Baseball

Yesterday was likely one of the hardest days in Cubs history. The trade deadline we’d had circled on the calendar finally happened, and despite knowing for months exactly what was gonna happen, it didn’t make saying goodbye any more painful.

Jed Hoyer sent away not one, not two, but ALL THREE of the core players from the 2016 World Series team that had expiring contracts after this year, over the last 48ish hours. He also sent away the three key pieces that made the Cubs bullpen so nails during the start of the season, and also Jake Marisnick and Trevor Williams, if you got attached to those guys. (I didn’t.)

Despite knowing it was coming, it’s still extremely difficult to say goodbye, especially because fans aren’t sure if there will ever be another Cubs team like the 2015-2017 teams. There may not be, and the future is now filled with question marks and unknowns for Cubs fans. Hatred toward the Ricketts family for not adequately building around for the core post-2016 is now the norm for any North Sider, and distrust that he will be able to build a core that strong again is certainly rampant throughout the fanbase.

There are many players to say goodbye to, so let’s get going.

Joc Pederson – Though he was sent away a while before the trade deadline, he deserves a space in this eulogy just like anyone else, I guess. He was our starting left fielder for the first half of the season, and though he was overly hyped to begin the season thanks to a crazy spring training, his offensive numbers were just about always in the top five of Cubs players: runs, hits, doubles, triples, and RBIs — he’s there for all of them. (Granted, the team’s offense overall this season has for all but one month been in the bottom of the league standings, but at least he was trying.)

Pederson now plays for the Atlanta Braves, where he has 17 hits, 2 homers, and a .288/.333/.441 slash line in 14 games, because of course he does. Pederson was always going to be short-term, signed on a one-year prove-it deal, so Cubs fans can say goodbye and good luck to the outfielder as he continues his MLB career elsewhere.

Andrew Chafin – Though shaky early on, allowing eight hits in April, Chafin quickly turned into a bullpen staple and was continually relied upon to get outs, arguably a little too much. He ended his Cubs career with a 2.03 ERA out of the bullpen, pitching almost 40 innings and allowing only 21 hits and 9 runs. As a native of my home state who played baseball at my college, Chafin was a favorite player of mine the last few seasons. I wish him all the best as he…attempts to make the playoffs with the A’s, I guess?

Ryan Tepera – Another bullpen staple was moved mid-game Friday across town to the White Sox, to the behest of many angry people on Twitter. (There were a lot of them yesterday.) Although Tepera didn’t do too well in his White Sox debut yesterday, not being able to get any outs and allowing a run, Sox fans will soon come to like him as he had a 2.91 ERA for the Cubs over 43 innings pitched. If you need an inning from him he can usually provide one without giving up any runs in the process. In fact, prior to yesterday’s game, he hadn’t given up a run since June 28, right before he was put on the IL.

Anthony Rizzo – Despite being out of Friday’s lineup for a “scheduled rest day,” the announcement that he had been traded — to the damn Yankees, of all teams — still felt like your guts were getting ripped out when you heard the news.

Like many sportswriters have pointed out before me, Rizzo will never have to pay for dinner in this city for as long as he lives. For nine years, he was the face of the greatest Cubs run in history. He caught the final out, hit 242 home runs (6th all-time for the club), drove in 784 batters, got MVP votes in five straight seasons, is a four-time Gold Glover, and appeared in three straight All-Star Games. This doesn’t even get into his charitable foundation, all the money he raised and all the smiles he put on children in hospitals all across Chicago.

Although his WAR suggests he’s on the decline, and his back will likely continue to keep him out of the lineup for short stretches, Rizzo is a veteran presence and a shakeup the Yankees infield probably needs. He also slashed .248/.346/.446 this season, better numbers than the rest of the Yankees’ first basemen this season combined. Take care of him, Yanks. We’ll miss him.

Craig Kimbrel – Moved on trade deadline day to the White Sox to join Ryan Tepera, Kimbrel was another pitcher acquired by the Cubs who started things off quite rocky but ended up straightening the ship, being incredibly reliable when called onto the mound and continuing his hall of fame career with the Cubs.

When coming over from Boston in 2019, Kimbrel was shaky, posting a 6.53 ERA. Everyone shuddered when Maddon would put him on the mound that year; I know I was. However, Rossy had confidence in him that the fanbase didn’t have, and he was eventually right on that one for once. He posted a 5.28 ERA in 2020, allowing nine runs in eighteen appearances, but has returned this season to a form that he’s never really been before. His 0.49 ERA is astounding considering the team behind him, and his best ERA since his MLB debut for the Braves in 2010, despite having only half the number of appearances for Atlanta that year.

He’s also only allowed six runs total in 39 games he’s appeared in. The Sox are getting an amazing, hall of fame closer, making their pitching even more dangerous, as Kimbrel continues to climb up the all-time career saves list. (371, for those counting at home.) Best of luck.

Javier Baez (and Trevor Williams) – Baez is on the back of my jersey, and it’s because he made the game so excited to watch. He kept you sitting in front of the TV during the 3-hour slog that baseball games can sometimes be; his defensive plays often had you doing double takes, asking how on earth did he do that? His baserunning was magical, and the 140 homers he hit for the Cubs, his .262/.303./.474 career slash line for the club, and the ridiculously high 900 strikeouts were just another unique dimension to his on-field play.

Javy is going to be sliding over to second to play with Francisco Lindor on the Mets after Lindor returns from injury soon, and they will probably make some crazy highlight-reel plays together that will make you remember the good old days. He’s going to love playing with him, the Mets will likely offer him a bigger contract than the Cubs, and life will move on. I truly wish him all the best and hope he thrives there, as it’s certainly what he deserves.

As for Trevor Williams, his quality starts were few and far between for the Cubs, only three out of thirteen total. It probably wasn’t helped by his bout of appendicitis a quarter of the way through the season that shut him down for all of June. I’m sure his father is bummed Williams is leaving Chicago, but hey, New York’s…kinda fun too, I guess?

Kris Bryant – The prized trade chip — one who never wanted to leave the Cubs. When KB was drafted, he zoomed right through the minors and spent no time immediately becoming one of the best players in the league, winning NL Rookie of the Year and NL MVP in his time with the Cubs, a feat no other Cub has done.

Though he has dealt with injury issues throughout his career, his statistics over his seven years in the MLB are still really impressive: his .279/.378/.508 slash line, 160 homers and 465 RBIs were a huge part of what made the Cubs elite, especially in the 2015 and 2016 seasons. His career WAR is, boy howdy, 27.6. He was on a tear this season as well, hitting 18 homers and 51 RBIs despite some nagging injuries; his RBI numbers this year especially are on track to be better than he’s had throughout his entire career. For a lot of this season, Bryant was carrying the Cubs offense on his back.

Now he heads to the San Francisco Giants to chase another ring and hopefully beat down the Dodgers in the process. He wanted to stay in Chicago, and it was quite sad to see videos of him sitting in the dugout Thursday and getting the phone call Friday before the game. Bryant should’ve been a Cub for life because he was such a special one — for God’s sake, you could ask him to fill in at pretty much any spot on the field and he wouldn’t break a sweat. Hopefully he gets the money (and another ring?) that he deserves during his time with the Giants.

Jake Marisnick – Hoyer threw this one in at the end just to mess with us after all the other franchise-altering damage had been done. Marisnick played fine for us over his 65 games this year, never truly horrific in the outfield and putting up middling offensive numbers compared to the rest of his career. He’ll likely be remembered with a passing shrug by Cubs fans; now he’ll be with the Padres trying to chase a playoff spot. Say hello to Darvish for me.

We have some horrific baseball in front of us for the next few months, Cubs fans. I’d be lying if I said I even turned on yesterday’s game, though tonight’s showed a bit more promise. The good news is that former Cubs will likely be seen dotted throughout the playoff race, although you’ll have to decide which of the Yankees, Giants, White Sox, or Mets are the lesser evil when the playoffs do roll around. (I guess I’ll be cheering on the Sox for my colleagues’ sake. Let’s not spread the bad vibes across town, shall we?)

We now enter the great unknown; who knows what’s coming up next for the Cubs. I may as well stick around to see what happens. I hope some of you will too. Go Cubs go.

Baseball

Luckily for us, we will no longer be subject to the bad baseball that the Arizona Diamondbacks have brought to us over the past few weeks. Despite the blowout on Saturday that we’d all rather forget happened, the Cubs otherwise made quick work and picked up two wins against Arizona this weekend.

It doesn’t really matter for us at this point, however, as we continue to move about our lives alongside a baseball season that no longer matters. We continue to enjoy what is likely some of the final games of Kris Bryant, Craig Kimbrel and perhaps others in a Cubs uniform as the trade deadline looms like a dark cloud over fans and all of the Cubs baseball writers. But hey, David Bote’s back! And he hit a home run! These are the silly things we get to grip onto post-deadline, are you excited?

July 23, 2021
Cubs 8, Diamondbacks 3
WP: Davies (6-6) LP: Gallen (1-5)
Box Score

The Cubs never cease to get their offense going during games where nothing matters anymore. In this case, it was the start of this series against the D-backs where the Cubs scored more runs in the first half of the game than they had scored in the last two games total against St. Louis.

Also amazingly, the Cubs didn’t wait until the tail end of the game to start producing. In the 1st inning, they scored three runs against the Diamondbacks after Bryant and Anthony Rizzo were both walked. Javy Baez homered easily to send all three home for a commanding lead to start the game.

The bottom of the 3rd was a bit of a disaster for the D-backs, as their starter Zac Gallen walked Bryant (again) and gave up a single to Rizzo that sent Bryant to third base. They ended up getting him out at the plate when Baez hit a ball to third, but it ended up not mattering. Matt Duffy, newly activated from the IL, walked to load the bases, and then Gallen threw a wild pitch to send Rizzo home. Nico Hoerner singled to score Baez and Duffy, and although he ended up being tagged out at second to end the inning, the damage had already been done. The D-backs would never recover. The Official New Backup Catcher (according to the Marquee announcers, of course) Robinson Chirinos had a solo homer in the bottom of the 4th to make things 7-0 Cubs.

Zach Davies pitched an okay game, which is not hard to do against the D-backs, who got 7 hits off of him and managed to score 0 runs. He also struck out eight batters in his 5.1 innings out, and with the Cubs going nuts offensively earlier in the game it would be enough to put him in line for the win. Not sure why he was put into the 6th inning after he was already at 100 pitches but keeping pitchers in for just a bit too long is Rossy’s favorite thing to do as manager.

Davies was replaced by Adam Morgan, who immediately gave up a double to score two runs that Davies had allowed on base earlier in the inning. After a quick mound visit, Morgan was able to reel it in and strikeout the next two batters to limit the damage, and it certainly helped that Chirinos hit yet another home run in the bottom of that inning as well; he went three for four today and had a great game.

Keegan Thompson threw the final three innings of the game and looked pretty good doing it, allowing only one hit, a solo homer. He also had two strikeouts and only walked one player. He got his first big league save of the night also, an accolade he well deserved. He is one bright spot in the lineup that I’m excited to keep watching in the future.

July 24, 2021
Cubs 3, Diamondbacks 7
WP: Kelly (7-7) LP: Chafin (0-2)
Box Score

After putting on a good performance the day before, the Cubs got domed by the D-backs for this game, because of course they did. They had a 2-0 lead going into the 5th inning but ended up squandering it quickly and not getting the lead back.

It was in the 3rd inning where Alec Mills (a pitcher, you say?) doubled, Rafael Ortega singled and Bryant walked to load the bases. Baez grounded into a double play to make it a two-out inning but not before Mills was able to score. In the 4th, a solo homer by Willson Contreras made it 2-0 Cubs.

Mills pitched into the 5th inning before things started to go haywire, as he walked the first batter and later gave up a home run that tied the game. A double and another walk later put the Cubs in a dicey situation, but Anthony Rizzo was able to field a ground ball to end the inning. Mills got pulled by Ross before the 6th.

Dan Winkler made it through the rest of the 6th as relief with no issues; instead, it was Andrew Chafin, who can usually be relied upon to get outs, getting the loss tonight and having the bad game. In the 7th, he walked the first two batters and then gave up a single to give the D-backs the lead. A double given up after that ended Chafin’s day, as it became 5-2 Diamondbacks. Ryan Tepera was put in and was able to get three straight outs, two of them strikeouts, to get out of the inning.

Trevor Megill pitched 0.2 innings and gave up a walk and a single to put runners on first and second, where he was replaced by Rex Brothers. Brothers allowed a double and a home run in the 9th to complete the shellacking.

After a rain delay that lasted nearly two hours, Anthony Rizzo scored a run off of a double in the bottom of the 9th inning thanks to a wild pitch and some good baserunning. It wouldn’t be enough to score, and soon after that Contreras got ejected for arguing balls and strikes from the bench on Jason Heyward, having to be restrained by Ross as the frustration of losing to such a bottomfeeding team finally boiled over. It wouldn’t matter, as the game was already put away 7-3.

July 25, 2021
Cubs 5, Diamondbacks 1
WP: Williams (4-2) LP: Smith (3-7)
Box Score

Fueled by a pair of home runs in the 1st and a Willson Contreras walk, the Cubs quickly jumped out to a 3-0 lead against the D-backs. Adding onto that, the newly-returned David Bote hit a two-run homer in the 4th inning, scoring Patrick Wisdom, who walked earlier. Despite the homer-heavy offense that made up the game, the Cubs were able to right whatever was wrong in the previous game in order to hold the Diamondbacks off the scoreboard and score a litany of runs on their own.

Trevor Williams had a quality start, a rare accomplishment for him. However, he deserves a pat on the back for his six strikeouts, no walks and only five hits allowed for the first 6.1 innings of the game. The bullpen also deserves a tip of the cap, as five bullpen guys pitched today, none of them going a full inning, and yet they allowed only two hits combined and one measly run that happened in the 9th. If you want to be nit-picky, it was Dillon Maples that could’ve been better; he walked David Peralta to start the 9th, and then a groundout moved him to second base, and a single drove him in. Maples hasn’t allowed two walks in an outing since May 30, so it will likely be something he can control moving forward. Kimbrel closed out the game and got the last out in the 9th, because of course he did.

The Cubs now move on to play the Reds this week, the final series before the July 30th trade deadline. The Reds themselves are barely over .500, 2.5 games up on the Cubs, but 6.5 games back of the first-place Brewers. They’ve only won three of their last nine games, although technically we’d be considered easy pickings for the Reds to try and gain on the Brewers in the division race, I guess?

The next time I write for you all, this team will look very different, as we likely move into a completely new era of Cubs baseball. Enjoy the players while you still can, and I’ll be back to wrap up this series and the subsequent trade deadline to assess the damage. See you all then. Go Cubs go!

Baseball

What once could’ve been two teams fighting for the top of the division just a few months ago has now devolved into two teams with no playoff hopes playing a meaningless series of late-July baseball. There were SOME entertaining moments throughout the series, although the bar may be set quite low on what Cubs fans consider “entertainment.” A miraculous come-from-behind win and watching our young pitchers in Adbert Alzolay, Dillon Maples and Keegan Thompson (plus veteran Kyle Hendricks) is never a bad thing. However, we did see a lot of bad things this series too, as we still can’t hit, our bullpen is exhausted and Kris Bryant is once again injured. Let’s break it down and move on.

July 19, 2021
Cubs 3, Cardinals 8
WP: Woodford (2-1) LP: Mills (4-3)
Box Score

In classic Cubs fashion, there was no offense to be had for the first half of the game. Alec Mills was the starter and he looked good about one time through the lineup before things really began to unravel. In the 3rd, he allowed a single and a groundout that sent a runner to second. Then Dylan Carlson singled as Mills ducked from the ball instead of reaching his glove out and catching it, my pet peeve that pitchers nowadays enjoy doing that nearly always gives up a base hit. It ended up scoring the Cardinals’ first of many runs.

Things got much worse at the bottom of the next inning, where the Cardinals ended up scoring 4 runs on a plethora of fielding errors and singles and fielder’s choices where the entire team more or less imploded together. I don’t even want to describe how ugly it was. Javy Baez committed two of the three errors in the inning, which does nothing but plummet his trade value, if your current focus is solely on the future and getting some new core players. Mills threw 32 pitches in this inning alone, which promptly ended this outing as soon as the final out was called.

The 5th inning saw offense from some surprising faces, as it was Patrick Wisdom, Rafael Ortega and Eric Sogard who singled three times in a row to load the bases in a no-out situation. It was Ian Happ up to pinch-hit, and unfortunately he was hitting more like himself, grounding into a double play. The Cubs ended the inning only able to score one measly runner in Wisdom. It wouldn’t be enough, as the Cardinals would score three more runners in the bottom of the 6th to make the game all but over.

Every Cubs pitcher allowed a hit this game, with our bullpen not being as strong as they usually are on that front. However, it was Mills and Keegan Thompson who gave up all the runs. The bullpen allowed no walks and were responsible for four of the ten strikeouts. This game was definitely a forgettable one.

July 20, 2021
Cubs 7, Cardinals 6
WP: Maples (1-0) LP: Reyes (5-4)
Box Score

This was some crazy baseball, coming from the most unexpected team at the most unexpected time. For eight straight innings, the Cubs’ bats were almost completely dead, only being able to produce one measly run in the 2nd inning, and only getting three hits total for the first eight innings of the game. The Cardinals quickly took control of the game for the next few innings after that initial Cubs run, giving them a commanding 6-1 lead going into the 7th inning that made everyone want to change the channel. (If you didn’t, you were about to get some crazy baseball.)

It felt like just one final inning before the inevitable loss until it was time for the Cardinals to replace Justin Miller with Luis Garcia in the 9th inning. Things went off the rails pretty fast. Despite Wisdom striking out to start the inning, the third strike ended up being a wild pitch that allowed him to make it to first base. Hoerner moved things along with a single that sent him to third base when the Cardinals committed a throwing error on the play.

Jake Marisnick getting walked loaded the bases, causing the Cards to yank Garcia in exchange for Alex Reyes, Sergio Alcantara walked after him to score Wisdom to make it 6-2 Cardinals.

Willson Contreras struck out next, but he can be excused considering he had one of only three Cubs hits all game before the 9th. Anthony Rizzo walked again, scoring another runner to make it 6-2. Then Baez hit a ground ball single that scored two runners, and Ian Happ of all people came in to get the double that scored the winning run for the Cubs. It was a complete whirlwind of an inning that ended, amusingly, the same way it started: with Wisdom striking out swinging.

Dillon Maples gets his first win of the season in just his second appearance from a near-month-long stint on the IL, and he looked pretty good doing it. He pitched one inning, the 8th, and had two strikeouts and allowed no hits. Additionally, Craig Kimbrel came out in the 9th to throw his signature two-strikeout save, getting yet another audition to any contending teams who may be vying for him. (His departure is inevitable, unfortunately.)

The rest of the pitchers weren’t much to see, as Trevor Williams only made it five innings and allowed four of the six Cards runs, and Rex Brothers allowed two runs in the 6th for a 4.25 ERA. However, the efforts of just about the whole lineup made up for these gaffs thanks to their 9th-inning rally in the win. It’s the little victories at this point, Cubs fans.

June 21, 2021
Cubs 2, Cardinals 3 (F/10)
WP: McFarland (1-0) LP: Kimbrel (1-3)
Box Score

When Kyle Hendricks is on the mound, he does just about everything in his power to give the Cubs a win, which was exactly what happened tonight. Despite giving up eight hits in 6.1 innings played, Hendricks was able to keep the Cardinals off the board for the first two-thirds of game. In the 5th inning, the Cardinals had runners on first and third base with only one out, but Hendricks was able to pitch himself out of that jam, making a throw to Hoerner to get the out on a sacrifice bunt attempt and then striking out Dylan Carlson.

The Cubs once again couldn’t convert on a ton of offensive chances. They scored the first run of the game in the 3rd inning after Hoerner singled and Rafael Ortega hit a triple to score him. (Ortega had another hit in the 1st inning; two-hit outings for Cubs players officially means you had a Good Game.) However, the Cubs couldn’t score any more runs in the inning, despite runners once again on the corners, as Ortega got caught stealing home to end the inning.

In the 6th, the Cubs had another opportunity to extend their lead after Contreras was able to hit a double to start things off. Unfortunately Contreras was unable to score, as yet another out at the plate was successfully made by the Cardinals. By that time the momentum was lost and the Cardinals got out of that inning unscathed as well.

Heyward got another double in the 7th inning, but once again the Cubs couldn’t convert. Hendricks, showing signs of tiredness in the 6th inning, came back out in the 7th for whatever reason, where he immediately allowed a single. A double two batters later ended up scoring the Cardinals’ tying run. (Could’ve seen that coming.) Andrew Chafin replaced him and immediately gave up a hit, but no more runs for the Cardinals.

The game seemed to be over, but once again the Cubs barely squeaked out enough offense to stay alive in the top of the 9th inning, where of course it was Eric Sogard who doubled to score Hoerner, who had earlier been hit by a pitch, to tie the game. The Cubs even loaded the bases after the Cardinals swapped out their pitcher and the new guy, John Gant, hit two more Cubs with the ball. However, Rizzo grounded out to end the inning without the Cubs being able to usurp the lead.

Keegan Thompson was tasked with getting three outs in the 9th inning, and he started out well; despite allowing a single he then threw two straight strikeouts. But after he walked the next batter, it was time to pull out the big guns. Kimbrel appeared in his 3rd-straight game, getting the Cubs to the 10th inning, but eventually would get the loss as he ended up walking Nolan Arenado and allowing a single to Yadier Molina that scored the walk-off run.

July 22, 2021
Cubs 2, Cardinals 3
WP: Kim (6-5) LP: Alzolay (4-10)
Box Score

Once again, the Cubs’ offense essentially came all at once in one inning, which is not a winning strategy. Jake Marisnick was responsible for both Cubs rubs. He doubled to score Patrick Wisdom, who got on base through a walk, and Baez, who singled.

It was another story for the Cardinals, who gained three runs in the first three innings against Adbert Alzolay. Alzolay allowed only four hits in his six innings pitched and had eight strikeouts, but it didn’t keep the Cardinals from capitalizing when he did allow hits, through home runs by Dylan Carlson and Nolan Arenado.

Rossy put in Dillon Maples for the 7th, who hasn’t been too bad at all since returning from injury. However, after hitting Edmundo Sosa in the head and commencing a 10-minute injury delay, he was obviously shaken up by the events, walking the next batter after striking out his first. Ross did the right thing by replacing him, but unfortunately he was replaced by Winkler, who is sketchy to watch at best. Winkler allowed the bases to be loaded to Arenado but was able to get out of it after Arenado flew out to end the inning.

There was only one hit for the rest of the game, and it came from the Cardinals with Trevor Megill on the mound in the 8th. Kris Bryant even pinch hit to try and get some offense going, where he ended up walking, but the rest of the team just couldn’t generate enough offense to even put anyone in scoring position. Same old story.

The Cubs go back to play the Arizona Diamondbacks again this weekend, in case you didn’t get enough of that dreck last time. Since we saw the D-backs last series, they have won three of their last three games, sweeping the Pirates. Granted, that’s not hard to do, as the Pirates are also basement-dwellers in the MLB, but that’s a better three-game record than what we came up with.

At this point every game is an opportunity to make trade candidates look good before they get dealt from us for prospects we’ve never heard of or players that aren’t as good. It’s a tough point in the season, but let’s attempt to enjoy it while we can, I guess? 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

It’s bad, folks. The team is not good; despite ending their double-digit losing streak on Wednesday, the Cubs got beat down every other game, including getting blanked last night 8-0. Every facet of the team is now somehow to blame, from the starting pitching, to the streaky offense, to the imperfect defense, to scraping the bottom of the barrel with catchers available in the system so Contreras can have a day off, to the bullpen finally wearing out.

Jed Hoyer said yesterday he’s been taking calls to sell at the deadline. Brace yourselves, everyone: a fire sale is coming.

July 5, 2021
Cubs 3, Phillies 13
WP: Brogdon (5-2) LP: Brothers (2-2)
Box Score

I’ve spent the last week-plus talking quite poorly about this team, as you know if you too subject yourself to too much inconsistent, crappy baseball. Perhaps you too felt a flicker of hope when, in the bottom of the 1st inning, the Cubs were able to load the bases thanks to two walks and a single by Anthony Rizzo after only 1 out. However, we came back to reality after watching both Patrick Wisdom and Joc Pederson get struck out to strand all three baserunners. It was a sign of things to come.

The things to come were just more of the same. The Phillies tied the game a half-inning later, and the Cubs were able to score in the bottom of the 3rd again, thanks to a Kris Bryant single and a Javy Baez double. Once again, the Cubs would score all their runs in the first few innings of the game and then proceed to collapse late in the game, a sign that the bullpen is exhausted.

This was Zach Davies’ start, and he allowed two of the runs early. He also allowed four hits and two walks in only 5.0 innings pitched. Both his runs were home runs, but the numbers still aren’t pretty.

Rex Brothers allowed two more Phillies runs to start the 6th inning. He only pitched a third of the inning, and we got to watch Rossy get ejected after that walk was called, arguing balls and strikes with the umpire in a show of frustration not usually seen from him. It wouldn’t help to rally the offense by any means, of course. For the rest of the game the Cubs only had two singles and a Baez solo home run. Meanwhile, the Phillies put up six more runs in the 8th and three more in the 9th, absolutely lighting up Adam Morgan to the point where he allowed three runs without even a single out. Kohl Stewart threw the rest of the inning while allowing three runs and a walk, and we got to watch Eric Sogard pitch for the third time this year, which becomes more of a disgrace every time I have to watch it.

July 6, 2021
Cubs 10, Phillies 15
WP: Nola (6-5) LP: Arrieta (5-9)
Box Score

The time to part ways from Jake Arrieta has long since passed, sad as it may be. But loading the bases in the 1st inning, with no outs, and allowing a grand slam to put this team in the hole to start out the game is just unacceptable. Trevor Williams was activated from the IR today, finally recovered from his appendix surgery, and at this point even he seems like a better option.

The Phillies were able to score again in the 2nd inning after Joc Pederson committed an incredible two errors on a single play, dropping the ball, allowing it to bounce away and off his shoe and dropping it a SECOND TIME before throwing it to Sergio Alcantara at second base. Of course, the runner was safe. A ball hit to him just a few batters later resulted in yet another bases-loaded situation, and this time Ian Happ wanted to get in on the errorpalooza, unable to properly field a hit to center field, resulting in yet another runner scoring.

By this time it was 7-0 Phillies. In the 3rd inning, a Cubs rally finally ensued to let everyone know we weren’t watching a bunch of lifeless bodies out on the field. It started with the bottom of the lineup, too, as Alcantara and Rafael Ortega both hit singles. Pederson’s offensive attempts to make up for his defensive blunders somewhat succeeded when he doubled to score a run. Kris Bryant singled as well and scored a second runner — good thing he’ll be gone at the deadline, am I right? Baez was so close to a three-run homer, but a sacrifice fly to make it 7-3 is better than nothing in this situation.

The Phillies scored two more runs in the 4th inning, in which we saw Trevor Williams come out to the mound. He pitched longer than anyone on the mound for the Cubs, at 3.2 innings. However, he allowed seven runs total, just as much as Arrieta, so I guess scratch him being a better option. Pitching’s just not good.

The Cubs had a measly solo home run in the 6th thanks to Baez again, but just a half-inning later Williams’s collapse of two singles, a fielding error and a home run this inning made it 12-4 Phillies. Bryce Harper immediately homered off of his replacement, Dan Winkler. The Cubs were able to string some offense and hits together for the last few innings, with a slew of singles, doubles and a pair of homers from Baez and backup-backup-backup catcher Robinson Chirinos. Despite scoring 6 runs in the last 3 innings, the hole the Cubs dug themselves into in the first two thirds of the game was insurmountable. Surprised?

July 7, 2021
Cubs 8, Phillies 3
WP: Mills (4-2) LP: Wheeler (6-5)
Box Score

The Cubs finally won a game, which is technically progress. They did it thanks to the help of Alec Mills, who pitched five scoreless innings against the Phillies, allowing only 2 hits and 1 walk during those innings, before tiring out in the 6th and allowing a single, a double and a home run to score three batters.

Thanks in part to the pitching, the Cubs were able to get going offensively and stay afloat. They scored three runs in the 1st inning off of four singles and a fielding error by the Phillies. They scored two more runs in the 2nd inning after two singles and a triple by Anthony Rizzo. Although the bats slowed down in the middle of the game, the Cubs were able to answer to the Phillies’ three-run 6th inning with three runs of their own at the bottom of the inning. It was Patrick Wisdom with two RBIs in that inning who scored Ian Happ and Joc Pederson; Pederson’s single scored Nico Hoerner, who singled to start off the inning.

The Cubs are a little banged up, what with Sogard on the IL and Baez getting benched amid a hot offensive streak because of his finger again. Kris Bryant left this game with hamstring tightness, also, but Wisdom replacing him ended up being not too shabby. Will an injury now plummet his trade value, however? You know the Rickettses are worried.

The team came through with a win despite the shabby lineup. Hoerner was in good company with Rizzo and Pederson; all three had two hits on the night. Rafael Ortega, known for getting on base in pinch-hitting situations, had a rough go of it with three strikeouts, but other than that everyone seemed okay. The bullpen of Rex Brothers, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel gave up no runs, of course, and only one hit to close out the game effectively.

July 9, 2021
Cubs 0, Phillies 8
WP: Elfin (4-6) LP: Alzolay (4-9)
Box Score

Alzolay did throw some good pitches last night, getting five strikeouts and only one walk in five innings. Unfortunately, he’s still bleeding hits, with five in this start, leading to four runs by the Phillies. He was at first able to keep the damage down to a minimum, allowing a run in the 2nd and 3rd innings, giving the offense lots of time to score runs of any caliber. By the 5th inning, though, he gave up a single and a home run, and without the Cubs scoring any runs it seemed all but over by that point.

Good thing Cory Abbott is here to save the day in the bullpen! He pitched the 6th without allowing any runs mostly thanks to the fielding behind him not committing an error. He was able to get out of the inning in a bases loaded situation but would not be so lucky in the 7th. He allowed a single, a home run, a double and another home run to give the Phillies a commanding 8-0 lead that would stay that way the rest of the game.

I don’t even want to talk about the offense, do you? The Cubs only had five hits; I’d say they weren’t coming from their big guns but the only “core” players playing last night were Rizzo and Heyward. The team left 12 runners on base, but only two of them ever made it to scoring position. It was an ugly game to end an ugly series, one that cemented the fact that Jed Hoyer is going to be selling this team for parts, and stat.

Nothing matters anymore, so why not play the Cardinals this weekend? They are exactly tied with us in the standings except they’ve won six of their last ten as opposed to us only winning one. It’s going to be an ugly series by every stretch of the imagination; watch only if you dare, but as always, go Cubs go!

Baseball

The season really can’t be more kaput now. Anyone with half a brain knows exactly what the Cubs front office is thinking after the team put on this exhibition this week: three must-win games against the Brewers, and not one game was won. If the front office ships out everyone at the trade deadline, I will not bat an eye or be surprised, and I assume you won’t either.

To make matters worse, the team is significantly more injured where we stand today than where we started at the beginning of this series. When the Cubs media is writing articles about how much you miss Matt Duffy on your offense, something is wrong. Anthony Rizzo missed all three games in this series, and he’s currently second on the team in batting average and OPS and third on the team in slugging. Kris Bryant, first on the team in all of those categories, missed the last two games. Patrick Wisdom got rocked replacing them at first base, and did I mention our catching pipeline behind Willson Contreras is two guys on the 60-day IL and A Guy from Iowa?

There’s a lot more to be angry about here, so let’s break it down.

June 28, 2021
Cubs 4, Brewers 14
WP: Williams (5-1) LP: Tepera (0-2)
Box Score

I must admit, this was the kind of season-on-the-line fun I was hoping for this series — for the first seven innings, at least — with lots of back and forth between both teams in a close competition. Both starting pitchers left the game in a no decision, throwing 6 innings each. It wasn’t an immaculate night by Hendricks by any means, as he gave up seven hits and four runs and struck out only four people, but thanks to an absolute two-run BOMB by Patrick Wisdom, he was able to get off the hook for a loss of any kind.

The Cubs and Brewers both scored two runs in the 1st inning, respectively. After Joc Pederson walked, Ian Happ homered to score both of them. For the Brewers, a single, a double, a walk and another single tied the game, where it would stay until the bottom of the 3rd inning when a solo homer was hit against Hendricks. A single, a stolen base and another single allowed the Brewers to go up 4-2 in the 6th inning, but the aforementioned Wisdom home run tied it for the Cubs.

Pederson walked again directly after the home run, and Ian Happ singled after him. Unfortunately, Pederson was tagged out at third after a pretty miraculous play by the Brewers defense, and Javy Baez characteristically struck out swinging in a meaningful at-bat situation.

In the 8th inning, the Cubs were able to load the bases thanks to a double and a walk-a-palooza. Rafael Ortega, who has had a good record lately in the pinch-hitting position, was asked to RBI in someone, anyone, to put the Cubs ahead. In a full-count situation, however, he ended up grounding out on an easy routine play to first base.

The Brewers, meanwhile, wrapped everything up in the bottom of the 8th, after Ryan Tepera allowed two walks and a double to make it 5-4 Brewers. Then a sacrifice fly scored another Brewer to make it 6-4, and a double made it 7-4 Brewers. Tepera has been phenomenal for the Cubs all season, being one of the three Cubs relievers (beside Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel) who have nearly always locked down any games they threw if the Cubs were on top. He was put on the 10-day IL after this game, giving him some much-needed rest. Hopefully that will help him get back to the pitcher he’s been all season.

His replacement was Trevor Megill, who immediately intentionally walked Christian Yelich and allowed Willy Adames to hit a 3-run homer to blow the game wide open, 10-4. A walk, a single, a double and another home run later and your eyes were just glazing over. No surprise he was shipped back down to Iowa after this performance. No more Trevor Megill please.

June 30, 2021
Cubs 1, Brewers 2
WP: Woodruff (7-3) LP: Davies (5-5)
Box Score

At least this one wasn’t a total blowout. Brandon Woodruff is one of the better pitchers in the league, so I guess there’s nothing much to say offensively about his performance; both teams were outpitched generally by the starters.

Zach Davies gave up a run in the 1st inning, but other than that he kept things close between the teams; the offense just had a lot of trouble hitting the ball, as usual. The Cubs had only six hits, two coming from Joc Pederson. They also got walked seven times, and there were multiple RISP situations and one bases-loaded situation that they just couldn’t convert on. Ian Happ especially struck out swinging in that bases-loaded situation, ending the inning without being able to score a desperately needed run for the Cubs. What else is new with this team?

Baez struck out twice, but he also got a hit—a triple—and scored the Cubs’ only run. He also walked to load the bases, which is a true marvel for him in that situation. The team just seemed to sorely miss the bats of Bryant and Rizzo. The half-inning after the Cubs scored and tied it, the Brewers came back with a run of their own, a line drive that scored someone Davies had walked earlier. Despite nails bullpen appearances by Brad Wieck, Keegan Thompson, Dan Winkler and 31-year-old Adam Morgan, the Cubs couldn’t find enough runs to eke out a win.

June 30, 2021
Cubs 7, Brewers 5
WP: Richards (3-0) LP: Brothers (2-1)
Box Score

If you didn’t have enough of a reason to hate the Brewers, even after this week, then this game will make you hate them even more. Or maybe I should be directing my anger inward, toward the Cubs, who gave up a 7-0 1st-inning lead like it meant absolutely nothing to anyone.

We were watching a sorely needed burst of offense at first, after a myriad of singles, walks, fielder’s choices, steals, and wild pitches that saw the whole lineup go once through the order, with only Happ not reaching base. It feels like for any other team this would be an automatic win, but not here. Jake Arrieta, relic of a bygone era, put up a really difficult performance, surviving only 1.2 innings. He allowed a single and walked three guys in the 1st to make it 7-1 — no big deal yet because we have plenty of insurance runs, am I right? Horribly wrong. A single and a home run against Arrieta made it 7-3 in the 2nd inning. Then there was the walk, three singles, and fielding error that led (though not Arrieta’s fault) to Patrick Wisdom leaving the game at first base with an injury after colliding with a Brewers batter. Rossy yanked him after that one.

Wisdom was replaced at first by Taylor Gushue, playing in his first MLB game at 27. Gushue will also be playing the role of backup catcher now, as he fills in for Jose Lobaton, now on the 60-day IL, where he joins with the guy HE was filling in for, Austin Romine. Time to pray Contreras won’t get injured.

As for the entire lineup getting that burst of offense early? It lasted only that one inning, as the Cubs wouldn’t be able to score a single run for the rest of the game. Instead, the Brewers ran rampant on poor Rex Brothers and Tommy Nance. Brothers gave up the winning run in the bottom of the 4th after allowing a walk, a double and a single. He was then replaced by Nance, who was even worse, hitting two guys, walking another, and letting another one single. It was 10-7 Brewers before Willy Adames hit a grand slam to make it 14-7.

Adam Morgan was given another look tonight, because at this point everyone recognized the game and likely the season was now lost. He gave up a solo homer to give us the final score of 15-7. Then Eric Sogard got to pitch to end the game, as nothing pleases the masses more than when that happens. Just awful.

The Cubs are now 6 games back of the Brewers and don’t have a prayer of catching up at the rate these guys are playing and getting injured. So why not duke it out against the Reds for second place this weekend? The Reds are one and a half games back of us at exactly .500. More losses here would just be the icing on the Cubs cake — becoming loveable losers once again. See you then, as always. Go Cubs go!

Baseball

Though the series started on a positive note, things sort of ended with a flop as the Cubs continue to struggle offensively, along with rolling out shaky starters who you can never completely trust to hold it together for a quality 5-6 innings. I’m not sure what exactly I expected out of this series, but I was certainly hoping for at least a split — obviously that didn’t happen as the Dodgers starters were able to shut down the Cubs offense for the most part. Let’s break these games down.

June 24, 2021
Cubs 4, Dodgers 0
WP: Davies (5-4) LP: Buehler (7-1)
Box Score

I must say, I was not confident in Zach Davies’ abilities at the posting of the last wrap, but he was finally able to put up a good game today — a combined no-hit game, in fact — against the Dodgers, and against Walker Buehler, whose ERA was over 1.00 points higher than Davies. However, he gave us a quality start of 6 innings, being a big part of the no-hitter tonight and striking out four batters. He also walked five people, something he definitely needs to work on, but it was all in all a solid outing for him.

Meanwhile, on the offensive front, our home-run-happy Cubs continued to hit some home runs, if you can believe that. Javier Baez started things off on the right foot in the 1st with a solo dinger, and then in the 6th Willson Contreras hit a home run of his own, scoring Bryant, who walked to start the inning off.

An offensive rally began in the 7th inning when Jason Heyward was able to hit a single, dashing to second base after an ugly Dodgers throwing error. He had two hits this game after being quite invisible offensively for most of the season.

Eric Sogard, the king of singles, was able to send Heyward to third base. And once again, the pinch hitters put up a hit, as Jake Marisnick hit for Davies and was able to poke one to the outfield, scoring Heyward. Pederson was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but after that a Bryant strikeout and a double play against Baez ended the inning.

Teamwork makes the dream work, as Ryan Tepera and Andrew Chafin both threw an inning each to keep the team no-hitter intact. Once again we were all blessed to watch a Craig Kimbrel save unfold before our very eyes, and there was a celebration abound as the Cubs threw the first combined no-hitter in MLB since 2019. Congrats to all.

June 25, 2021
Cubs 2, Dodgers 6
WP: Treinen (2-3) LP: Tepera (0-1)
Box Score

This game didn’t go nearly as well, as Jake Arrieta starts are wont to go these days. However, it wasn’t Arrieta on the hook with the loss this game, and he was able to stay in the game for 5.0 innings, which is…progress? He allowed five hits, three walks and two runs in his time on the mound, however, which can definitely be improved upon. He allowed a single in the second inning, and a steal and two groundouts that advanced a baserunner made it 1-1 at the bottom of the 2nd. (Kris Bryant hit a solo dinger during the second at-bat of the game.) Then Arrieta allowed a homer to start the 3rd inning to make it 2-1 Dodgers. A walk and a double put runners in scoring position, and an intentional walk loaded the bases with two outs, but he was able to lineout to end the inning.

Arrieta allowed no more runs in his time on the mound, but tonight the bullpen was not as sharp as it usually is. Keegan Thompson and Andrew Chafin combined to allow no hits in the 6th and 7th innings of the game, but it was Ryan Tepera and Tommy Nance who collapsed in the 8th inning, allowing two homers and four runs total between the two of them. Definitely a forgetful ending to this game, for sure.

June 26, 2021
Cubs 2, Dodgers 3
WP: Price (3-0) LP: Thompson (3-2)
Box Score

It was Alec Mills’ time to start in the rotation, and he only threw four innings, giving up hits almost immediately and wracking up eight total on the night. Two doubles in the bottom of the 1st put the Dodgers ahead immediately, and a wild pitch by Mills advanced Max Muncy to third base. It just took another single for the Dodgers to make it 2-0.

However, Mills gave up no more runs for the next three innings, thanks in part to Willson Contreras making one of a few highlight-reel plays for him this game. In the 2nd inning, he was able to catch Chris Taylor stealing third, getting the ball to Patrick Wisdom to throw him out. This inevitably saved the Cubs a run that would’ve put them in a 3-0 hole, as a groundout right after this ended the inning.

The rest of his start, Mills walked two pitchers and allowed three singles. It was once again Contreras keeping the Cubs in the game, picking off Chris Taylor yet again at third base in the 4th inning. Anthony Rizzo hit a solo homer the half-inning before, and it was Contreras’s defensive ability to allow the Cubs to tie the game just a half-inning later on two doubles from two players who’ve been a mess offensively all year: Jason Heyward and Ian Happ.

Heyward continued to produce, even hitting a solo homer in the top of the 7th to give the Cubs the lead…or did he? Not according to the officials, who decided to overturn the call on the field with no evidence that the ball went foul, and when the video review was similarly inconclusive, the overturned call stayed. Umps explaining calls to fans when?

That didn’t keep Heyward from being productive that at-bat, though, although the single he hit was much less than productive than the go-ahead homer would’ve been. The Cubs weren’t able to score in this situation, though, and it ended up being a game-deciding call, as the Dodgers walked it off in the 9th inning with a solo home run. This was definitely a game stolen in part by umping, and those are always tough ones to swallow.

June 27, 2021
Cubs 1, Dodgers 7
WP: Kershaw (9-7) LP: Alzolay (4-7)
Box Score

This game wasn’t stolen by umping by any means. Unfortunately, Adbert Alzolay had a tough night, as the game went off the rails in only the 2nd inning, when he loaded the bases through only walks and hit-by-pitches and then let Zach McKinstry hit a grand slam to make it 4-0. Javy Baez made a fielding error to allow Mookie Betts to reach after his at-bat and then Cody Bellinger hit another two-run homer in the same inning to make it 6-0 Dodgers. Alzolay was pulled after just three innings.

Baez tried to make up for his fielding gaffe by hitting a solo home run in the 4th inning, but by that time it didn’t seem feasible that the Cubs could come back from this. It would be the Cubs’ only run during the game, and one of only four hits—the other three came from Joc Pederson, Eric Sogard and Patrick Wisdom.

Tommy Nance and Rex Brothers came out of the bullpen to give guys like Tepera and Chafin some time off. Nance pitched three innings, allowing only three hits and striking out five batters. He gave up a run in the 6th inning to make it 7-1 Dodgers after allowing a Mookie Betts triple, but other than that he had a pretty good outing all things considered. Brothers pitched the other two innings and allowed no hits for the Dodgers.

The Cubs’ next couple of games couldn’t be more important as far as late-June baseball is concerned; they’re heading to Milwaukee to start the week with three games against the Brewers. Since the Cubs have been sliding, the Brewers are now 2.5 games ahead in the standings with a 43-33 record, first in the Central. If this team has a prayer of winning the division, they need to win AT LEAST two out of three to stay in the mix. Otherwise, the Brewers could easily pull way ahead of the entire division. (The third-place Reds are already 6 games back.)

From what I’ve seen, unfortunately, I just don’t think the Cubs can do it — not with this rotation and the offense in the freezer, falling back down to 28th in the league with a .224 team batting average. The Brewers have won five in a row (granted, against garbage teams like Arizona and Colorado), and they have solid pitching to go with it. Not only do they boast starters like Brandon Woodruff with a 1.89 ERA for the year, but they also have two other pitchers, Freddy Peralta and Corbin Burnes, who have a better ERA than Kyle Hendricks, who leads Cubs starters with a 3.84 ERA. Plus, the Brewers have Josh Hader, another incredibly talented closer like Kimbrel. It will be a tough test for the Cubs — let’s see if they survive. 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

Seriously though, I assume you all saw this with your psychic vision: the Mets have acceptable starting pitching, whereas the Cubs do not. It’s a 3.12 vs. a 3.72 ERA. Jacob deGrom played against Robert Stock of Literally Who status. deGrom was hurt, for God’s sake, and only pitched three innings, but it was enough to beat out the Cubs for the day. deGrom was also the only Mets starter to pitch less than 6 innings, which is how you can save your bullpen from getting overworked.

Seeing a team with good starting pitching makes me hope we’ll get some by the trade deadline, and hopefully the Cubs will produce more offensively on a regular basis to make a playoff push. Let’s break this series down and move on, shall we?

June 14, 2021
Cubs 2, Mets 5
WP: Peterson (2-5) LP: Arrieta (5-7)
Box Score

If you had any hope after last series that the starting pitching would continue to pleasantly surprise you, it’s probably time to take a step back. Jake Arrieta, loved by this city thanks to his contributions to the team from 2013-2017, is not who he used to be. As the season wears on, Arrieta’s ability to get to 6 innings pitched seems to dwindle, as three of his four six-inning games came in April and the last one he threw was on May 14.

Though it was a pitching duel for the first three innings, Arrieta broke down in the 4th inning when he gave up three runs against the Mets, allowing three hits and two walks, one intentional. Dominic Smith hit a solo home run off of him in the 5th inning before he got pulled between innings. Tommy Nance took over and allowed his first run of the season in his 13th appearance, after throwing two walks and allowing a single to score a runner to make it 5-0 Mets.

On the other side of the coin, the Cubs offense was nothing to speak of. A small rally was drummed up in the 7th inning after Anthony Rizzo and Patrick Wisdom hit back-to-back solo homers, but the pitching had already dug the Cubs in a hole that couldn’t be dug out of. The winning streak always has to end sometime.

June 15, 2021
Cubs 2, Mets 3
WP: Walker (6-2) LP: Mills (2-1)
Box Score

The Cubs didn’t look very good for this game either, not even leading for half an inning before the Mets were able to tie it up and then eventually take the lead entirely. Alec Mills started this game, his first appearance since May 15, and allowed five hits and all three runs on his time out, only lasting for 4.1 innings. He did, however, strike out six batters, so it certainly seems like he’s doing something…sort of right? If he can limit throwing pitches that players can crush and try to focus more on soft contact, perhaps the defense behind him can help him out in the future. He hasn’t pitched in a month, so I want to be sympathetic, but we also need quality outings from our starters and stat.

The rest of our bullpen once again gave us nothing to worry about — unless, of course, you’d like to worry about all the innings they’re being asked to throw. However, Rex Brothers, Keegan Thompson and Dan Winkler allowed no runs in their 0.2, 2.0 and 1.0 innings, respectively. They walked four batters altogether, though, which could probably be limited as well.

The most horrifying news of the day, however, was when Kris Bryant got hit by a pitch in the 1st inning and was almost immediately taken out of the game, replaced by Wisdom. Ironically, it was one of Bryant’s rare starts at third base, his “usual” position, as he’s been asked to pick up the slack for other injured players over most of the past month or so. Luckily, his x-rays seemed to come out negative, but the possibility of him sitting a game was likely.

The Cubs’ two runs came from Wisdom trading in his routine dingers for a single in the 3rd inning. Javier Baez took matters into his own hands the very next at-bat, hitting a home run to score them both. However, a walk, double and single at the bottom of the 3rd inning allowed the Mets to tie it, and a sac fly in the 5th inning gave them the lead they’d never give back.

June 16, 2021
Cubs 3, Mets 6
WP: Reid-Foley (2-0) LP: Stock (0-1)
Box Score

As soon as the lineups came out you knew what was coming with this one. The Cubs decided to start a 31-year-old pitcher named Robert Stock in his Cubs debut after only 51 major league appearances. And they had him pitch against Jacob deGrom, one of the best starters in baseball. deGrom, granted, was just coming off a start he left due to injury, but it only really took his three innings pitched for the Mets to establish themselves as the dominant team.

Stock was pulled up apparently because he was throwing 4 innings consistently in the minor leagues and was also hitting upwards of 100 mph. He was only able to throw his fastest pitch at 99 mph on his fastball in today’s outing, but that still might be something interesting to mix in with the Cubs’ entirely soft tossing rotation? However, he gave up four hits and five runs in his, again, 4-inning outing, and walked 6 players for an 11.25 ERA this season.

Anthony Rizzo hit a solo homer in the 4th, but other than that the Cubs weren’t able to figure out the Mets’ pitching, often leaving runners stranded on base if not getting struck out three times in a row like in the 2nd, 3rd AND 8th innings.

The Mets finished up their scoring by the 5th inning, where a solo homer made it 6-1 Mets. The Cubs ended up scoring two runs in the 9th inning after Wisdom walked and Rafael Ortega homered to drive them both home, but it wasn’t enough to overcome New York.

June 17, 2021
Cubs 2, Mets 0
WP: Hendricks (9-4) LP: Stroman (6-5)
Box Score

For the seventh start in a row, Kyle Hendricks was able to throw at least 6 innings, helping the Cubs get tonight’s win. When the Cubs have good starting pitching, they can almost always outhit their other problems, if they even have any. Although the Cubs’ bats weren’t super good this game, they once again faced a hot starter having a career year who struck out eight batters, walked only one and allowed four hits over 7 innings. Javier Baez produced the only runs of the game at the top of the 1st inning: with Kris Bryant (who luckily returned) singling before him, he was able to hit a dinger to center field to score them both. It would end up being all the Cubs needed — the other two hits for the Cubs all game long came from Joc Pederson and Jason Heyward, respectively.

The Mets were, for once, confounded by tonight’s pitching staff, only getting two hits the entire game, both off of Hendricks. The bullpen pitchers kept the Cubs in it as per usual around here, with Andrew Chafin allowing no hits and throwing a pretty nifty strikeout. Tepera had a strikeout, too, and Craig Kimbrel was able to come in and save the game, despite getting to a three-ball count a few times. Hopefully the Cubs can use this win, however meager it may seem, to help propel them back into a winning streak and help get some offense back.

The Cubs are finally getting an easy matchup this weekend against the Miami Marlins, down in the dumps of the NL East with a meager 29-39 record. The Marlins have won two of their last three series, but the series they won were against similarly garbage teams like the Braves and the Rockies. If there was ever a time to get out of an offensive funk, it’s now. Now that I’ve said that, the opposite will likely happen, but I don’t think a winning weekend series against this team is a lot for me to ask for. See you on the other side of it. 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!