance to at least be in this game, but that’s not what happened at all. After five innings, he was pulled for Shelby Miller for his season debut and that’s when things really went off the rails.

Miller immediately allowed the Brewers to load the bases after throwing just two strikes. Then he walked two batters to make it 5-0 Brewers. He didn’t even finish the inning after walking three batters total, allowing two hits, four of the seven Brewers runs, and recording no strikeouts at all.

Time for Justin Steele to come back out again, perhaps because Ross knew there was no getting out of this game with a win thanks with our .163 collective team batting average. Steele gave up a single immediately, scoring the 6th runner for Milwaukee, but at this point all hope was lost and nothing mattered anymore. He was able to strikeout the top of the Brewers’ batting order in Jackie Bradley Jr. and Daniel Robertson, so all in all he put on a pretty good performance and seemed to improve on Monday’s appearance.

The Cubs have a bad habit of leaving runners on base in scoring position. Joc Pederson was at 3rd base with one out in the 2nd inning, but David Bote struck out and Austin Romine flied out after him. In the 9th inning, Rizzo also found himself in scoring position after getting one of the very few Cubs hits this game, but David Bote once again was not able to deliver offensively, unceremoniously grounding out to end the game.

The Cubs have been too reliant on their home runs. Home runs are grand and all, but singles, doubles and triples are just fine too. Again, so is batting in those RISP. I have no idea how, or even if, this offense will ever get fixed. This team just seems completely broken on this end, putting in numbers that are far and away the ugliest in baseball. At this point, I’m fine blowing this all up and starting over, but can the Rickettses even be trusted to shell out money for exciting, offensively-talented players? I don’t think so.

The Cubs have a day off today, and then they will take on a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves, who have also struggled to live up to their preseason expectations. The Braves are 4-8, last in the NL East. They are also the 25th-ranked MLB team offensively. Don’t get excited, though — that puts them three spots ahead of the Brewers, who just crushed us offensively for most of this series, so take with that what you will.

Onward.