Baseball

Well, the good news is that things are off to a better start than last season.

The Cubs reaped the benefits of the Brewers fumbling their Opening Weekend series, as their starters kind of threw three dud games in a row despite the lofty expectations from their fans and around the league. In addition, the surprising offensive performances by the Cubs were beyond any expectations I had, especially for this series against probable contenders.

What did not surprise me, however, was the tomfoolery that ensued in Saturday’s game with four players total getting hit by pitches and the benches-clearing “brawl” that commenced. The Brewers just love to hit the Cubs, especially Willson Contreras, and just about everyone has had enough of it, especially Willson Contreras. But the Cubs came up on top in the win column, which is truly all that matters. Fuck the Brewers, and to the bullets!

  • I wasn’t expecting much from Ian “Kirby” Happ to start the season, and made my feelings known in the preview. The Fels Motherfuck continues to haunt this website, however, as Happ made me look like a fool. He currently leads the team with five hits and has the best slash line on the team: .714/.778/1.778. He also has 4 RBIs, good for second on the team, and is the only player yet to strike out this season. Luckily for us the Brewers fucking drilled him in the knee with a pitch on Saturday and Rossy pulled him from the game as a precaution. He also didn’t play on Sunday, and though they were playing the B Team that day anyways, it’s obviously a bit of a concern. Hopefully Happer can continue to be a surprise offensive force, because we will need all the help we can get in that department to continue winning games.
  • Seiya Suzuki—what a guy. What plate discipline! He’s played in all three games so far this season in right field and has been an absolute pleasure to watch. I genuinely thought he’d look a bit worse to start the season off as he adjusted to MLB baseball, but he looks very comfortable here so far. His three-run bomb on Sunday was just about the only good thing I saw in the 5-4 loss, and he also leads the team with 6 RBIs. More, more, more please.
  • Our bullpen couldn’t suck more if it tried, God save us. With Codi Heuer, Brad Wieck and Adbert Alzolay on the 60-day IL, the only good/memorable pitching I’ve seen out of the pen has been from 37-year-old closer David Robertson, who collected his first save of the season on Thursday, and Keegan Thompson, who just got suspended three games for throwing at Andrew McCutchen (don’t talk to me about it, I’m still pissed). Jesse Chavez particularly was a tire fire on the mound on Sunday and couldn’t throw a strike to save his life, and when he did it was right down the middle and rocked for a home run. He gave up 3 runs in 0.2 innings pitched, good for a sparkling 40.50 ERA right now. Figure it out, people.
  • Marcus Stroman didn’t have a bad Cubs debut, and I loved that he caught a line drive on Sunday instead of ducking to avoid it like MLB pitchers are so very wont to do. He was able to execute a double play because of it, and I was pleased to see it.
  • The Cubs B Team Lineup (B for Bad, I guess) got rocked pretty hard on Sunday, especially on the offensive front. Alfonso Rivas, Suzuki, Yan Gomes, and Nico Hoerner had the only Cubs hits for the day. Suzuki was wholly responsible for 3 of the 4 Cubs runs, and the 4th and final Cubs run was scored by pinch hitter Patrick Wisdom after getting walked as the Brewers showed us they have the parts to make up a shitty bullpen as well (besides Josh Hader, who I will forever see in my nightmares). I will reserve my judgment for some of these Cubs for later on down the line, but it’s not looking great so far.

The Cubs season continues tomorrow with a back-to-back against the Pirates (1-2) and then they travel to Colorado for a weekend series against the Rockies (3-1) and Kris Bryant, who we will miss forever. After this performance against the Brewers I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cubs dropped a stinker or two this week, but I’m hoping they can build on this newfound offense and hopefully find a bullpen pitcher who can actually throw the ball. God willing.

Go Cubs go!

Baseball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baseball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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