The Rundown: Cubs Ready for Brewers, Hamels as Staff Ace, Nats’ Madson Claims He Was Hurt Sunday Night

When the Cubs have the day off you play the video of David Bote’s walk-off grand slam thousands and thousands of times and add a little dubstep for background music. Or, if that’s not your thing, there’s always “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion:

Or Pat Benetar…

No more reminiscing, time to face the task at hand. The National League playoff race is a real gunslinging affair and the Brewers come to town not wanting to have to fight for one of two wild card spots. No, the Brew Crew wants blood as a means of tightening the National League Central race. This brief two-game set is particularly crucial for both teams, even with nearly seven weeks and two more series against each other remaining this season. A sweep by the Cubs would drop the Brewers five games back, while a Milwaukee sweep would cut the gap to one.

Needless to say, there is a lot at stake here. Including this series, the two teams will meet eight times before the season ends and how one team fares against the other could determine who gets a play-in game and who gets the winner of that game.

The Cubs will kick off the two-game set with Jose Quintana taking the bump, which should not be much of a surprise considering the way Q has manhandled Milwaukee. Since being acquired last year at the All-Star break, Quintana has made five starts against the Brewers and is 3-1 with a 1.06 ERA, allowing only 16 hits in 34 innings. In his three outings vs. Milwaukee this season, Quintana is 2-0 with a 0.95 ERA and the Cubs have won each game.

The Brewers failed to make an impact move at this season’s trade deadline, and just like last year, they’ve come out of the All-Star break playing middling baseball at best. Their 13-18 record since July 8 has allowed the Cubs to gain 4½ games in the standings. The Cubs are 8-3 vs. the Brewers this year, including five shutouts, and hope to continue that dominance today and tomorrow at Wrigley Field.

Cubs News & Notes

The most significant takeaway from Sunday night’s game will no doubt be the incredible walk-off grand slam from Bote that broke the internet, but let’s not forget that Cole Hamels established himself, at least for now, as the ace and stopper of this team’s rotation.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has a great piece on Bote’s rise from minor league afterthought to clutch super utility player. You”ll need a subscription to read it, but trust me it’s worth it…after you get your fill of Cubs Insider of course. Bote may be Chicago’s most popular rookie since William “The Refrigerator” Perry suited up for the ’85 Bears.

The Cubs aren’t complaining because they own the National League’s best record, but the team still may be searching for its identity.

For you Vegas junkies, the Cubs are a -333 favorite to win the NL Central over the Milwaukee Brewers (+325), St. Louis Cardinals (+1500) and Pittsburgh Pirates (+3000).

A look at Blue Jay’s phenom Vlad Guerrero, Jr. references Kris Bryant’s delayed entry into major league baseball in 2015. Bryant filed a grievance against the Cubs for the delay in service time.

Kyle Hendricks will work the second game in the upcoming Brewers series. Despite a career-low 7.5 K/9, Hendricks has struck out 35 hitters in his last 23.5 innings pitched, utilizing his curveball as an out pitch to right-handed batters.

How About That!

Braves’ rookie sensation Ronald Acuña Jr. led off both games of yesterday’s doubleheader against the Marlins with home runs. Acuña appears to be only the fourth player in baseball history to hit a pair of leadoff homers in a doubleheader. Two of the others, Rickey Henderson and Harry Hooper, are in the Hall of Fame.

After beating Zack Greinke and the Diamondbacks 5-3 last night, the Rangers are 10-9 in games against former Cy Young award winners and 43-59 against all other starters.

Leonys Martin, a popular presence in the Tigers’ clubhouse until he was traded to the Indians two weeks ago, has been fighting for his life after contracting a bacterial infection. The Cleveland front office revealed the gravity of Martin’s illness for the first time on Monday afternoon after releasing only limited details for several days out of respect for Martin’s family.

Nationals de facto closer Ryan Madson claims he was injured going into Sunday’s 9th inning disaster against the Cubs. Washington manager Dave Martinez said he was very surprised to hear about it when alerted by club staff a few minutes after Madson revealed the discomfort to reporters in a somewhat surprising interview.

Cardinals infielder Paul DeJong handed the Nationals their second consecutive walk-off loss with a two-run homer in the bottom of the 9th in last night’s 7-6 victory. I have a feeling Martinez may be fired after this season if Washington fails to make the playoffs, though he’s certainly done nothing to deserve that fate.

Monday’s Three Stars

  1. Nick Castellanos – The Tigers’ one-man wrecking crew was 5-for-5 with a home run and five RBI in last night’s 9-5 victory over the White Sox.
  2. Ronald Acuña – The phenom outfielder was 5-for-8 on the day with five runs, two home runs and five RBI as the Braves swept both games of a doubleheader against the Marlins. Oh, he stole a base in game one, too.
  3. Jacob deGrom – The Mets ace struck out 12 Yankees in 6 2/3 innings in an 8-5 victory for the Metropolitans.

They Said It

  • “I don’t take anything for granted. The Cardinals are playing a whole lot better, the Pirates have done a nice job, Milwaukee’s not going away. I get all that. But at the end of the day – and this has been my mantra forever – worry about the Cubs. Worry about [your own] guys.” – Joe Maddon
  • “Anytime you get placed into a pennant race, you start to discover a little bit more that’s in the tank that you might not necessarily have been able to go down and really gather.” – Cole Hamels

Extra Innings

Keith Olbermann handled the play-by-play for ESPN of last night’s Mets-Yankees game and it didn’t go over very well, apparently.

Tuesday Walk Up Song

I Heard it Through the Grapevine by Creedence Clearwater Revival. In my opinion, this is the best version of this song due to it’s swamp boogie feel.

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