The Rundown: Rizzo Leading Off, Darvish Not Ace-Like, More Cubs Notes

I don’t like when the Cubs bat Anthony Rizzo lead off. I know everyone loves the novelty of it and there is no denying he has been sensational, but I’d rather him come up with men on base. Is he really getting that many more ABs batting first as opposed to batting third? I like the dynamic of Almora Jr. and Baez at the top of the order and I hope Joe Maddon will continue to go to that well.

Rizzo expressed excitement over batting first, especially after being reminded that he declared himself the greatest leadoff hitter of all time last year. Maddon put Rizzo at the leadoff spot last June and the Cubs first baseman responded with six hits in seven games, including three home runs.

More troublesome is Yu Darvish. When a team shells out the kind of coin that the Cubs did to sign a top-of-rotation starter, you’d like one who pitches like an ace. A stat line of 4.1 IP, 6 R, 5 ER, 7 H, 8 K, and 3 BB and an ERA of 6.00 after 30 innings isn’t very ace-like. Further, the trend of Darvish failing to go deep into games persisted as the prized free agent couldn’t get past the 5th inning for the fourth time in six starts. The 11-2 loss is not even worth talking about, though the Cubs did finish the homestand with a 5-2 record as they head to St. Louis for a weekend series with the Cardinals.

Cubs News & Notes

In honor of the 20-year anniversary of Kerry Wood’s 20-K game, why not bring up some of the Sammy Sosa stuff? The Cubs won’t move off of their requirements to bring Sosa back and Sosa doesn’t seem intent on meeting those requirements, so can we all just move on for good?

Ian Happ has a 45.4 percent strikeout rate but is in no apparent danger of being sent to the minors. The Cubs demoted a similarly struggling Kyle Schwarber to the minors for a couple weeks last season and it seemed to help, but, at least for now, Happ remains with the big league team.

On Tuesday night, the Rockies became the first team to lead off a game at Wrigley Field with consecutive homers since the Boston Bees in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Aug. 6, 1937, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It was the third time they accomplished the feat in franchise history.

Adbert Alzolay is pitching well at Iowa.The organization’s best hope for an impact arm took a no-hitter into the 6th inning of Monday’s game against Omaha.

How About That!

Albert Pujols is two hits from No. 3,000. He got two Wednesday night for the Los Angeles Angels, and can reach the milestone at home against Baltimore this weekend.

James Paxton was absolutely dominant last night, but the Mariner’s bullpen cost him a victory against Oakland. The Mariners’ lefty was the first American League pitcher to earn a no-decision after striking out at least 16 in a scoreless outing since Oakland’s Vida Blue on July 9, 1971, vs. the California Angels.

The Atlanta Braves are in first place.

Luis Severino of the Yankees threw his first career complete game and first shutout, blanking the Astros 4-0.

Mets third baseman Todd Frazier is asking for a meeting with Commissioner Rob Manfred over his growing frustration with the way umpires are calling balls and strikes. “I’m not making excuses. We lost fair and square,” Frazier said. “The kid pitched a hell of a game. But these umpires gotta get better. Bottom line.”

Mets starter Jacob DeGrom threw four dominant innings against Atlanta before leaving due to an hyperextended elbow. The team will examine him today. DeGrom has a streak of 18 1/3 scoreless innings.

I’m speechless:

Wednesday’s Three Stars

  1. James Paxton –  On his way to 16 strike outs over 7 scoreless innings, Paxton generated and obscene 30 swings-and-misses in a 105-pitch effort.
  2. Mookie Betts – The Red Sox OF was 4-for-4 yesterday with three home runs; he is hitting .365/.451/.823, is tied for the major league lead with 11 home runs, and leads the American League with 32 runs, that .823 slugging percentage and that .365 average.
  3. Edwin Encarnacion – The Indians’ slugger matched Betts with a three-homer game in Cleveland’s 12-4 win over the Rangers.

Hot Takes & Syrup

  • Longtime MLB pitcher Bob Tewksbury holds the position of mental skills coach for the San Francisco Giants, something that is becoming trendy in the major leagues. I find this slightly amusing because I think of this:

They Said It

  • “The ownership they have to understand that I’m a humble man, I’m not a man to have ego, when I was playing I was a little bit because I was focused on what I was trying to do. But right now I’m gonna be 50 years old. I’m a granddaddy, I’m a grandparent, so things change. So if I made a mistake, I don’t have to say that but if I made a mistake, I didn’t want to offend anybody I don’t have a problem with that, I’m sorry because you know, I was in my zone.” – Sammy Sosa
  • “That game belongs in Lake Michigan with some cement shoes tied around it. That was awful. That was right out of the Roaring ’20s. Throw it away. I’m going to throw it out in my ’85 Oldsmobile driving back down Lake Shore [Drive].” – Joe Maddon
  • “I made the imagery program for [Cubs pitcher] Jon Lester because he was searching for another edge. Imagery is way to help your confidence but it is also an exercise of concentration. It is a visualization technique that takes deliberate meditation to stay focused on the tasks. The other part of it is talking about the game: What were you thinking in the third inning when you had two guys on and nobody out? It’s the same as psychotherapy: if the client is not 100% honest with the counselor, they really can’t help them. And so if the player shares his true feelings about when he was on the mound, then I can map out a plan.” – Bob Tewksbury

Thursday Walk Up Song

Everyday People by Playing For a Change. The empowering video features Turnaround Arts students alongside Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, Paula Abdul, Misty Copeland, Elizabeth Banks, Keb’ Mo, Forest Whitaker, and many more performing this timely song by Sly and the Family Stone.

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