Baseball

Game 1 Box Score: Cubs 6, A’s 5

Game 2 Box Score: A’s 11, Cubs 4

Game 3 Box Score: Cubs 10, A’s 1

I know what you’re thinking. If you’ve been around these parts for any length of time, you’re probably either ready to label me with or for me to project that I’ve motherfucked the Cubs into brilliance with my declaration that they weren’t going anywhere after that beer fart in St. Louis. And it’s close, but the Cubs have to take it on the road before we can officially declare that. We know they’re good at home. They were brilliant this time around, going 5-1 against a division competitor and a playoff contender from the American League. They could have their biggest lead in the division all season when it’s all said and done. Now if they could actually get things moving on this 10-game road trip, with nary an impressive opponent on it, we might be on to something.

Let’s…

-I guess I’ll start with Ian Happ. I’ve never been a huge believer in Colonel Happ, but he always seduces you with that swing and his discipline. At this point, the Cubs don’t have much to lose by playing him at second most. We know Kemp and Bote just aren’t going to hit, and you can mitigate some of Happ’s defense with shifting. Five hits in the series, and even more hard contact. Even when Happ was struggling he still worked an AB, and the Cubs need more of that. If it works over the next month then you don’t have to hinge anything on Ben Zobrist, which we probably shouldn’t be anyway.

-Monday was an adventure, but with this state of the pen I don’t know what else it’s going to be. The Cubs are going to need the rotation to pick it up for a week or two, even more than they have, and get to the 7th inning consistently. From there you can just throw the masses out to get six to eight outs, as messy as it’s going to be.

-Speaking of which, Duane Underwood is going to get himself a couple more looks before Kimbrel comes back. He’s the only one with options so he probably has to go down when that happens. It was a great debut, but some salt grains required. He’s been good as a reliever in Iowa, and he’s another guy who at least throws hard, which the Cubs haven’t had enough of. That doesn’t mean he should be in high-leverage situations tomorrow, but again, what do the Cubs have to lose here? I don’t need more David Phelps in my life, and anything that gets Cishek rest at this point should be welcome.

-As for Jon Lester, there’s not much reason to panic as long as the other four starters keep doing this. As we’ve said, his margin for error is so thin, and now it’s a wonder if he can get inside on righties at all. But as a fifth starter, fine. We’ll deep dive on this at a later date.

-Castellanos is a danger to himself in the field, but he seems to do everything right with a helmet on. And there is something he’s brought to the club with his energy and bounce, which is very welcome in August.

-Anyone bitching about Quintana now?

-Is this Hendricks’s best stretch in his career? Seven starts, 10 earned runs, 37 Ks, 11 walks. He’s almost automatic right now.

-I’ll say I was there the night the Cubs had three catchers on the field, and none of them were Willson Contreras.

Onwards…

Baseball

Game 1 Box Score: Cubs 6, Padres 5

Game 2 Box Score: Cubs 6, Padres 5

Game 3 Box Score: Padres 5, Cubs 1

Huh. The Padres scored five runs in every game. Only won one. That’s weird, right? Anywho, the temptation is to bitch that the Cubs didn’t get the last one of the homestand to make it a glittering 8-1. But 7-2 is way beyond acceptable, Morejon and Quantrill were absolutely dealing today, and sometimes you’re just not getting it. Considering the Cubs came out on the right side of a couple one-run decisions in the first two games, you’re probably due for a clunker. What’s really important is what comes on this roadie, as it’s one of the hottest teams in baseball followed by your direct competitors. We’ll take 7-2 on that too, thanks.

Let’s clean it up.

The Two Obs

-Still, today was frustrating because once again, the back half of the bullpen cannot keep the Cubs within a run. They probably weren’t going to score off Yates today anyway, but you’d at least take your chance. The impulse to lambast Maddon for bringing in Carl Edwards Jr. in a high-leverage situation right in the middle of it is understandable, but there really wasn’t anyone else. Cishek and Kintzler had to be down for the day. Strop most likely. Kimbrel would never be used there. Brach and Ryan had already gone. Your only other choice is Chatwood, and he’s no sure thing either.

And the time for babying Edwards is over. Either he’s a guy who can handle this or he’s not and we can all move on with our lives. Judging by the fact that his fastball was barely touching 92 today, I know which way I’m leaning.

-While on the pen, Strop gave up another lead on this third best pitch, a two-seam fastball that doesn’t do anything. Sometimes I wonder if two-seam is just the label they’re putting on a splitter that doesn’t do shit, but either way Strop needs to lose this pitch. Hitters have been losing it for him enough. His four-seam isn’t overpowering but he at least spots it well, and he should be going down with either that or his slider. He doesn’t need a starter’s repertoire.

-Considering the conditions, the work the Cubs got out of Lester and Quintana is good stuff. They won’t go down as quality starts, but they were considering the environment.

-How nice was it to watch the other team kick the ball around to lose a game on Friday?

-I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the wind turn around like that instantly as it did yesterday.

-Looks like I motherfucked Anthony Rizzo just right. You’ll notice his grand slam came to left field, so in that sense, I’m a genius.

-It’s really starting to feel like we’re seeing the last of Albert Almora Jr. around here. He’s completely lost at the plate, to the point where even his plus-defense doesn’t cancel it out. We’ve had more than enough ABs in his career to conclude he’s just not going to be much of a hitter. Joe Sheehan can wail about his playing time all he likes, but a .666 OPS tells you everything.

-One thing I’ve noticed Maldonado does, and Caratini for the most part too, that Contreras doesn’t, is that he doesn’t drop his glove when setting up and always presents the target. Pitchers must love that, and should be an easy correction for Willson to make.

-Give the Padres two years and a clean bill of the health and they might muddle up this Dodgers nightmare the NL West has lived through.

Onwards…

Everything Else

Boxscore

Event Summary

War On Ice

At this time of year, and with the way things had been going, points are pretty much all that matters. You can worry about the style points later. Which is good, because the last two wouldn’t really have any outside of the 4th line and Scott Darling. The Hawks clinched a playoff spot, not that that was in doubt, and can at least claim a mini-winning streak. They did what they had to, even if it was by the skin of their teeth, Dave Mustaine.

On the other side, needing you goalie to bail you out against the dreck of the Pacific Division isn’t going to cause anyone to write songs. The Hawks gave up 15 shots in the 3rd period to a team with four forwards (maybe) and two defensemen that you’d call NHL quality. I think the past two games are more the Hawks struggling to find interest more than anything structural, as past games against better teams probably have been. But whatever changes they have in store we’re not going to see for another two weeks, so let us deal with what is.

Everything Else

Box Score

Event Summary

War-on-ice

Natural Stat Trick

Considering the way the Flames play, considering both teams were on their third game in four nights in three cities, and considering the Hawks looked leggy last night, this one was never going to be shipped off to the Smithsonian as a great display of sport. And it wasn’t. This one was about perseverance, as the Flames concentrated on jamming things up in the defensive and neutral zone and just took what they could find at the other.

Thankfully, the Hawks really didn’t give them all that much after Hudler’s goal. They had to wait and wait for a crack, and they got one when Johnny Gaudreau (who was a threat all night) blew a tire at the blue line and Hjalmarsson was able to shove forward for Toews and Saad to have something of a 2-on-0. Saad didn’t make any mistakes. Two points gained. Move on.

Everything Else

Box Score

Event Summary

War-on-ice

Natural Stat Trick

Considering the way the Flames play, considering both teams were on their third game in four nights in three cities, and considering the Hawks looked leggy last night, this one was never going to be shipped off to the Smithsonian as a great display of sport. And it wasn’t. This one was about perseverance, as the Flames concentrated on jamming things up in the defensive and neutral zone and just took what they could find at the other.

Thankfully, the Hawks really didn’t give them all that much after Hudler’s goal. They had to wait and wait for a crack, and they got one when Johnny Gaudreau (who was a threat all night) blew a tire at the blue line and Hjalmarsson was able to shove forward for Toews and Saad to have something of a 2-on-0. Saad didn’t make any mistakes. Two points gained. Move on.