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

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!

Baseball

It’s not good when a team like the Nationals, who also sold any good player that existed on their lineup over the trade deadline, ends up beating you in the series. We have some dark days ahead with this team.

In the meantime, Rafael Ortega has decided this is his team now, as he cements himself as the new leadoff hitter for the club while garnering eight hits and batting in eight runs this series, including today’s three-homer effort. That’s him being directly responsible for 57% of the Cubs’ total runs this series, if you’re keeping track. Despite considering him a below-average outfielder, he’s the only reason the Cubs were even kind of in this series at all, so he deserves some recognition.

Patrick Wisdom is also making some good plays at first base, since we all need some good news. Unfortunately, he was also a part of some ugly plays like in today’s game when the ball was hit right past him despite his diving effort to stop it from getting to the outfield. Hopefully with some more time on first base regularly he will get the hang of things and be more reliable there.

July 30, 2021
Cubs 3, Nationals 4
WP: Espino (3-2) LP: Arrieta (5-10)
Box Score

Yep, we’re back to playing Jake Arrieta now after trading Trevor Williams and until players like Keegan Thompson and Justin Steele are “stretched out” enough to start, as the Marquee announcers can’t stop reminding us. Arrieta, as usual, only pitched four innings and allowed 7 hits and 2 runs during his tenure on the mound. One of those hits was a homer in the 2nd inning that gave the Nationals the lead, and then an error in the 3rd inning gave the Nats the 2-1 lead, as the throw to first was unable to be completed on an infield hit.

Rafael Ortega started his tear in the 3rd inning as he doubled to score new full-time shortstop Sergio Alcantara, who doubled earlier in the game as well. However, the Cubs allowed a home run in the 5th inning off of new pitcher Michael Rucker, and in the 6th inning a fly ball to Ortega in center field went way over his head when he tried to catch it, allowing for a base hit and a 4-1 Nats lead.

The Cubs tried to get back in it in the 8th inning, when Patrick Wisdom was able to hit a ball past the third baseman into left field to score Ortega and Contreras. Despite Heyward singling in the 9th inning, the Cubs batted into a double play and a diving catch by the Nats’ shortstop kept Sergio Alcantara from extending the game.

July 31, 2021
Cubs 6, Nationals 3
WP: Hendricks (13-4) LP: Ross (5-9)
Box Score

Ortega again started things off in the 1st inning by singling; he then stole 2nd base when Ian Happ predictably struck out swinging. Wisdom then hit the ball to right field, the outfielder just missing the catch and giving Ortega the chance to score.

Kyle Hendricks, additionally, was the starter who won his 11th straight game for the Cubs. Things were a little tense to begin his outing, though, as he allowed a fly ball to Yadiel Hernandez, one that neither Happ nor Ortega could field properly, allowing the Nats to tie things up quickly. Luckily, Hendricks was all but nails for the rest of his time out, allowing no more runs and pitching for 7 full innings, ending the day with only four hits allowed and a walk with three strikeouts.

The Cubs broke the game open in the 4th inning after a deluge of offense from some unlikely (and new) faces. David Bote doubled to start things off, hitting a ball to far left field. Later, Sergio Alcantara hit another ball to far left to score Bote, which the Nats’ outfielder also failed to catch. Andrew Romine (yes, older brother of Austin Romine, because Chicago sports teams can’t seem to stop acquiring brothers to put in the lineup together) had his second hit of the night, a double to score Alcantara. Then Ortega hit another home run, as he is wont to do these days, to give the Cubs a commanding 5-1 lead by the end of the inning. Jason Heyward even joined in on the offensive fun, driving in David Bote in the 7th to make it 6-1.

As soon as Kyle Hendricks was pulled in the 8th, Rex Brothers gave up his usual deluge: a double, a walk, a single, and another single to make it 6-2 Nationals. With no outs. So it became time to bring up Codi Heuer, the reliever from the White Sox we received in exchange for Craig Kimbrel (and really the only player we traded for who can currently play in the MLB). Heuer has a lot to prove among Cubs fans; he was okay in his rookie season last year but looks much worse this season, with a 5.12 ERA and his 22 runs allowed in 40 games started…yeeikes.

Despite being put in a bases loaded situation with zero outs, Heuer got the job done with the help of the defense behind him. He got the Nats batter to ground into a force out, as Bote threw the ball to Contreras to get the out at home. Heuer then gave up a sacrifice fly ball to center field, with Ortega making the catch. Then, he gave up a ground ball that was easily fielded to Wisdom from Romine. The Cubs made a successful double play to end the game with a win.

August 1, 2021
Cubs 5, Nationals 6
WP: Finnegan (4-2) LP: Rodriguez (0-1)
Box Score

Ortega started this rainy game off with a solo homer, because of course he did. A groundout and two strikeouts later, however, ended the inning with no more offense. Robinson Chirinos, the catcher of the day, had a line drive robbed by a Nats outfielder in the 2nd, and a strikeout after him by Alcantara kept the score 1-0.

It was not Adbert Alzolay’s day, as he had an especially difficult third inning. A single and a sacrifice bunt put a runner on second base. Then an intentional walk and a Josh Bell single scored two more Nationals runs. Josh Bell’s single was a nightmare, a catastrophe of epic proportions for the Cubs defense. The ball was hit to left, thrown to home by Happ to try and stop the home plate runner, but thrown wildly off base, so Chirinos threw to second, also off base, allowing Juan Soto to score also because nobody was covering home…I shudder just thinking about this play. We are bad. Let’s move on.

Another Nats single scored one more runner, a wild pitch advanced Yadiel Hernandez to second base, Luis Garcia was walked, and finally Alzolay was able to strike out Carter Kieboom to end the 3rd. Alzolay only pitched five innings, allowing seven hits and four of the six Nationals runs. He walked four batters and struck out four as well. But thanks to the Cubs not exactly giving up offensively, he was off the hook for the loss.

Bote had multiple grounders and line drives fly right past him at second base today, which is painful to watch. Josh Bell just one inning later in the 4th hit the ball right over him, scoring Rene Rivera to make it 4-1 Nats in a bases-loaded situation.

Romine got himself on first base with the 6th inning, and Ortega homered him home to make it a one-run game, the Cubs suddenly only trailing 4-3. Adam Morgan got the outs necessary in the 6th to keep things rolling, but it was Kyle Ryan who gave up a solo homer to Yadiel Hernandez in the 7th to extend the Nats’ lead. Ortega once again homered — his THIRD of the game, if you’re counting — to score two more Cubs runners in the 8th inning to tie it, putting the offense of his team solely on his back in amazing fashion and for now making up for his iffy play in the outfield.

Heuer was again put in for the 8th inning today, and gave up a single, a sac bunt and an intentional walk before Alcantara and Wisdom threw themselves a double play to end the inning. A bit of a shaky appearance, but don’t worry, this was totally worth Craig Kimbrel. Manuel Rodriguez, pitching in his second-ever MLB game, replaced Heuer in the bottom of the 9th, and he gave up a leadoff solo homer to Hernandez to give the Nats the walk-off win.

Life rolls on aimlessly for the Cubs as they face the Colorado Rockies this week, another garbage team who didn’t trade Trevor Story at the deadline and therefore threw their organization into even more internal turmoil than it was already in. The Cubs are still trying to find their footing post-deadline, so having another weak opponent is…good, I guess?

The secret to winning for the Cubs will probably be getting offense from people not named Rafael Ortega, but Ortega should continue his home run tear if he can help it. The lost season continues; see you soon. Go Cubs go!

Baseball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everything Else

I hope everyone had a good All-Star Break. I moved apartments and was living life out of half-unpacked boxes and no wifi for six days. Luckily, I didn’t miss anything memorable outside of Willson Contreras having a small meltdown and the trading of Joc Pederson (what a replacement for Kyle Schwarber that turned out to be). The Cubs return from the break to face the Arizona Diamondbacks — a more even matchup than what may have been originally expected just three short weeks ago.

The MLB is about to rev back up again at the halfway point of the season, meaning we’re about to see Cubs galore get shipped off to (hopefully) greener pastures. Pederson is the first of the regular starters to do so, being traded to the Atlanta Braves for first base prospect Bryce Ball. I hear that Ball is supposed to be one of the higher-ranked prospects, and I also hear that his strikeout rate is at a glowing 27.8%. He’ll fit right in with the Javy Baezes of the team, if Baez will even come out the other side of this offseason as a Cub.

Meanwhile, the Braves hope that Pederson will be a suitable replacement for Ronald Acuna Jr., who has been sidelined for the rest of the season thanks to an ACL injury a few weeks ago. Acuna’s a really hard member of the team to replace, considering he leads his team with 3.6 WAR, but Pederson will try his best to fit in there as they try to make a playoff push.

July 16, 2021
Cubs 5, Diamondbacks 1
WP: Hendricks (12-4) LP: Bumgarner (4-6)
Box Score

Hendricks officially becomes the winningest pitcher in baseball; he’s already cemented his spot as the only truly consistent pitcher in the Cubs’ starting rotation, as they used the All-Star Break to give him the rest he needed to start after pitching technically just two games ago. He allowed only run one total in his 6.0 innings pitched, another quality start in the bag. Only six hits were made off of him and he walked three batters, striking out four. A single and a double in the 3rd inning scored the Diamondbacks’ only run.

The Cubs made quick work of the Diamondbacks after that. In the 2nd inning, Baez was able to single, steal second base, and score when Jake Marisnick hit a sacrifice fly. Then three home runs in the 4th and 7th innings closed the game down for the Cubs thanks to Rizzo, Patrick Wisdom, and Jason Heyward. Heyward also scored Ian Happ, who singled on a ground ball that hit Nico Hoerner as he tried to run for second base, getting him out. It ended up not mattering too much, though, as 5-1 would be the final score.

The bullpen allowed only one hit all game, and it was Ryan Tepera in the 7th inning. He did, however, throw three strikeouts in an otherwise dominant performance. Andrew Chafin allowed no hits and had a strikeout, and Craig Kimbrel shut the Diamondbacks down with a flyout and two strikeouts to finish out the game.

July 17, 2021
Cubs 4, Diamondbacks 2
WP: Brothers (3-2) LP: Soria (1-4)
Box Score

The first half of this game made it seem like the Cubs were slipping back into their pre-All Star Break ways, but they ended up returning to true form in the late innings of the game. It was Adbert Alzolay starting on the mound, and in the 2nd inning he had given up two singles and a groundout that scored a Diamondback. He walked a batter after this, putting himself in a tough situation with runners on 2nd and 3rd, but he was able to get out of the jam thanks to a groundout and help from Hoerner and Rizzo behind him making the play.

The Diamondbacks scored again in the 5th, once again off two singles. A double play took a little bit of the pressure off, but with a runner on third base, Josh Rojas was able to score him to make it 2-0 Diamondbacks. This would be Alzolay’s final inning, as he allowed five hits, two walks and two strikeouts in his time out.

The bullpen once again played solidly, allowing no more Diamondbacks runs to give the offense time to sputter to life. Willson Contreras, after telling the media that others on the team don’t work as hard as he and Baez work just a week ago, proved it for the rest of this game; Contreras himself was directly responsible for three of the Cubs’ four runs, and Baez helped with the first one. After Contreras singled and Rizzo walked, Baez doubled to score Contreras. One play later, Rizzo was tagged out at home and Wisdom lined out, the score still being 2-1 Diamondbacks. In the 9th, however, Rafael Ortega was able to double, and Robinson Chirinos singled in a pinch-hit situation to score Ortega and tie the game. Immediately after, Contreras came in and hit a home run, scoring two runners and giving the Cubs the 4-2 lead. In the bottom of the 9th, Craig Kimbrel once again shows off his closer abilities to any other teams in the market who may be watching, shutting down the D-backs and throwing two strikeouts in the Cubs win.

July 18, 2021
Cubs 4, Diamondbacks 6
WP: Kelly (6-7) LP: Winkler (1-2)
Box Score

The Cubs were once again late to the party when it came to generating offense, and this time it really came back to bite them, as Arizona had a late-inning rally of their own that proved too much to overcome. Zach Davies was on the mound, where he gave up 6 hits, 4 walks and 2 runs in just 4.2 innings, if that shocks any of you. In the 4th inning, Davies loaded up the bases so that a single scored a D-backs run, and then in the 5th a double and a single scored yet another run for the opponents. When he gave up another single shortly after that, he was pulled for Kyle Ryan, who loaded the bases with another walk. Luckily, a groundout play ended the inning.

The Cubs came back to tie things up in the 6th inning. Robinson Chirinos hit a ground-rule double, Bryant doubled to score Chirinos, and Baez singled to score Bryant. Wisdom striking out ended the inning and the two-out rally, and the Diamondbacks wasted no time at the bottom of the next inning preying on Dan Winkler, who walked the first batter, hit the second batter, popped someone out, and then threw a wild pitch to put runners on 2nd and 3rd. Winkler intentionally walked Pavin Smith to load the bases with only one out, a galaxy-brained decision at best. A groundout happened for the next batter, but not before a run was scored to give the D-backs the lead they’d never get back.

Rex Brothers replaced Dan Winkler after that at-bat and the fun didn’t stop there. After a wild pitch to score yet another runner, Brothers decided to intentionally walk Daulton Varsho, who immediately stole second base. Luckily it was the pitcher, Merrill Kelly, who grounded out next to end the inning.

It wasn’t over. The next inning, Brothers walked his first batter and then a home run two batters later gave the Diamondbacks a 6-2 lead. By the 9th inning, the Cubs started things off with a double and a single that led Kelly, the starting pitcher, to finally leave the game after allowing six hits, four runs and six strikeouts in his 8 innings pitched. Baez was able to steal two bases thanks to the Diamondbacks — the DIAMONDBACKS — feeling defensive indifference toward our team in this 9th-inning, two-out situation. Ortega hit a line drive after that to score Baez, but the Diamondbacks got the final strikeout to end an absolutely embarrassing game, all things considered.

The Cubs came out of the All-Star Break winning a pair of games, which is good for their confidence, theoretically. However, it IS the Diamondbacks, who are 27-68 on the year. And today’s loss was pretty embarrassing. Our team is pretty bad, folks.

Next comes a four-game series against the Cardinals at St. Louis, who are now exactly tied with the Cubs at just a tick under .500. Both teams are 9 games back of the 1st-place Brewers and 7 games back of the 2nd-place Reds. Though the playoffs aren’t realistic for either of these teams anymore, it’s always good to not get embarrassed by the Cardinals, so let’s try and get the job done, alright? Go Cubs go!

Baseball

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 certainly outweighed the bad if you were a Cubs fan this weekend. With Wrigley Field at 100% capacity and the fans going nuts, the Cubs seemed to get another rush of adrenaline that pushed them to winning an important series against the Cardinals. After Friday’s blip, where Kohl Stewart only went 4 innings, the Cubs starters were, dare I say it…good?

Both Kyle Hendricks and Zach Davies went 6+ innings this weekend, giving the bullpen a needed breather to keep from tiring out as this full-length season continues. More big games from the starters, and the Cubs, dare I say it, look dangerous? More important games are coming up, and soon, so we’ll have to see how this team fares.

June 11, 2021
Cubs 7, Cardinals 5
WP: Nance (1-0) LP: Cabrera (1-2)
Box Score

Let’s be honest: the game didn’t start the way any of us wanted to, with the Cubs pretty much always behind on the score, as Kohl Stewart made his second start as a Cub and almost immediately started giving up hits. In the 2nd inning, a walk and two singles were able to score the Cardinals’ first run of the game, and they added onto that in the 3rd when a walk and two more singles allowed another run to score.

It took around half the game for the Cubs’ offense to show up, but I’d take that over them never showing up at all. The Cubs started out with a solo home run by Joc Pederson in the 4th, and by the top of the 5th the Cardinals had scored another run before Stewart was pulled for Keegan Thompson. A single by Nolan Arenado was all the Cards needed to make the score 5-1 Cardinals, but amazingly the Cubs came roaring back at the bottom of the inning with three runs of their own. Although Contreras walked and Jason Heyward (finally) singled, it was Sergio Alcantara, the second baseman for today, who was the hero of the inning. His triple scored two runs, and after a kind of hilarious Yadier Molina throwing error, he was able to score to make it 5-4.

Though by this time the inning ended with the Cubs behind, it was Anthony Rizzo in the 6th who hit a solo bomb to tie the game, and in the 7th inning it was Heyward again with a leadoff single, Jake Marisnick with a single, and Joc Pederson again being the catalyst for some runs as he hit a double, scoring both men in front of him. The Cubs ended the game offensively for both sides through a solo homer by Contreras in the 8th.

Once Thompson stepped off the mound, the Cubs only allowed one hit and one walk and had five strikeouts. The Cardinals tried to make contact on Craig Kimbrel’s pitches in the 9th inning but kept getting pop-ups that were easy plays for guys like Baez. Even when the first batter hit a ground ball off Kimbrel’s pitch, it was Baez who made a crazy split-second play to Rizzo to get him out quickly. Good work was done by all.

June 12, 2021
Cubs 7, Cardinals 2
WP: Hendricks (8-4) LP: Gant (4-4)
Box Score

The Cubs have done it again. In front of a rip-roaring crowd, it only took two innings for them to blow this game wide open. Kyle Hendricks was able to pitch 6 innings, a rarity these days for a Cubs starter, and allowed the only two runs the Cardinals would get all game. Those runs were both homers and came off of only three hits he allowed; he also had two strikeouts on the day.

The Cubs, however, had three home runs this game. The first one opened up scoring in the 2nd inning by Ian Happ that scored Willson Conteras, who walked earlier. Four straight walks (and one Pederson flyout) later, and the Cubs were up 3-1. Javier Baez singled to make it 4-1, and Rizzo got hit by a pitch which made the game 5-1 Cubs.

The team never looked back, despite the Cardinals hitting another solo home run to start the 3rd inning. A single and a walk put Hendricks in the diciest situation of the day, but he was able to get out of it thanks to the defense behind him getting lineouts and forceouts. Alcantara homered in the bottom of the 3rd, once again showing Cubs fans that he is competent on both an offensive and defensive level, but what call-ups haven’t been like that so far this season?

Maybe it was Trevor Megill, who didn’t have a good outing after being recently called up, trading places with Kohl Stewart for a reliever position. Megill only lasted 0.2 innings in the 9th and gave up one of only two bullpen hits of the game for the Cubs. He allowed two walks, loading the bases. The Cubs, not wanting to extend this game any longer than necessary, just decided to yank him and put in Craig Kimbrel, who was able to get the final out of the game.

June 13, 2021
Cubs 2, Cardinals 0
WP: Davies (4-3) LP: Martinez (3-7)
Box Score

The Cubs continue to dazzle, including on the starting pitching front, as Zach Davies went 6.2 innings of baseball where he gave up only 2 hits and 2 walks. Can I believe I’m writing these words? Not exactly, but I’ll take all the good that I can get for this team.

The Wrigley Field crowd cheered the whole way through (and made a very impressive beer snake in the bleachers) as the Cubs scored twice in the 3rd inning to go up on the Cards. It started out with Eric Sogard — yes, once again I’m amazed — hitting a double to start out the inning. He scored on a fielding error just two batters later, as Pederson was able to reach first. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo then drew back-to-back singles to make it 2-0 Cubs.

Baez was not playing today after likely reinjuring his thumb after running to catch a ball in left field during yesterday’s game. Sergio Alcantara once again filled in for him at short, making all the big plays at shortstop that were needed, occasionally in an impressive Baez-like manner. More please.

After Davies looked shaky to start the 7th inning in a two-out situation, Rossy decided it was time for the bullpen. Ryan Tepera finished out the inning, getting the forceout to strand a few Cardinals on base. He might’ve gone three-up, three-down in the 8th inning if not for an overthrow to first base by Patrick Wisdom. And Craig Kimbrel? Well, we’re all just glad to be watching his hall-of-fame career.

The Cubs immediately turn around to face the Mets this week in New York. The Mets stand at the top of the NL East, and with a 3-game margin. They have played less games than the Cubs have, but are still similarly matched in points percentage, .561 for them vs. .578 for us. The Cubs have quickly and shockingly turned their entire season around, and if they win some games against New York this week, that’s right folks — we will be buyers at the deadline. You won’t have to see Kris Bryant leave until the winter.

Knock on wood, of course.