Kyle Schwarber continued his assault on MLB pitching on Saturday, hitting his 16th home run in only 52 games with the Cubs and increasing his team’s rookie home-run mark to a record 61. While he continued a recent trend of attacking first-pitch mistakes, the home run was somewhat un-Schwarber-like in that it was sky high and barely cleared the fence in right.
But whether it’s the first row of the bleachers or the upper deck, the run counts the same. Schwarber managed to remain upright during this particular trot, thus decreasing its entertainment value, but I’ll forgive him for not making us laugh. The homer was the only run the Cubs would score through the first 7 innings, eventually falling behind 5-1.
They eventually tied the game in the 8th and you got the feeling they were going to overwhelm their inpherior opponents in extras. That looked to be the case until Cody Asche touched up Hector Rondon for a 2-run home run in the bottom of the 9th. As an individual play, it was a bit of a fluke, but the Cubs bullpen hasn’t been all that great lately and this was not a good sign.
I feel as though this is just an example of an up-and-down unit being on the low end of the cycle, but it’s never fun to excuse away a walk-off loss to a bad team. Oh well, back at it again tomorrow.
Starting rotation gets a rest
We knew it was going to happen at some point, but with rain threatening the game Saturday night, Joe Maddon opted to slide his bullpen-led game up a day. Travis Wood and Trevor Cahill combined to throw the first 6 innings, and they were actually really effective doing so.
The pair allowed no runs on 3 hits and no walks, striking out 8 along the way. That’s a start you’d take any day of the week, let alone when you’re talking about having two of your relievers put it together. Unfortunately, their relief was anything but. Justin Grimm allowed just one hit and walked 3 en route to a 5-earned-run stint.
With Dan Haren taking the bump today and an off-day tomorrow, it means Jason Hammel will have had a full week’s rest by the time he starts the first game of a double-header in Pittsburgh Tuesday afternoon. Given the Cubs’ tight grip on the Wild Card spot, resting starters for the postseason has become an important issue. Now they just need to get that bullpen under control.
Papi hits 500
David Ortiz hit 2 home runs of his own tonight to get to 500 for his career and ignite a bit of a premature debate over his Hall of Fame worthiness. Due to a failed drug test from 2003, he’s lumped in with the rest of a large group of PED users (suspected or otherwise) who have been frozen out of the Hall.
I’m not debating the worthiness of his candidacy, but Papi does seem to have a big advantage over some of the sluggers alongside whom he’s often mentioned. Guys like Barry Bonds and Jim Thome put up monster numbers without the benefit of playing for a long time in the current era of increased testing and awareness.
Could be an interesting case study a few years from now.
Pelicans title run
From the team’s press release:
With a win against the Winston-Salem Dash in the Southern Division Championship Series on Friday, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, have clinched a trip to face the Wilmington Blue Rocks in the Mills Cup Championship Series (MCCS). The schedule for the best-of-five series is set, with Games One and Two slated for Sunday andMonday, September 13-14, at Frawley Stadium in Wilmington, Delaware. Game Three will be played in Myrtle Beach at TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark along with Games Four and Five, if necessarily.
For more information on the championship schedule, visit the team’s website. I’m interested to see whether and how Jorge Soler continues to get time for the Pelicans. Since they’re the only active Cubs affiliate left, the organization has little choice but to rehab him there. But given the man-among-boys nature of the competition, I’m not sure how much he can get out of it other than proving his health.