And now back on top of the rollercoaster. The Cubs return home, where they’ve looked like a genuine class team all season, and though they did their best to drop one or two to the Giants, they also couldn’t break their own resolve. A resolve they only seem to have when donning the blue pinstripes. Still, they’ll enter the weekend in first place, no matter what the Cardinals do with the Rockies tonight. They won every type of game–a shootout, a pitcher’s duel, and your conventional one. Why does the rest have to be so hard?
-You wouldn’t suggest Cole Hamels is “back,” but he had at least enough stuff and enough savvy to kind of Forrest Gump his way through Tuesday’s opener. It was sort of the Jon Lester thing where you feel like he’s about to give at any moment, but gets through the inning and start simply because he wants to. After what he’d done his two previous you’ll take it, but we’d much prefer the dominating one from earlier in the season back.
-It had been a while since Rizzo had won a game for the Cubs on his own. You have to say though that a mark of a great player is that they’re still finding ways to help even when the power game goes. Rizzo has gotten on base consistently even if he wasn’t slugging, but a slugging binge is what the Cubs need.
-I was worried that with two recent starts for Tony Kemp that Joe Maddon had overreacted to two grounders that were outside Ian Happ‘s limited range during that collapse in Philly, but that fear has subsided since. And thank god for that.
-There isn’t much to say about Nick Castellanos at this point, but it is important to remember an unsustainable binge shouldn’t influence you or the Cubs on whether he should be re-signed this winter or not. There’s going to be a huge push to do so, and that may be the right decision, but just try to keep the whole picture in mind. He’s not a .400 hitter. He might be entering his prime right now and could be better than what he’s been before, but let’s try and keep reasoned here if possible.
-There is so much to say about Wednesday’s win I don’t know if I have time. We’ve been over Yu’s work, so we don’t have to go over that again. There were some curious decisions from Maddon, which he got away with because his offense decided they were going to win no matter what. He definitely got caught cold with how quickly it blew up on Darvish, which meant only Derek Holland was warming up. And when he got through two lefties who both got on, that meant he had to face a righty which he never should have to do. Secondly, Joe never seemed to realize that Little Yaz has been better against lefties than righties all season, even having Kyle Ryan deal with him today (which he also got away with).
In the 7th last night, Joe seems determined to make sure that Steve Cishek warms up and comes in double the amount now to make up for the appearances he missed while on the IL. Right into the fire. But there were runners on, lefties up, grounders needed, which is what Brandon Kintzler does. Cishek got out of it with only a sac fly given up, but you wanted things on the ground or Ks. Kintzler probably should have started the inning. Of course, Kintzler gets out of the 8th relatively cleanly. Coudl have used that in the 6th or 7th.
-Luckily, Kris Bryant is still a Cub. That’s three games in a week he’s pulled the Cubs’ ass out of a sling.
-Today’s game looked a lot like one where both teams played too late last night. The sun was the offensive MVP, and the Giants only real chance came after Castellanos got pretty dizzy chasing what would have been a homer from Crawford on 75 other home dates. Still, the Cubs got six outs from the pen to protect a one-run lead without needing Kimbrel or Cishek. That’s an upset.
-Those two outings were the best Kimbrel has looked since becoming a Cub. I won’t count on it to be a trend, as it’s just going to be a weird season for him given the preparation, but 98 MPH is 98 MPH.