Baseball

Now that we have over a week of baseball under our belts, the Cubs have begun to fall closer to where they were expected to be—tied for 2nd (with the Pirates?) in this shitty division with a 5-4 record. The Pirates no longer seem like the world’s easiest team to beat, and the Rockies look to have only about 3 men that can definitely be counted on for offense, so any Cubs issues with pitching seemed to just level themselves out in the end as the team went .500 overall this week.

While I’m still not inclined to say the offense is “fixed”—Coors Field is a hitting anomaly, after all—it still seems like the Cubs are getting the runs and offense they need from players across the board. I’m hoping that some of the dicey pitching we saw was also a Coors Field anomaly, though whenever we can get some of our regular guys healthy again, both in the rotation and the pen, would be incredibly helpful. To the bullets!

  • Kyle Hendricks didn’t look too good against the Pirates, allowing 7 hits and 6 runs in 3.2 innings, taking the loss for the team. He threw way less strikes than he did on Opening Day, and his number of swinging strikes between those two outings plummeted from 17 to 6—yikes. Though weak contact is Hendricks’s whole MO, we need all the strikes we can get from him now with the Cubs field being bereft of Gold Glove defensemen. He’ll be on the mound again tomorrow and hopefully give a better performance.
  • Seiya Suzuki’s two solo homers on Tuesday were the sole reason why the Cubs didn’t get swept entirely by the Pirates. If the team hadn’t signed him, this season would be a lot bleaker. But other teams have begun to catch on, especially to the fact that Suzuki absolutely refuses to swing at anything outside of the zone, and when he does swing, he’s dangerous. The Rockies intentionally walked him twice this series in big situations with runners on base, and his next at-bat last night after being intentionally walked gave him his 4th home run of the season. He’s no secret at the plate around the MLB, but that doesn’t seem to stop him from getting on base. Keep ‘em coming.
  • I was ready to throw the book at Patrick Wisdom, but it looks like he’s just going to continue to be his incredibly streaky self. He started out the season with only 1 hit in 23 plate appearances and a .048 batting average, but then racked up 6 hits in the final three games against the Rockies to bring it up to .233. If Wisdom can carry on his more recent streak of hitting well, that would be great, because when he’s not on it’s painful to watch, especially when he’s making mistakes in the field as well, which happens more often than any of us would prefer.
  • Any time Jonathan Villar did anything at shortstop on Thursday I just wished Javy Baez was back—did you ever really appreciate the crazy plays El Mago would make before he left? While Javy is a tough act to follow, sometimes Villar just couldn’t make those plays you took for granted. His one error of the season so far came at short on Thursday—it seems like 2nd base is where he should be playing from now on. He also had 8 hits this weekend while not even playing last night, which makes any smaller defensive fumbles easier to turn a blind eye to for now. And yes, those hits were still at Coors Field, and things could change at the drop of a hat, but for now it’s too early for me to judge him.
  • Kris Bryant had 5 hits this series, all of them beauties. They could’ve been for the Cubs. I miss him. Fuck Ricketts.

Next up this week the Cubs will play three games against the Rays and Pirates, two teams who are either at or just a hair above .500 this season. The Rays lost their weekend series against the White Sox, though their one win last night was a 9-3 crushing. Other than the Sox, the Rays have had what would seem like an easy schedule to start the year with games against the Orioles and Athletics, and yet are still coming out the other side at only .500, so that’s where that team’s at. Since we last saw the Pirates earlier this week, they won 3 of 4 games against the Nationals.

Go Cubs go!

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

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

The Cubs’ slump continues, but after last series I feel indifferent to this club. Why should I expect any more when our offense is sputtering and our starting pitchers just aren’t good enough? Now our bullpen is suffering too, after being overworked early on in the first half of the season. While the run earlier in the season was fun while it lasted, it’s really starting to look like a selloff is imminent, and maybe that’s for the best, because the team as it’s been the past few weeks isn’t very good at all.

July 2, 2021
Cubs 1, Reds 2
WP: Osich (1-0) LP: Mills (3-2)
Box Score

Things started out innocently enough, everyone looking okay through the first few innings as the Cubs seemed more evenly matched for the Reds, especially compared to the shellacking put to us by the Brewers in the last series. Alec Mills was throwing some nasty pitches, striking out four batters in the first two innings, totaling 9 strikeouts on the game after 5.2 innings pitched.

Ian Happ even got a hit in the 3rd inning, despite having one of the worst batting averages in the NL against lefties. Kris Bryant is back in the lineup, and he celebrated by going 2 for 4 for the night. His hit in the top of the 4th inning allowed Jason Heyward to bat him home on a double to put the Cubs up 1-0.

It would be the Cubs’ only run, as the wheels fell off the wagon just a few innings later at the bottom of the 6th, where Mills allowed a walk and a single to put runners on 1st and 2nd base. He was then yanked and replaced by Adam Morgan, who immediately gave up a double to make it 2-1 Reds; neither team decided it was necessary to score any more runs.

Dan Winkler and Andrew Chafin were able to hold the Reds to only one hit in the 8th and 9th innings, striking out three batters combined. But the Cubs pretty much gave up in the final innings of this game, allowing themselves to be struck out 4 times in 3 innings. The only time a hitter reached base was a Joc Pederson walk in the 7th, after a Cubs challenge about Willson Contreras grounding out was upheld on the field as an out.

July 3, 2021
Cubs 2, Reds 3
WP: Hendrix (4-1) LP: Alzolay (4-8)
Box Score

The Cubs’ losing streak extended to eight games, as the offense continues to be unable to follow through when runners are in scoring position, nor can they capitalize on games where the starters throw quality outings. This time it was Albert Alzolay, who pitched seven innings and allowed only 5 hits. Unfortunately, two of those were solo home runs, even though otherwise he had a pretty good outing. This is his fourth loss in a row, despite him not entirely deserving to have such a skid. By the end of the 7th inning, just before getting pulled, he allowed a walk, a double, and another single to score the Reds’ winning run, as the Cubs’ bats once again stopped working in the 8th and 9th innings.

The Cubs were able to score in the 2nd inning; Rafael Ortega came home on a passed ball after doubling earlier. In the 3rd inning, Kris Bryant’s solo homer made it 2-0 Cubs. In the 1st, 4th, 5th and 7th innings, the Cubs had runners in scoring position they didn’t convert on. Despite Bryant having three hits in five at-bats, there were only four other hits from the rest of the team that came from Rizzo, Conteras, Ortega and Eric Sogard. Without offense, the Reds were able to edge the team out in the 7th inning, after Joey Votto walked and Tyler Stephenson doubled to score him.

The bullpen of Brad Wieck and Craig Kimbrel only pitched one inning combined, but they of course allowed no hits. They allowed one walk total and struck out three batters. I guess the only bright side to this game is that a lot of the pen got the day off to rest, which is important since those games seem to be very few and far between for those poor pitchers.

July 4, 2021
Cubs 2, Reds 3
WP: Warren (2-0) LP: Winkler (1-1)
Box Score

The Cubs were able to celebrate the founding of America by activating Nico Hoerner off the injured list, finally. He was not very helpful on the offensive front, with no hits and a strikeout where he chased a ball that no one could hit. However, he was effective when needed defensively on the field, as he was part of an inning-ending double-play in the 5th inning to keep the Cubs’ one-run lead intact.

On the offensive front, the Cubs had plenty of hits but not a lot of runs to show for it. Patrick Wisdom, Hoerner and Ian Happ were the only players who went without a hit this game, with Contreras, Baez, Rizzo and Jake Marisnick having two.

Kyle Hendricks pitched well, giving the Cubs another quality start with 5 hits and only one run allowed in 6 innings. The Cubs gave him the minimum amount of effort needed offensively to let him walk away without taking the loss, which was oh so kind of them.

The bullpen, however, seemed to be a different story. Dan Winkler was the first pitcher up, and immediately gave up a single, a hit by pitch and another single to load the bases. After a forceout, Winkler hit another batter, allowing the tying run to score. He was replaced by Andrew Chafin in a bases loaded, one-out situation, and a ground ball forceout was all it took for the Reds to score one more player in order to put them in the lead 3-2.

The Cubs were unable to come back; for the rest of the game only three guys got on base and only one of those situations was a hit, an Eric Sogard single. Ian Happ walked earlier that same inning in the 9th, but Willson Contreras grounded into a double play, ending the game.

The Cubs could’ve made the most of this Reds series, but they didn’t, and now they slip to 3rd place in the Central. The Cubs now look forward to playing nothing but sub-.500 teams all the way through the end of the month, as a four-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies awaits them starting tonight and going through all next week. Then they get a series against the Cardinals, the Diamondbacks, and the Cardinals again before facing Cincinnati at the end of the month. You can’t really drop any of those Cardinals games, and there’s no excuses to not win against the Diamondbacks. The Phillies should in theory be easy opponents as well.

If the Cubs were going to end their slump and get hot again, now is the time to do it. Fail against these teams and there’s no question it’ll be a selling deadline. Sit back and get ready to watch some sub-par baseball! 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

The good times can never last long for this Cubs team, and after watching this series against the Giants, who are as of today the best team in the MLB, one thing is for certain: we need a starting pitcher to make that jump up to be in the elite group of the best teams in the league. And if I recall correctly WE HAD ONE. So thanks, Ricketts family.

Another series starts tonight so let’s get this review of mostly terrible games over with.

June 3, 2021
Cubs 2, Giants 7
WP: DeSciafani (5-2) LP: Davies (2-3)
Box Score

The win streak can’t go on forever, and the Cubs reminded us of that. Our bats got stymied, only getting five hits all game. The two runs we garnered were in the 3rd inning to take the lead and it was on a 2-run homer by Joc Pederson.

Just an inning later in the 4th, the Giants tied it up, and the inning after that consisted of Zach Davies getting pulled after allowing two singles and a walk in a one out situation. The highlight of my boyfriend’s night was listening to me say “he’d have to hit a 3-run homer here to blow the game open and he won’t” while listening to the game on the radio and then five seconds later Brandon Crawford hitting a 3-run homer there to blow the game open.

The Cubs wouldn’t come back, and there were plenty of fielding errors and poor pitching for everyone involved that the game was over by the end of the 5th inning. Zach Davies still sucks, if you’re wondering, playing only 4.1 innings and allowing 8 hits and 4 runs. The bullpen was also uncharacteristically bad, allowing three runs and two walks. Brad Wieck pitched the 8th, however, and allowed no hits and had a strikeout.

June 4, 2021
Cubs 5, Giants 8
WP: Menez (1-0) LP: Arrieta (5-6)
Box Score

At first it seemed like things would be better this game, especially when you start things off with a two-run homer by Kris Bryant. However, Jake Arrieta did the equivalent of spitting up all over himself in the 2nd inning, allowing—count ‘em—6 total runs in those two innings. He ended his outing at the end of the 2nd inning after throwing 58 pitches. It was obvious Rossy really didn’t want to pull him early; multiple mound visits were made to try to slow things down, but it didn’t matter because he just kept getting hit off of. After a 2-out, full-count situation, the Giants put the nails in our metaphorical coffin with a three-run home run to make it 6-2 San Francisco. The Cubs would never get the lead back. It came out after the game that Arrieta had food poisoning before his start and that’s why he did so poorly. Again, if we had a solid starting pitcher, this wouldn’t have been as big a problem as it was.

Then it was Keegan Thompson’s time to shine. Things couldn’t get any worse, right? He allowed two hits and two runs in his two innings out. He walked two batters, but he also struck out five. During this time, the Cubs tried to make it close by scoring two runs in the top of the 4th, thanks to a walk by Patrick Wisdom who was batted in by a Joc Pederson home run. However, in the bottom of the inning, Thompson gave up back-to-back home runs and a walk before he was able to strike out three batters in a row to end the inning.

The Cubs were able to score one more run in the game in the 5th inning, after a Giants throwing error allowed Willson Contreras to advance to 3rd base and Javier Baez batted him in while grounding out himself. Winkler, Wieck, Nance and Maples all pitched one respective inning out of the bullpen, and they allowed two total hits between them, two walks, and three strikeouts.

Because the fun can never end, there was also an argument caught on camera between Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras in the dugout of this game. I feel like everyone has talked this story to death, so I’ll skip over it for the most part. I’d be pissed off too if I was losing big games like this in this capacity.

June 5, 2021
Cubs 3, Giants 4
WP: Gausman (7-0) LP: Stewart (1-1)
Box Score

Things continued to be more of the same for the Cubs again this series, as they were the ones to go ahead early in the game, this time through a home run by Patrick Wisdom, before pretty promptly coughing it up thanks to the starting pitching. This time it was Kohl Stewart starting because why not at this point? How much worse could he be than the rest of the rotation? He only went 3.2 innings while giving up 7 hits and 3 runs. After allowing a solo home run in the 3rd, he allowed a walk, two singles, a sacrifice bunt and another single in the 4th inning to let the Giants take the lead 3-2, which they once again would never surrender to the Cubs. He was replaced by Tommy Nance in that inning, who was able to get out of it without another Giants hit.

The rest of the bullpen did well, with Winkler allowing the only other run of the game; it was a double that scored a batter who walked earlier in the inning. The fun news out of the bullpen today was that we saw a NEW PITCHER CALLUP in Cory Abbott, who pitched two innings and didn’t look half bad. He only allowed one hit and one walk in his time up, and he even struck out a batter. Tepera closed things out, allowing no hits.

Obviously, the damage had already been done. The Cubs tried their best to rally in the 9th inning, where Rizzo was able to capitalize on a Giants fielding error to allow Bryant, who was able to stay on base after a challenge, to score. Baez had also singled, and with two outs Baez and Rizzo both stole bases to get into scoring position. But Jason Heyward, finally activated after his injury and playing today, unfortunately grounded out to end the game.

June 6, 2021
Cubs 4, Giants 3
WP: Hendricks (7-4) LP: Cueto (4-2)
Box Score

The Cubs at least were able to win one, coming from behind to win a close game, but it looked a bit dicey at first. Kyle Hendricks gave up a solo homer in the 1st inning, and then allowed a single, a walk, and another single to allow the Giants to go up 2-0.

Patrick Wisdom was the offensive hero tonight, as he launched yet another homer in the 2nd inning to put the Cubs within one. However, the bottom of the inning saw Hendricks give up two doubles to give the Giants a 3-1 lead. Ian Happ and catcher PJ Higgins were able to make a huge throw to home plate afterward, however, to get the tag at home and end the inning with minimal offensive damage.

Patrick Wisdom homered, again, in the 4th inning and scored Happ, who doubled earlier. But the 5th inning was when the Cubs really became the Cubs. Kyle Hendricks hit a double, which was truly astonishing, and then Rizzo singled and Baez reached first base on a fielder’s choice, scoring Hendricks to make it 4-3 Cubs.

Additionally, Hendricks lasted 6.1 innings on the mound, allowing 7 hits and 5 strikeouts. 6.1 innings out of a Cubs starter is rare these days, and the defense was obviously solid behind him. The bullpen was back to being nails, allowing only 2 hits in 2.2 innings. Kimbrel came in to get the save — with two strikeouts, of course.

The Cubs certainly didn’t look as sharp for this series as they had in series past, but hopefully today’s win will allow them to turn things around as they go back to face the Padres again this week, this time in San Diego. The Padres just split a series with the Mets but got walloped yesterday 6-2. They are also still sporting a 14-player injured list, making their lineup about as easy as it gets for the Cubs to play against.

It should be noted the Cubs are a bit injured too, as Joc Pederson got hurt again this series, Baez exited last night’s game with thumb soreness and may or may not be in the game, Marisnick and Hoerner are still out with hamstring injuries, David Bote’s still out, and Trevor Williams is still recovering from his appendectomy, although the rotation wouldn’t be much better if he was still on it. The Padres, however, don’t have SECRET WEAPON NL PLAYER OF THE WEEK Patrick Wisdom, so they should fear us. All jokes aside, we should absolutely be riding Wisdom as the hot hand until his numbers come back to earth along with the rest of this team. Go Cubs go!

Baseball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The fun starts now. Go Cubs go!

Baseball

I have returned from the boonies of southern Ohio, where I was constantly asking other people for their phones with better data than mine to check the score of each Cubs/Cards game. Two out of three wins ain’t bad for a Cubs team that was sitting at the bottom of the NL Central not too long ago. (Also, shoutout to the White Sox across town for slowing down the Cards enough this week so we could tie them for 1st place. Really couldn’t get a sweep there though?)

The Pirates are still garbage, despite the distant memory of them making us look like fools in the beginning of the season. The Cubs are finally on a roll and made this sweep look pretty easy, although that’s because it was for the most part. Let’s break these games down.

May 25, 2021
Cubs 4, Pirates 3
WP: Arrieta (5-4) LP: Cody Ponce (0-1)
Box Score

The Cubs started this game off with a spectacular passed ball by P.J. Higgins, filling in for the injured Willson Contreras. This happened after Jake Arrieta allowed a single and a double in the first two at-bats of the game. Another single allowed the Pirates to go up 2-0, and by the 2nd inning Arrieta still didn’t have a handle on things. He allowed a double, hit a batter and then allowed a single to make things 3-0 Pirates.

It was singlehandedly Joc Pederson who came to save the day for the Cubs. He hit two home runs, one a solo shot in the 3rd and one a two-run homer to tie the game. Then the old guard came up to bat to take back the lead, as Javier Baez doubled and Anthony Rizzo batted him in with a single.

Then, Nico Hoerner got hurt. It is yet another nasty hamstring injury for the Cubs, as the injury beast continues to ravage this team. Eric Sogard was his replacement, of course. Additionally, Matt Duffy also sat for this game for injury-related reasons, so you know that can only mean seeing even more fresh faces for this fielding group.

Shortly after this injury delay, Keegan Thompson went in to replace Arrieta after 5 innings pitched, 3 runs, a walk, and 7 strikeouts. Thompson threw 1.2 innings and looked pretty nice, allowing no hits and only two walks. Andrew Chafin immediately allowed a double but was able to get out of the two-out jam with a strikeout. Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel pitched the 8th and 9th innings, respectively, allowing only 1 hit between the two of them and allowing the Cubs to squeak past this one with a win, pulling one game behind the 1st-place Cardinals.

May 26, 2021
Cubs 4, Pirates 1
WP: Williams (3-2) LP: Crowe (0-3)
Box Score

This game was a duel of pitchers playing against their old teams, as both Trevor Williams and Duane Underwood Jr. saw significant time today. Pirates starter Wil Crowe only lasted 1.1 innings, where he allowed 5 hits and three of four Cubs runs on the day. He only had one strikeout to his name before Underwood Jr. was called in to take his place, playing the next 3.2 innings and only giving up one hit throughout that span.

The Cubs were able to get up big in the 2nd inning thanks to the aforementioned ugly pitching by the Pirates. Thanks to having Jake Marisnick, Jason Heyward and now Hoerner on the 10-day IL, the Cubs called up Rafael Ortega to play center field today, where he was walked by Crowe and then was sent home thanks to a two-run homer by David Bote. The Pirates then allowed two Cubs singles, got a flyout, and allowed a Kris Bryant single to score Sogard to make it 3-0 Cubs.

After this starter’s meltdown by the Pirates, the pitchers on both teams were able to limit runs. The Cubs didn’t only get one hit until the 6th inning, where a double and two singles scored Eric Sogard again, giving the Cubs another insurance run. Trevor Williams finally got a win against his former team, pitching 6.0 innings against his former team, allowing only three hits and one run, striking out 7 batters. His only run came in the 8th inning after he allowed a double and a single to start things off. However, a double play and a strikeout kept things from going sideways for the Cubs.

Tommy Nance pitched an inning today, doing pretty well with no hits, a walk, and a strikeout. The last three Cubs pitchers were able to all but completely shut down the Pirates, allowing only two hits total and striking out four batters. Craig Kimbrel was up to his old tricks, closing things up for the team easily.

May 27, 2021
Cubs 5, Pirates 3
WP: Hendricks (3-4) LP: Anderson (3-5)
Box Score

The Pirates tried their best to recover after their hilariously unacceptable fielding blunder in the 3rd inning, after we all watched decision making skills on the field that were so poor I hadn’t seen anything similar since playing tee ball. And that play alone certainly cost the Pirates the game — if they had just…stepped on first base, the Pirates’ three home runs later on in the game would’ve been enough to at least send this to extra innings. Ian Happ’s single, which was another fielding atrocity in and of itself, ended up scoring Javy Baez after he made MLB headlines with that baserunning, giving the Cubs a lead they would never give back.

In other news, Kyle Hendricks was at least able to play seven innings. He probably wouldn’t have played as long against any other team, but the Pirates are still on another level of horrific in our division and because of it Hendricks was able to comfortably give up six hits and three solo home runs without giving up the lead. Dan Winkler and Ryan Tepera were the bullpen appearances, striking out two, walking two, and only allowing one hit between them.

From a hitting standpoint for the Cubs, Kris Bryant is still playing at MVP levels, homering as the second batter in the 1st inning to start the game off on the right foot and grounding into a double play that ended up scoring Eric Sogard. In addition, Anthony Rizzo sat out his second straight game due to more muscular strain. One of the many new faces who have appeared recently to fill in the growing number of fielding gaps was Patrick Wisdom, whose full count solo homer in the 4th was overshadowed by the fielding debacle the inning before but was a pretty nifty one.

The Cubs play the Reds this weekend, who are at the bottom of the NL standings if you pretend the AAA-level Pirates don’t exist. The Cubs will need to rack up points against the Reds because they play the Padres next week who are 32-19 and atop the NL West. The Reds are similarly banged up with players going on IL and having knee surgeries and all kinds of tough stuff. In addition, the Reds will be giving a pitcher his big league debut tomorrow, so we’ll see him and hopefully not any more of Amir Garrett, because I’ve had about enough of him since the last series.

See you then, and go Cubs go!