Cubs Flex Mussels, Release the Crackin’ in Series Opener by the Bay
The Cubs offense has been absolutely humming since they headed to Milwaukee to dispatch the Brewers and really build some momentum for the playoff push. In the 24 games since July 29th, the Cubs have averaged 5.8 runs per game and have scored at least 8 runs seven times. Had they known they’d start hitting the ball like this, they could have avoided clipping Donn Roach or could have tried to make Dallas Beeler a star.
In all seriousness, the rotation has been doing its part more often than not, though, to be sure, there were a few hiccups here and there. For instance, one of the games in this stretch saw Jon Lester give up 7 runs early to Detroit as the Cubs lost 15-8. Then, in his very next start, the left allowed only a single tally as the Cubs walk-off 2-1 against the Indians.
Jake Arrieta was dealing on Tuesday night by the Bay, tossing filth like a disgruntled chimp at the zoo. He was so nasty, he could have been the cover art for a 2 Live Crew album. It’s just a good thing this game was in California, because what Arrieta did to the Giants is still illegal in at least 12 other states. There may be 50 Eskimo words for “snow,” but not a single utterance exists to describe what happened to Brandon Belt in his first AB. I think if we’re to dip into popular social media parlance though, “pwned” and “rekt” come closest.
Thing is, the Cubs didn’t need their ace to on his A-game, or his XXX-game if I’m keeping with the whole smut theme. That’s because they released the crackin’ in their all-out assault on Giants pitching Okay, so they might not have called upon that homophonous monster of maritime lore, but I did see a Schwarbeast running amok and flexing his, uh, mussels, which was unfortunate for starter Matt Cain.
Once one of the most feared pitchers in the game, Cain has been anything but able this season. The slider doesn’t really slide and the changeup doesn’t really change, or at least that was the case with the pitches he threw to Kyle Schwarber and Miguel Montero. Schwarber drove an 86 mph cement mixer out to right-center with an exit velocity of 108 mph to score the Cubs’ first 3 runs and Miggy turned an 84 mph mistake around to right at 109 to drive in 2 more.
Even after Cain left, the Cubs continued to shell Giants pitching. Yusmeiro Petit came on in relief and got off to a decent start by striking out Montero. Enter Starlin Castro, a man who hadn’t gone yard since June 12th, a span of 60 games; maybe he just needed someone to groove a nice four-seamer. Castro worked a 3-1 count and was just sitting dead red on the fastball that eventually ended up nearly 400 feet away. The exit velo on Castro’s HR was clocked at 106 mph, a very lofty total for a guy who hasn’t necessarily been making great contact this year.
It goes without saying that hitting lots of homers and scoring a good deal of runs is a good recipe for success, and that’s certainly the case for the Cubs. Heading into the game, they were 54-15 when scoring 5 or more runs and 27-11 when hitting 2 or more longballs. I suppose that means we all could have gone to bed after the 4th inning, right? Well, not so much. The bullpen managed to make things a little more interesting than necessary.
That’s where the heavy artillery comes in really handy though. This team is showing that it can slug with the best of ’em and that ability to put up runs in bunches has bought the Cubs a lot of leeway. You almost wonder if it’s made the ‘pen perhaps a bit too comfortable at times, but I’ll take a 7-run lead over a nail-biter every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
The Cubs are doing things most of us have never seen before. In fact, unless your early memory predates the establishment of the March of Dimes, you really haven’t seen this before.
ELIAS: The Cubs are 21-4 in their last 25 games, the best stretch for them since 1938.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) August 26, 2015
There’s still a ways to go, but this team is legit. If you’ve been acting like Debbie Downer and waking around playing your sad-trombone riff at every opportunity, perhaps it’s time to buck up and start enjoying things.