Baseball

We thought it may never come, but baseball season is once again upon us. And with the Cubs’ World Series core all signed to other teams and the Red Hot Chili Peppers just releasing a new album with John Frusciante on guitar, it really feels like we’re back in 2006. (Linked is Frusciante shredding up Give It Away like it’s nothing on Howard Stern. I didn’t get to see this band live with him in the lineup, so I am absurdly excited for the tour. Take my money.)

The Cubs have yet to officially announce their Opening Day roster, but it’s certainly starting to take shape, and things look a bit rocky with a myriad of starting and bullpen pitchers beginning the season on the injured list, because of course they are. Kyle Hendricks is deservedly slated to be the Opening Day starter, with Rossy confirming that Justin Steele and Marcus Stroman are starting on Friday and Saturday respectively. Drew Smyly, a pickup from the Braves this offseason, could be an option for Sunday’s start as well.

Stroman, the offseason pitching signing the Cubs inked just before the lockout, is yet another pitcher who loves inducing ground balls, and throws a 92 mph fastball—and though that may not seem very fast to you, it’s fast compared to the rest of the Cubs pitchers, since fastballs are not this team’s specialty. Meanwhile, veteran starter Wade Miley, who the Cubs easily plucked from the swarmey, grimey hands of Bob Castellini, has been on a slower ramp-up schedule over Spring Training and is expected to start the season on the injured list. Miley had a bounceback season with the Reds last year with a 3.37 ERA and a no-hitter to his name.

The bullpen is just a teeny tiny bit of a tire fire at the moment, with three of the strongest pitchers, Adbert Alzolay, Brad Wieck and Codi Heuer, starting the season on the 60-day IL. (White Sox fans are laughing maniacally at this news, I’m sure.) With the slower start to begin the season with the off-day on Monday, I bet we see Alec Mills or Keegan Thompson on relief duty to patch some of those bullpen holes. Other than those guys, we have a myriad of Joe Schmoes who will have a chance out of the bullpen. Michael Rucker is an interesting name to keep an eye on—he pitched 28.1 innings last season and had a ballooning 6.99 ERA, but didn’t look terrible in Arizona with a 2.25 ERA and 11 strikeouts over 8 innings. Some other names we will likely see early: Jesse Chavez, Scott Effross, Daniel Norris, Mychal Givens, David Robertson, and Rowan Wick. With no true closer figured out yet, expect the latter three to be rotating in and out of the 9th innings until Rossy sees someone that can maybe sorta kinda replace Craig Kimbrel. (Nobody can.)

As for the fielders, let’s start out with the obligatory fuck you to Ricketts and Co. for the handling of Willson Contreras’s contract extension this offseason. We’ve seen this long national nightmare before and we all know where it’s going—if Contreras is still a Cub after this year’s deadline I will be genuinely shocked. In the meantime, Rossy is relieved to have the DH in the NL now so he doesn’t have to ride Contreras into the fucking ground during the first half of the season. Hopefully he has a bounceback offensive season this year with some days off in the DH role as new signee Yan Gomes takes some starts. That way Contreras can get paid the big bucks he deserves in free agency when he signs to some team that isn’t the Cubs. Prepare yourselves.

The Cubs infield consists of a halfhearted shrug from me. Andrelton Simmons, who the front office hailed as the singular solution to the team’s defensive issues we saw in the back half of last season, looks bound for the injured list with shoulder problems. This means we will see Nico Hoerner at shortstop, who is surprisingly not injured to start the season (please God, do not Motherfuck me on this.) Patrick Wisdom and Frank Schwindel will make their triumphant returns and we’ll see if last season wasn’t just an epic, humungous fluke. Finally, Nick Madrigal is expected to hopefully not get hurt this season and build upon his offensive numbers—he had a .305/.249/.425 slash line with the Sox before tearing his hamstring in June to end his 2021 season.

Last but not least, the Cubs outfield got bolstered substantially with the signing of Seiya Suzuki from Japan, who nudges Jason Heyward, God save us all, over to center. There’s understandably been a lot of hype around Seiya, but I’m trying to temper my expectations as he will probably need some time to adjust to the MLB. He hit two home run bombs in Spring Training but also had 7 strikeouts in 17 plate appearances, good for a .235/.350/.588 slash line. So again, time to adjust is needed. Meanwhile, Ian Happ, known oh-so-affectionately around here as the Kirby Dach of the Chicago Cubs, had surgery over the offseason and will probably see a lighter workload to start things off. Heyward continues to be a Locker Room Guy and not much else—just two more seasons on that contract to go. Other than that, we’ll probably see old familiars like Rafael Ortega and Michael Hermosillo filling in any outfield holes.

It was really looking like the Cubs were heading into full-blown rebuild mode going into this offseason, but the tides have turned slightly with some significant pitching signings and the acquisition of Seiya Suzuki this winter. Now the Cubs’ ship seems to be turning in circles, stuck between rebuild and contention, the place that MLB owners love so much to be. This team certainly won’t be good, but considering the expanded 12-team playoff system that came out of the lockout and the irreverent tanking of the Reds and Pirates this year, a playoff spot may not be as out of reach as you think…if everything goes exactly according to plan, of course. But I think a season not unlike the one in 2006 is in our midst.

Despite it all…go Cubs go!

Baseball

Not only did this Cubs team get crushed in a four-game series against the Cardinals, a hated rival, but the Cardinals won their franchise-record 16th game in a row while doing it and all but officially ending the NL wild card race, as now the closest teams behind them for the second spot are 5.5-6 games back.

There’s not a lot of good to report, especially considering Nico Hoerner continues to be injured, sitting out the last two games of this series due to “general soreness.” Wisdom was out for the final game, as well, with wrist soreness. Not that any of it matters, of course.

September 24, 2021 Game 1
Cubs 5, Cardinals 8 (F/7)
WP: Reyes (10-8) LP: Steele (3-4)
Box Score

Another Justin Steele start for this one, and another Justin Steele loss. He pitched five of the seven innings for the Cubs, dueling for much of the game with the Cardinals’ starter, J.A. Happ. J.A. won out on this one, with Steele allowing a two-run dinger in the 3rd inning and two more dingers in the 5th inning to make it 6-0 Cardinals. Seven hits, two walks and five strikeouts in five innings—it could be better.

The Cubs were snakebitten for the first half of this one offensively, even loading the bases in the 4th when they were only down two runs, but were never able to make anything happen, with strikeouts and double-plays making things hard. By the 6th inning, after two more Cardinals runs given up by Tommy Nance, the Cubs went on a bit of a rally, but rallies lack in meaning if you’re down eight runs. Nevertheless, two walks, a homer, a single and two doubles and suddenly the loss looked a lot less brutal on the scoreboard. But trust me, it was pretty brutal if you watched the whole way through.

September 24, 2021 Game 2
Cubs 4, Cardinals 12 (F/7)
WP: LP:
Box Score

It’s a waste of my time to write about this game and it would be a waste of your time to read about it.

September 25, 2021
Cubs 5, Cardinals 8
WP: Kim (7-7) LP: Heuer (7-3)
Box Score

At least runs were scored in three separate innings in this 8-5 loss as opposed to the previous 8-5 loss. Once again, the Cards scored first with a solo dinger to right field. Then two singles, a double and a walk in the 3rd gave the Cubs their first lead in the entire series, which they returned quickly to the Cardinals in the next half-inning, as starter Adrian Sampson gave up his second homer of the game, this time to Tyler O’Neill.

The 4th inning featured a bit of déjà vu from the 3rd inning, as Willson Contreras and Ian Happ scored two more runners on their own. This time the Cubs bombarded St. Louis with three singles, a sac bunt and a walk in the 4th to go up 4-2, where the score stayed for two innings.

Sampson was taken out at the start of the 7th inning for Codi Heuer, who ended up being the losing pitcher for the Cubs when he gave up four hits in a row, tying the game. Scott F-Ross replaced him and gave up a sac fly on his third pitch of the game, giving the Cards a lead they would not give back. Tommy Nance gave up three more runs on the mound in the 9th inning, and though Happ hit a solo dinger to center field at the bottom of the 9th, it wasn’t enough for a Cubs comeback. Shocking, I know.

September 26, 2021
Cubs 2, Cardinals 4
WP: Cabrera (4-5) LP: Heuer (7-4)
Box Score

Another game where the Cubs were out ahead with a lead and blew it. Granted this was a 2-1 lead against a team on a 15-game winning streak, but you did hope the Cubs would hold on.

In the 3rd inning, Paul Goldschmidt hit a solo homer to put the Cardinals in front, but an inning later in the 4th showed the Cubs’ only meaningful burst of offense this game after a walk, a single, a double by Sergio Alcantara and a sac fly by David Bote put the Cubs ahead 2-1.

The Cardinals hit another solo homer in the 8th inning off Rowan Wick, meaning it all came down to the 9th inning, where Codi Heuer became the losing pitcher for the second game in a row. He couldn’t find a strike, walking the first batter on four pitches, allowing a single in his next pitch, allowing a sacrifice bunt, intentionally walking Paul Goldschmidt to load the bases, and then a wild pitch was thrown in order to score the Cardinals’ go-ahead run. Then a single was hit to Heuer, which he dropped on the ground in an embarrassing error where the Cards scored another runner.

The Cubs were able to get two men on in the bottom of the 9th inning for Frank Schwindel to come up to bat, but an infield fly rule ruled him out and ended up not allowing the Cardinals to throw out Austin Romine at 3rd base. The Cardinals were so pissed about this that their manager was ejected yelling about it, but it ended up not mattering as Ian Happ struck out on three pitches to end the game. That’s Cub.

The Cubs’ final midweek series is against the Pirates starting tonight. The Pirates suck. The Cubs suck. It will be some low-quality baseball. But maybe both teams can make it an interesting series instead of a one-sided shellacking. See you then. Go Cubs go!

Everything Else

As a Cubs fan, you hate the Brewers, and always will. Which means this series sucked, because you singlehandedly gave the Brewers and a stadium filled with tens of thousands of fans a guaranteed playoff spot (likely soon to turn into division title) while your team is destined to be mired in mediocrity for the rest of eternity. Here’s a wrap.

September 17, 2021
Cubs 5, Brewers 8
WP: Ashby (3-0) LP: Wick (0-1)
Box Score

I had déjà vu during the 4th inning of this Cubs game, when the Cubs went up 4-0 and I remembered the absolute shellacking that was handed to them in the previous game in which they blew a 7-0 lead. I knew the Cubs couldn’t hold onto that lead, and the Brewers proved me right in the bottom of that same inning. They scored three runs on no outs thanks to some rough pitching from everyone’s favorite, Zach Davies.

The Cubs would cling onto the one-, sometimes two-run lead until the bottom of the 8th inning when the Brewers took advantage of Rowan Wick, who gave up three singles and two walks in the inning to give the Brewers a 7-5 lead, all on two outs. He was yanked for Dillon Maples, who immediately threw a wild pitch that made it 8-5 Brewers, and then walked two more Brewers before throwing the final out of the inning. The damage had been done, however, as the Cubs couldn’t any runs back in the 9th and ended up losing this game.

September 18, 2021
Cubs 4, Brewers 6
WP: Williams (8-2) LP: F-Ross (2-1)
Box Score

Willson Contreras getting robbed of extra-base hits in the 2nd inning by a highlight-reel catch set the vibe of this entire game for the Cubs. (Patrick Wisdom had a highlight-reel catch of his own later on in the inning, though, that deserves a shoutout). Justin Steele gave up a home run in the bottom of the 2nd to give the Brewers the lead. Though the Cubs came back with a run of their own in the 3rd after three singles, the Brewers hit another dinger in what started out as a surprisingly exciting back-and-forth game.

Though the Cubs were able to score two runs in the top of the 5th off Corbin Burnes thanks to an Ian Happ home run, the Brewers are a playoff team for a reason and wouldn’t give up easily. Additionally, Adbert Alzolay gave up many a hit in his outing today — four in three innings, including one that tied the game in the 5th and a solo dinger to give the Brewers the lead back. It was Contreras, however, who tied the game singlehandedly with a solo homer of his own that deserves a mention here.

The lead didn’t last even half an inning in what was a pretty awful outing by Scott F-Ross. He allowed Manny Pina’s second home run of the night to put the Brewers up late on a tough pitch. Though F-Ross’s pitches can be nasty on occasion, just a slight misplacement of the ball can be trouble for the Cubs.

Two more hits off of F-Ross after that and the game turned to a whole new level of sickening. Contreras was struck out with a legal strike and had a meltdown to the umpire, getting himself ejected from the game — not that that even mattered, as the Brewers just pulled out Josh Hader for the save who had two strikeouts to win the game, and playoff spot, for the Brewers. Just kill me now.

September 19, 2021
Cubs 6, Brewers 2
WP: Morgan (1-0) LP: Boxberger (5-4)
Box Score

Not that anybody cares, but we somehow ended up in the final meeting of the season against these chumps, where nearly half of the baseball game was played with no score for other team. It was Trayce Thompson, today’s right fielder for the Cubs, who started off the scoring with a solo dinger in the 5th against Eric Lauer. However, the Brewers tied it up, once again only a half-inning later, with a walk and a couple of hits off of starter Adrian Sampson, one of which was just a few feet short of being a homer.

Strikeout Wonder Patrick Wisdom, who had four strikeouts in the previous game, struck out four times today and had nine strikeouts in the series, is obscene to me. (Previous Strikeout Wonder Javy Baez struck out only four times in his team’s weekend series against the Mets, for perspective.) However, Wisdom hit a three-run homer in the 8th inning that came after two walks and two hits for the Cubs to make a W seem possible. Suddenly, we were up 6-2 with only an inning and a half to go, and Wisdom was standing alone with the Cubs’ rookie home run record. Congrats to him, despite this win being a part of a much larger farce.

David Ross decided to gift Rowan Wick with a 9th-inning closer opportunity despite the fact that he was dogshit in the first game of this series. And surprise, surprise, Wick’s 9th inning today went about as predictably as you’d expect, putting the Cubs in genuine danger of throwing a four-run lead away late after he walked three and allowed two singles, loading the bases for the Brewers. Michael Rucker was tasked with getting one (1) out, and he got it thanks to a pop fly to center field that won us the game, thank God.

By the way, Nico Hoerner finally returned from his injury today, but if you didn’t notice him I wouldn’t find you at fault, since he went 0 for 4 tonight offensively and was the only non-pitcher for the Cubs today who didn’t even make it on base. So uh, figure that out, I guess.

Everyone gets an off-day tomorrow, and then the Cubs play the final series of the year against the Minnesota Twins, which is about as awful a series as I can think of. Just a few more weeks of this dreck, and hockey is just around the corner. We’ll muddle through together. 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

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

Though the series started on a positive note, things sort of ended with a flop as the Cubs continue to struggle offensively, along with rolling out shaky starters who you can never completely trust to hold it together for a quality 5-6 innings. I’m not sure what exactly I expected out of this series, but I was certainly hoping for at least a split — obviously that didn’t happen as the Dodgers starters were able to shut down the Cubs offense for the most part. Let’s break these games down.

June 24, 2021
Cubs 4, Dodgers 0
WP: Davies (5-4) LP: Buehler (7-1)
Box Score

I must say, I was not confident in Zach Davies’ abilities at the posting of the last wrap, but he was finally able to put up a good game today — a combined no-hit game, in fact — against the Dodgers, and against Walker Buehler, whose ERA was over 1.00 points higher than Davies. However, he gave us a quality start of 6 innings, being a big part of the no-hitter tonight and striking out four batters. He also walked five people, something he definitely needs to work on, but it was all in all a solid outing for him.

Meanwhile, on the offensive front, our home-run-happy Cubs continued to hit some home runs, if you can believe that. Javier Baez started things off on the right foot in the 1st with a solo dinger, and then in the 6th Willson Contreras hit a home run of his own, scoring Bryant, who walked to start the inning off.

An offensive rally began in the 7th inning when Jason Heyward was able to hit a single, dashing to second base after an ugly Dodgers throwing error. He had two hits this game after being quite invisible offensively for most of the season.

Eric Sogard, the king of singles, was able to send Heyward to third base. And once again, the pinch hitters put up a hit, as Jake Marisnick hit for Davies and was able to poke one to the outfield, scoring Heyward. Pederson was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but after that a Bryant strikeout and a double play against Baez ended the inning.

Teamwork makes the dream work, as Ryan Tepera and Andrew Chafin both threw an inning each to keep the team no-hitter intact. Once again we were all blessed to watch a Craig Kimbrel save unfold before our very eyes, and there was a celebration abound as the Cubs threw the first combined no-hitter in MLB since 2019. Congrats to all.

June 25, 2021
Cubs 2, Dodgers 6
WP: Treinen (2-3) LP: Tepera (0-1)
Box Score

This game didn’t go nearly as well, as Jake Arrieta starts are wont to go these days. However, it wasn’t Arrieta on the hook with the loss this game, and he was able to stay in the game for 5.0 innings, which is…progress? He allowed five hits, three walks and two runs in his time on the mound, however, which can definitely be improved upon. He allowed a single in the second inning, and a steal and two groundouts that advanced a baserunner made it 1-1 at the bottom of the 2nd. (Kris Bryant hit a solo dinger during the second at-bat of the game.) Then Arrieta allowed a homer to start the 3rd inning to make it 2-1 Dodgers. A walk and a double put runners in scoring position, and an intentional walk loaded the bases with two outs, but he was able to lineout to end the inning.

Arrieta allowed no more runs in his time on the mound, but tonight the bullpen was not as sharp as it usually is. Keegan Thompson and Andrew Chafin combined to allow no hits in the 6th and 7th innings of the game, but it was Ryan Tepera and Tommy Nance who collapsed in the 8th inning, allowing two homers and four runs total between the two of them. Definitely a forgetful ending to this game, for sure.

June 26, 2021
Cubs 2, Dodgers 3
WP: Price (3-0) LP: Thompson (3-2)
Box Score

It was Alec Mills’ time to start in the rotation, and he only threw four innings, giving up hits almost immediately and wracking up eight total on the night. Two doubles in the bottom of the 1st put the Dodgers ahead immediately, and a wild pitch by Mills advanced Max Muncy to third base. It just took another single for the Dodgers to make it 2-0.

However, Mills gave up no more runs for the next three innings, thanks in part to Willson Contreras making one of a few highlight-reel plays for him this game. In the 2nd inning, he was able to catch Chris Taylor stealing third, getting the ball to Patrick Wisdom to throw him out. This inevitably saved the Cubs a run that would’ve put them in a 3-0 hole, as a groundout right after this ended the inning.

The rest of his start, Mills walked two pitchers and allowed three singles. It was once again Contreras keeping the Cubs in the game, picking off Chris Taylor yet again at third base in the 4th inning. Anthony Rizzo hit a solo homer the half-inning before, and it was Contreras’s defensive ability to allow the Cubs to tie the game just a half-inning later on two doubles from two players who’ve been a mess offensively all year: Jason Heyward and Ian Happ.

Heyward continued to produce, even hitting a solo homer in the top of the 7th to give the Cubs the lead…or did he? Not according to the officials, who decided to overturn the call on the field with no evidence that the ball went foul, and when the video review was similarly inconclusive, the overturned call stayed. Umps explaining calls to fans when?

That didn’t keep Heyward from being productive that at-bat, though, although the single he hit was much less than productive than the go-ahead homer would’ve been. The Cubs weren’t able to score in this situation, though, and it ended up being a game-deciding call, as the Dodgers walked it off in the 9th inning with a solo home run. This was definitely a game stolen in part by umping, and those are always tough ones to swallow.

June 27, 2021
Cubs 1, Dodgers 7
WP: Kershaw (9-7) LP: Alzolay (4-7)
Box Score

This game wasn’t stolen by umping by any means. Unfortunately, Adbert Alzolay had a tough night, as the game went off the rails in only the 2nd inning, when he loaded the bases through only walks and hit-by-pitches and then let Zach McKinstry hit a grand slam to make it 4-0. Javy Baez made a fielding error to allow Mookie Betts to reach after his at-bat and then Cody Bellinger hit another two-run homer in the same inning to make it 6-0 Dodgers. Alzolay was pulled after just three innings.

Baez tried to make up for his fielding gaffe by hitting a solo home run in the 4th inning, but by that time it didn’t seem feasible that the Cubs could come back from this. It would be the Cubs’ only run during the game, and one of only four hits—the other three came from Joc Pederson, Eric Sogard and Patrick Wisdom.

Tommy Nance and Rex Brothers came out of the bullpen to give guys like Tepera and Chafin some time off. Nance pitched three innings, allowing only three hits and striking out five batters. He gave up a run in the 6th inning to make it 7-1 Dodgers after allowing a Mookie Betts triple, but other than that he had a pretty good outing all things considered. Brothers pitched the other two innings and allowed no hits for the Dodgers.

The Cubs’ next couple of games couldn’t be more important as far as late-June baseball is concerned; they’re heading to Milwaukee to start the week with three games against the Brewers. Since the Cubs have been sliding, the Brewers are now 2.5 games ahead in the standings with a 43-33 record, first in the Central. If this team has a prayer of winning the division, they need to win AT LEAST two out of three to stay in the mix. Otherwise, the Brewers could easily pull way ahead of the entire division. (The third-place Reds are already 6 games back.)

From what I’ve seen, unfortunately, I just don’t think the Cubs can do it — not with this rotation and the offense in the freezer, falling back down to 28th in the league with a .224 team batting average. The Brewers have won five in a row (granted, against garbage teams like Arizona and Colorado), and they have solid pitching to go with it. Not only do they boast starters like Brandon Woodruff with a 1.89 ERA for the year, but they also have two other pitchers, Freddy Peralta and Corbin Burnes, who have a better ERA than Kyle Hendricks, who leads Cubs starters with a 3.84 ERA. Plus, the Brewers have Josh Hader, another incredibly talented closer like Kimbrel. It will be a tough test for the Cubs — let’s see if they survive. Go Cubs go!

Baseball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baseball

Tired of boring Cubs baseball? Well you were in luck, because this series had everything you could ever want and a bunch of crap you didn’t: benches-clearing brawls, pitchers collapsing, a 10-homer game, two injured players and no lack of offense.

Things were certainly less bleak this series compared to the last. Despite the Cubs losing two games, at least the bats weren’t dead and everyone was scoring. Our rotation, however, is genuinely atrocious, and the bullpen we have built up can only do so much when the starters dig a huge hole for them to climb out of. Additionally, this all came at the expense of Willson Contreras and Ian Happ, so you have to take the good with the bad.

Here are my observations from the games this weekend.

April 30, 2021
Cubs 6, Reds 8
WP: Miley (3-2) LP: Arrieta (3-3)
Box Score

The Cubs came out in front early in this one, but because Jake Arrieta (unironically the Cubs’ Best Starter) only lasted until the 4th inning, the Cubs ended up down 6-2. He gave up a homer, a single, another two-run homer and a walk in the 4th inning before getting pulled, and he had been unraveling the inning before as well. The Cubs wouldn’t be able to make it back on top, which became the story of two-thirds of this series: this team could always make it back to tie it but never get ahead.

At least Kyle Ryan With Two First Names could stop the bleeding! After yanking Arrieta, David Ross put him in and got the second out with a strikeout. Then Ryan gave up a single and a double to dig the hole deeper, 7-2. Justin Steele was next on the bullpen list who actually looked pretty good, putting up 5 (????) strikeouts through two innings to keep the Cubs in the game, despite the offense trying their best not to stay in this game. Dillon Maples also looked good, striking out three straight batters and getting another strikeout in the 8th to keep the Cubs in it.

Additionally, Willson Contreras exited the game in the 5th inning because of hamstring tightness. The Cubs can never have good things. Contreras avoided a stint on the 10-day IL, instead electing to take the rest of this series off (until the Sunday disaster, of course).

The Cubs finally started rallying back in the 7th thanks to the likes of Eric Sogard walking, Kris Bryant doubling to make it 8-3 and Baez RBI-ing to make it 8-4. The curse of RISP, however, came back to haunt the Cubs in the 9th inning when they blew a bases-loaded situation. David Bote walked up to the plate and it was his time to shine; remember that one time three years ago when he walk-off grand-slammed to win the game? That certainly didn’t happen here. He grounded out unimpressively to lose this game.

May 1, 2021
Cubs 3, Reds 2
WP: Brothers (1-0) LP: Castillo (1-3)
Box Score

If anyone is tired of watching Zach Davies give up runs, you’re certainly not alone. It’s what the baseball gods have decided we deserve to watch for doing something as stupid as trading Yu Darvish for nothing in return. Luckily, the baseball gods took pity on us and limited our suffering this game, as the Reds wouldn’t score past their two runs in the 1st inning.

After Davies’s double, single and sacrifice fly he gave up, the Cubs’ bats started heating up. Tony Wolters, the new new backup catcher when Contreras is out, was able to single. Then Davies tried to endear us Cubs fans by sacrifice bunting to score Nico Hoerner, and then went back to not endearing us when he loaded up the bases in the next inning.

Bote doubled in the 4th, getting the hit that he couldn’t get last game, and Jason Heyward was able to bat him in to tie up the game. In the bottom of that inning Davies once again gave up two singles and a walk, but the defense behind him was able to get things done, fielding any contact and keeping the Reds from scoring any more runs. The big news out of this game was the benches-clearing brawl started by low IQ individual Amir Garrett and Javy Baez, who was not too happy to watch Garrett get overly celebratory after striking out Anthony Rizzo. Lots of shouting and fighting ensued, including Javy flipping off Garrett live on national Marquee television.

The Reds had a myriad of highlight-reel defensive plays this game, from getting players out at the plate to making diving catches in the outfield that nobody has any business catching. The fact that the Cubs came out of this game with a win at all will hopefully be the start of some better baseball for this team.

Better baseball, you say?…

May 2, 2021
Cubs 12, Reds 13 (F/10)
WP: Hendrix (2-0) LP: Kimbrel (0-1)
Box Score

BUCKLE UP. This game was a tire fire the whole way through. And it was offensively explosive early and wouldn’t let up for 10 innings. In the first two pitches of the game, the Cubs set the tone by hitting two doubles to go up 1-0, but the Reds answered right back in the bottom of the inning to go up 2-1. Please also remember that Tony Wolters stole home in the 2nd inning and were it not from the Baseball Gods from On High in New York with their Secret Camera Angles that they will not release to anybody, this game would have been over in the 9th inning and we could have minimized the catastrophe that was the final few innings of this game.

Hometown Boy Trevor Williams was the starting pitcher, but by the time I’m writing this I had seen seven Cubs pitchers after him and his innings felt like they were worlds away. He was bad, though; really bad. But what pitcher wasn’t this game? The poor kid got pulled in the 3rd when he gave up three home runs in one inning, allowing the Reds to go up 6-4.

There was then a never-ending stream of bullpen pitchers being trotted out for the Cubs for the next seven innings. One of them was Keegan Thompson, making his Cubs and MLB debut. This is obviously a tough game to make your debut when the offense in both dugouts can’t stop hitting. Thompson threw a lot of balls and gave up a walk and a single but the defense behind him helped him get out of his first MLB inning without giving up any runs.

Alec Mills came in for a while, but he didn’t look as strong as he usually does, especially after hitting a guy, allowing a single, loading the bases, hitting Mike Moustakas and putting the Reds back in front. And then allowing a two-run single to make it 9-6 Reds. I think it’s probably okay to wipe the slate clean for every Cubs pitcher we saw, however, because of how weird this game was.

Who’s ready for injury? Thought the injuries would be over with this series? Think again. Hoerner and Ian Happ collided in the outfield in the 8th inning trying to catch a fly ball. Hoerner made the catch, the throw and the out while Happ was writhing on the ground in pain. After a ten-minute game delay, watching the poor guy stand up and immediately sit back down on the field and eventually get carted off the field, I knew nothing good could happen for the rest of the game. (Postgame, Ross said that Happ felt “fine, pretty good,” which I doubt, but there’s no word from team doctors yet about what’s up with him.)

By this point, Rossy had literally played everyone off the bench except for Contreras, who said he could play if absolutely necessary. And that’s exactly what happened. A defensive shuffle like no other ensued as Contreras put on his catcher’s gear, Tony Wolters went to second, Hoerner went to left field and Bryant went to center field.

Then it was time to watch Amir Garrett be the incredibly annoying man he is after striking out two Cubs and intentionally walking Hoerner, continuing to yell at people about how that’s what’s up. Hilarity ensued, however, when the Reds decided to pull him in exchange for Ryan Hendrix because the Cubs decided Jake Arrieta was next up to bat since 38 other people have pinch hit in this game. Arrieta struck out swinging, and in the bottom of the 10th Kimbrel’s passed ball and a Nick Castellanos single put us all out of our misery, with the Reds winning 13-12.

The Cubs are injured, now more injured than they were before. They are also exhausted, especially our bullpen. Things have been bad enough this season with none of our starters being able to get past the 7th inning, let alone to even still be pitching by the 7th inning. Now that seven (7) bullpen pitchers have played today, they will all be exhausted too.

And the best part about it all is that the schedule does not let up, oh no, that would be silly. The Cubs start a three-game series against the god damned Dodgers of all teams starting tomorrow. The Dodgers are 17-12 and no longer top of the NL West because the Giants are there, although the Giants have played two less games than the Dodgers so everything will right itself the way this league intended eventually. We will probably get crushed. See you then.

Baseball

Well, at least we know there’s a team somewhere in this league that sucks more than we do.

The Mets were honestly atrocious to watch nearly all series. Their fielding sucks, their batting sucks, their bullpen sucks…I was going to say their pitching generally sucks, but we didn’t see Jacob DeGrom this series. (And even when he does play, the Mets tend to lose anyway.)

At least the Cubs have won a series and looked…not horrific doing it?

April 20, 2021
Cubs 3, Mets 1
WP: Arrieta (3-1) LP: Walker (0-1)
Box Score

Contreras continues to be the biggest piece of trade bait on the Cubs. Although this 8-game hit streak ended the game before this, he was a part of two of the Cubs’ three runs this game. First he was able to reach first base in the 3rd inning, allowing Eric Sogard to score. He also walked in a bases-loaded situation in the 4th to score Sogard again.

Speaking of Sogard, yes, David Bote, was out of this game because he had some sort of stomach bug, and Sogard took his place. He was more than an able replacement, as he was able to top even Contreras as a part of all three Cubs runs this game. He scored twice and singled to score Heyward in the 4th. Other Cubs that got hits were Kris Bryant and Heyward, and that’s about it.

It’s been a hot minute since Craig Kimbrel had to make a save, but today was his big opportunity. He got himself into a bases loaded jam in the 9th, and every Cubs fan watching was probably at least a little skeptical about whether he could get out of it. But he was able to get a strikeout and a ground out to end the game, thankfully.

April 21, 2021
Cubs 16, Mets 4
WP: Mills (1-0) LP: Peterson (1-2)
Box Score

Good grief, the bats are either on it or they aren’t, huh?

The Cubs’ team batting average is officially at .201, thanks to a .12-point increase from this game alone. Things didn’t start out so pretty, however; the first inning started with a Mets home run off Zach Davies for the second batter to open scoring. Then we watched some hilarious Mets baserunning in the 2nd when Bote dropped the ball and couldn’t get the out at second base. The Mets baserunner, however, decided to run to third base anyway for kicks, where Matt Duffy promptly tagged him out.

The baserunning didn’t help the Cubs for long, as it only took some time in the 3rd for Davies to give up a single, a walk and a double to make it 2-0 Mets. Although the bats were dead for the first three innings, something sparked the Cubs in the 4th, because Contreras, Bryant and Anthony Rizzo singled three guys in a row and were able to score two runs. It also didn’t help that the Mets made another egregiously horrible baseball play, as it was now their time to drop the ball at second base. Unlike the Cubs, however, quick thinking didn’t save them any outs.

Matt Duffy, in at third base today, was able to walk soon after that, and a Bote single (wow!) scored two runners. Jake Marisnick scored Duffy, Sogard singled to score Bote, Ian Happ singled to score Sogard and things started to look pretty good for us. I don’t Sogard after these two games, but also the Mets are a really bad baseball team. Let’s see some more from him.

At this point, the score was 7-2 and it seemed like this game was pretty much in the bag, even though Rex Brothers came in to replace Davies in the 5th and immediately gave up a single and a homer to tighten the score slightly to 7-4. However, more horrendous fielding screw-ups by the Mets and then a Duffy single was able to score two Cubs to make it 9-4.

In the next inning, the Mets bullpen allowed three walks to load the bases and then a Baez grand slam just completely slammed the door shut for any Mets comeback, the score being 14-4. The Cubs weren’t done yet; they had a walk and three hits in the 8th inning to score two runners for that final score of 16-4.

April 22, 2021
Cubs 3, Mets 2
WP: Winkler (1-0) LP: Diaz (1-1)
Box Score

Well, Joc Pederson is on the 10-day IL thanks to an injured wrist, which means Nico Hoerner is officially up and available to play for the Cubs. We’ll see how that goes; for tonight, however, Happ was shifted to left to replace Pederson, Marisnick replaced Happ in center field, Kris Bryant in right field to give Heyward the day off, and Duffy at third base.

The Mets continued to be absolutely horrendous on the field, allowing a Contreras infield hit to score a runner to put us on the board. Not soon after, Bryant was able to double and score two people thanks to another overthrow to the catcher. Contreras and Trevor Williams scored on this play.

Speaking of Trevor Williams, although his outing wasn’t the best, it certainly wasn’t his worst either. He had 6 strikeouts, 5 hits, only 1 walk and 1 home run allowed. His outings still greatly excite his father, who is still doing the scorebook, which is quickly becoming the staple camera pan during every Williams start for Marquee.

Things were going okay until the 4th inning when Pete Alonso hit a 2-run homer to make this game close. Soon after, a double was reviewed to see if it should’ve been a home run because it hit the outfield netting. Luckily, the double call on the field was sustained, allowing the Cubs to cling to the one-run lead.

Williams was pulled for the 6th, being replaced by Jason Adam, who struck out one guy and allowed the defense to clean up contact with a fly ball and pop-up. After hitting Jonathan Villar in the 7th, he was pulled for Ryan Tepera who gave up a big double to center field that allowed the Mets to tie it up. Andrew Chafin replaced Tepera to get the important out.

Baez got on base in the 7th as the go-ahead run; he hit a fly ball to center field but the incompetence of the Mets’ fielding allowed the ball to drop on the ground. However, the throw to 1st was almost in time and Javy almost got caught off the plate. The ruling on the field was out but after a challenge that was overturned. It didn’t matter, however, because then Baez actually got caught stealing second base. Fantastic job, everyone.

Kimbrel closing the 9th allowed us to get to extra innings. Marisnick had a huge triple to start off the bottom of the inning, but in true Cubs fashion they were unable to bat in the runner in scoring position and got tagged out baserunning because of course. The Cubs got out of a huge jam in the 10th thanks to a double play. Heyward pinch batting won the game, scoring Baez at third base.

Did you enjoy not having to watch a team from the NL Central for the first time in over a year? Too bad. The Cubs now must prepare to get skulled by the Brewers again, who are sitting at the top of the division with an 11-7 record. See you then.