Baseball

If you thought the Cubs were just gonna step onto Wrigley Field against the first-place team in the entire MLB, featuring Kris Bryant, and look like a competent team, you would be sorely mistaken. The Cubs’ recent good fortune came at the hands of other disgraceful teams in the MLB, and now that they faced off against a World Series contender we all saw that just about everyone at every position won’t be good enough to make up a playoff team next year, no matter what anyone else may try to tell you.

To turn into a playoff team next year means just about everything has to go right, AND the Rickettses need to open their checkbooks to sign some stellar pitching. Who knows to what extent—if any—the Rickettses will feel like paying players next year. And I would well and assume KB, Baez or Rizzo will NOT be signing with this team next year; Bryant’s tribute video and ceremony all but cemented that with all the absurdity that happened there.

And so this might be the caliber of team we’re stuck with for the foreseeable future and it’s not gonna a fun experience, as this series showed. Sorry you had to watch it; at least we won that one ring that one year, huh?

September 10, 2021
Cubs 1, Giants 6
WP: Doval (2-1) LP: Megill (1-1)
Box Score

There were farcical shenanigans going on before the game even began, with the Ricketts family doing everything to honor Kris Bryant for the fans, except for, y’know, signing him to a contract, which would just be too expensive. It also seemed to be too expensive to have someone iron out the creases of the World Series flag they gave him after his tribute video, which is similarly absurd. Congrats to Kris Bryant for successfully extricating himself from this dreck.

As for the game, Kyle Hendricks was the starter who did all he could and then some to keep the Cubs in this game, pitching six total innings and allowing only one run, four hits, and four strikeouts. A solo homer from Frank Schwindel in the 4th inning put the Cubs on top for exactly 1.5 innings before a couple of hits against Hendricks in the 6th allowed the Giants to tie it.

In the 7th inning, it was Trevor Megill out of the bullpen who then allowed three straight hits, one of them a home run, to bring the Giants back on top. They of course would never give the Cubs the game back. Despite Trevor Megill getting yanked, his replacement, Michael Rucker, also gave up a home run to make it 5-1, and then a single and sac fly in the 8th made the game its final score of 6-1.

September 11, 2021
Cubs 4, Giants 15
WP: Gausman (14-5) LP: Davies (6-11)
Box Score

This game was such an utter disaster that I don’t even want to talk about it. Zach Davies still sucks, by the way.

September 12, 2021
Cubs 5, Giants 6
WP: Webb (10-3) LP: Steele (3-3)
Box Score

At least we saw some fight in this one. It was young, still relatively-inexperienced Justin Steele vs. Logan Webb, one of the best pitchers in the NL. Though they pitched almost the same amount of innings (Webb’s six against Steele’s five), Steele gave up almost twice as many hits. However, the rest of their pitching stats were strikingly similar with the same amount of walks, runs and Steele just having one less strikeout. Not that it means anything.

In the 4th inning, Ortega was able to get a triple after the Giants’ Austin Slater completely missed catching the pop fly at center field. Schwindel RBI’d him in, and then Ian Happ later in the inning hit yet another solo homer to breathe a little bit of life into the Cubs. Unfortunately, it would only be one half-inning later when Steele gave up a two-run homer to make it 5-2 Giants.

In the 5th inning, yet another goof by Slater gave David Bote a triple, after he and Kris Bryant collided while both trying to catch the fly ball, which meant neither of them caught the ball. Nick Martini drove in Bote to make it 5-3, but still the Cubs continued to be a step behind the Giants offensively.

Things got heated up in the 7th inning when the Cubs hit themselves into a bases loaded situation down only one run and with only one out, thanks to hits from Bote, Robinson Chirinos, Schwindel and Happ. But Tyler Rogers, the Giants’ pitcher out of the pen, was able to pitch his way out of it with two straight strikeouts to keep the Giants’ lead. His pitches were beyond nasty and difficult to predict where they’d land, especially when it was Contreras, 0-3 on the night, and Alfonso Rivas that were tasked with getting a hit off of him. Plus, Codi Heuer’s wild pitch the half-inning before had allowed Bryant to score and give the Giants 6 runs and the win over the Cubs.

The Cubs are off today, but will be back to take on the Phillies this week, a team currently mired in mediocrity. The Phillies most recently lost a series to the Rockies, and you have to be actively trying to be bad to do that successfully. Perhaps the Cubs can win some meaningless games here; perhaps not. See you then and 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

The Cubs came into this series on an eleven-game losing streak, the second losing streak that long of the year. They’ve been getting skulled by teams that are playing any type of meaningful baseball, most recently getting swept by the Miami Marlins, despite the Miami Marlins being 4th in the NL East and eleven games back.

And yet, the Cubs came in against a theoretically-playoff-caliber Reds team and won their first series since the July 25, before the trade deadline, if you can remember back that far. Led by pitching marvel Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs continued their momentum through to this afternoon’s game. Ian Happ ended yesterday’s game with the winning homer and started this game out with a homer that began a deluge of offense for a team that has sorely needed some. Nowadays we will take the little victories.

August 16, 2021
Cubs 5, Reds 14
WP: Miley (10-4) LP: Steele (2-2)
Box Score

It was Justin Steele’s second career start, and he did just about as well numbers-wise as his last start against the Brewers. Despite five strikeouts in four innings, he also allowed five hits and two runs, and the Cubs offense were showing us they didn’t have what it took to even make this game a close one.

The homer Steele gave up was a two-run homer in the bottom of the 4th after allowing a walk. Up until then, he had been keeping the score at zero and even impressively getting himself out of a jam in the 3rd inning. With no outs and runners on the corners, Steele struck out two in a row and forced weak contact to get the third out.

Things got marginally worse when Michael Rucker replaced Steele on the mound in the 5th inning. Once again it was a walk and a two-run homer that doubled the hole the Cubs found themselves in. Despite this, he stayed in an inning longer, and that homer was the only hit he gave up.

As for the offense, there was none to speak of until the 8th inning, when they decided they wanted to score runs on a completely different Reds team—between innings, Cincinnati had replaced their pitcher, first baseman, right fielder and shortstop to give their best guys some rest during their current playoff push. It was a no-brainer after the Reds scored EIGHT runs the inning before, making it 12-0 mostly thanks to the antics of Dan Winkler on the mound and Rucker not getting any outs to start the inning either.

The Cubs scored five during what was essentially a minor league game to close things out, highlighted by an Ian Happ double—he’s been struggling so much this season that any hit by him is a means for half-hearted celebration. It seemed like just about the entire lineup went up to bat, and the ones who didn’t get a hit were Patrick Wisdom, David Bote, and Sergio Alcantara. The Reds piled on a few more in the bottom of the 8th, however, to render things even more meaningless than they were before.

August 17, 2021
Cubs 2, Reds 1
WP: Hendricks (14-5) LP: Gutierrez (8-4)
Box Score

The Cubs finally snapped their 12-game losing streak with this game, which you’d have to be really incompetent not to do with Kyle Hendricks on the mound. He went four innings without allowing a hit, giving up only three walks and having three strikeouts to boot. Arguably the best player on this new Cubs team, he now leads all starting pitchers in the league with wins in 14.

Hendricks’s first jam came in the 5th inning, with a walk and a single putting runners on first and second. This would be the first time all game a Reds runner was in scoring position; despite this, a strikeout and a groundout ended the inning for the Reds, who just couldn’t figure out Hendricks. Nick Castellanos, the Cub That Got Away, hit a solo homer in the 6th, but that was the only run the Reds would score all game.

Meanwhile, some offense from Frank Schwindel—who’s on a six-game hitting streak, by the way—helped bat in Rafael Ortega who absolutely hauled ass from first base to make it happen. Happ continued his offensive streak by hitting a solo homer in the 6th, which ended up being the winning run for this Cubs team.

In a whirlwind of big-brain pitching, Rowan Wick loaded up the bases in the 7th inning as relief for Hendricks. Surprisingly to everyone, Wick got two strikeouts to keep the bases loaded and no additional runs scored. Rossy, however, knew he wasn’t gonna keep playing with this fire, replacing Wick with Adam Morgan, who got Joey Votto of all people to ground out and end the inning, keeping the Cubs ahead.

We also saw some good stuff from Codi Heuer, who came in and closed out the last two innings for the Cubs. He allowed no hits and struck out two batters in a pretty impressive performance, although the bar here is quite low and I will reserve my long-term judgment until I see more.

August 18, 2021
Cubs 7, Reds 1
WP: Rodriguez (1-2) LP: Mahle (10-4)
Box Score

Another win the Cubs needed, and it’s made all the more sweeter since it meant putting the Reds now two games back of the second wild card spot. (Though with Yu Darvish injured, will the Padres be able to hold on?) The offensive deluge coming from the Cubs instead of against the Cubs was also a welcome change for those of us watching.

Only Matt Duffy and Frank Schwindel didn’t have hits in this game out of all the position players; the offense was spread out pretty evenly throughout the lineup, and home runs were pretty plentiful by all. Ian Happ’s solo homer in his second straight game led things off for the Cubs, while Michael Hermosillo homered today as well in his second big-league game this season, which makes for a good story.

Things really got away from the Reds early on, as the 2nd inning saw a walk, Hermosillo’s homer, a single, a sac bunt, a single and a double as just about the entire lineup got an appearance against Tyler Mahle, who had a pretty awful game and gave up the majority of the runs. The Reds’ bullpen wasn’t stellar, either, giving up four hits and two more runs in five innings, including a Sergio Alcantara home run in the 6th.

The offense came at a good time for Adrian Sampson, who made his season debut on the mound as the starter after not playing in the MLB since 2019. Although he only pitched four innings, that’s sort of the way things go for this team as Rossy and Co. try to stretch out pitchers and see who could have the wherewithal to be a starter on an actual major league team, which this isn’t. Despite allowing five hits, Sampson gave up only one run, no walks and struck out two batters. Though this didn’t put him in line for the win, it wasn’t an awful appearance overall.

The bullpen allowed only one hit, and it was in the 9th inning by Trevor Megill. The pen also had eight strikeouts today, a pretty obscene number. Despite Rowan Wick’s shaky performance yesterday, today’s inning-long appearance by him wasn’t too shabby and kept his 0.00 ERA (???) intact.

It’s good to win a few, and the fun continues as the Cubs visit the Kansas City Royals, who are somehow worse than us and a team I’d equate to the gum stuck on the bottom of my shoe. (Of course now that I say that, the Cubs will drop all three games. Please don’t do this to me, baseball gods.)

The story, of course, is that Keegan Thompson is getting called back up again to make his first-ever MLB start as the Cubs continue to examine their pitchers in the system. Hopefully the momentum keeps rolling and the Cubs can at least get a win that day for his first career start. The bar is still quite low here. See you then, and go Cubs go!