The Rundown: Báez Keeps Cubs Rolling, Hamels Uncharacteristically Wild in Victory, Cubs Look to Sweep Dodgers
I’m not one to argue with Jason Heyward when he speaks of the magic of Javier Báez.
“You can’t read about Javy,” Heyward said. “You can’t read about him. You’ve got to watch him. You’ve got to watch what he’s doing. You’ve got to watch how he’s thinking on the field.”
You’ve got to watch El Mago waive adiós to a towering home run. You’ve got to watch him ignite his team game after game. Javy is so much fun to watch that some clever person created a cool fanfic site that is nothing but Báez highlights.
Please enjoy @javy23baez. #EverybodyIn pic.twitter.com/CefAS84Rzz
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 25, 2019
After last night’s thrilling 7-6 win, the Cubs are now two games above .500 for the first time this season. They’re 11-4 since that disastrous season-opening road trip and certainly look like anything but that 2-7 team that limped into Wrigley Field on April 8.
The Dodgers came into Chicago as the best team in the National League. The Cubs hope to sweep them back to Los Angeles with a win this afternoon. Jon Lester gets his first start since injuring himself running the bases in the home opener.
Cubs News & Notes
- Cole Hamels was uncharacteristically wild last night. He walked six Dodgers batters in 5 1/3 innings. Hamels issued just three walks in 26 innings across his first four starts this season and none in his last three.
- Despite his pedestrian outing, you can certainly make a compelling case that Hamels has been the best starter on the team since arriving from Texas last season.
- In the last 10 games entering Wednesday night, Cubs starters have averaged 6.4 innings per outing.
- José Quintana threw more sinkers than four-seam fastballs in Tuesday night’s win, per Statcast. Clearly Quintana’s altered pitch mix is working for him recently.
#Cubs starting pitchers last 10 games
1.39 ERA, 64.2 IP, 41 Hits, 15 BB, 70 K, 4 HR, 0.866 WHIP
José Quintana last 3 starts
0.86 ERA, 21.0 IP, 14 Hits, 3 BB, 25 K, 0 HR, 0.810 WHIP
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) April 24, 2019
- Walker Buehler’s velocity was eye-popping yesterday — his fastball touched 99 mph — but the Cubs were hitting the ball hard consistently and he didn’t record a strikeout until the 6th inning. Báez chased him after 5 2/3 with his game-tying home run.
- Considering Báez pulled 78% of his homers in 2017 and 59% in 2018, hitting only one to left this season shows a significant difference in his approach.
- Joe Maddon marveled over the evolution of Báez as a complete player since his first spring with the Cubs in 2015 when El Mago unsuccessfully lobbied to make the opening day roster.
- Closer Pedro Strop had his car stolen before yesterday’s game. According to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, the vehicle was jacked before the game and Strop was dealing with it “until the 4th inning” when he told police “I might have to pitch. I have to go.”
- I’m still not used to seeing the resurgent Heyward knock baseballs out of the park with such regularity, but I am enjoying it. Home runs are legitimately passé this season, but that doesn’t make them any less fun to watch.
- Heyward is enjoying his fast start to the season as much as we are.
- The Cubs made a couple roster moves before yesterday’s game. David Bote was reinstated from the paternity list and Alec Mills was optioned to Iowa.
- With Addison Russell eligible to return on May 3, outfielder Mark Zagunis could be the odd man out. That would leave the Cubs with only three true outfielders on the roster.
How About That!
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will make his major league debut on Friday. Let the service-time manipulation debate begin!
Struggling Yankees reliever Chad Green has been optioned to the minors.
It seems like the Yankees add a new player to the Injury List on a daily basis.
Giancarlo Stanton had a set back in his rehab and needed a cortisone shot for his ailing left shoulder.
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia asked Eduardo Rodríguez, “You want to see a nasty breaking ball?” Then he taught him how to throw it.
Angels reliever Cody Allen has been removed from closing duties by manager Brad Ausmus. Allen’s average fastball velocity is down more than two mph from the 94.3 mph he averaged in Cleveland in 2017, and he has bounced several curves in front of the plate recently.
Eddie Rosario reached 10 home runs faster than any Twins’ hitter in history, surpassing Torii Hunter. Rosario has gone yard in nine of his last 13 games.
The Pirates have been outscored 25-7 by the Diamondbacks in the first three games of their four-game series.
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Ketel Marte – The D-backs infielder homered from both sides of the plate, and Arizona won at PNC Park for the ninth straight time, beating the Pirates 11-2 on Wednesday night. Marte finished 2-for-5 with 4 RBI.
- Chris Paddack – The Padres rookie starter completely dominated the Mariners yesterday, allowing just one hit and one walk across seven innings with nine punch outs.
- Justin Verlander – The veteran starter was in vintage form last night, scattering four hits as the Astros pounded the Twins 7-1. Verlander had eight strikeouts and didn’t issue a single walk.
Rhys Hoskins extracted a little revenge against Mets’ relief pitcher Jacob Rhame last night. On Tuesday night, Rhame threw at Hoskins’ head twice. Hoskins went yard last night off the bespectacled pitcher and took about a day and a half to circle the bases. Just your basic [s]troll job. Call it the Trot Heard ‘Round the World.
Lovely night for a stroll …
Wouldn't you say, @rhyshoskins? pic.twitter.com/cNw8i88uey
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) April 25, 2019
They Said It
- “I know I can help my team win regardless of the night I’m having. Even if I’m bad on offense, bad on defense, I can come in here and help someone else out. It’s about winning… I just care about my teammates… The one thing is I don’t like to let my teammates down.” – Jason Heyward
- “Back then, [Báez] was a mental mistake waiting to happen, just based on energy and youth. He’s under control a bit [now].” – Joe Maddon
- “I thought tonight we had a great plan. [Hamels] doesn’t walk guys. He attacks the strike zone. I think for Cole it was a grind. I don’t think he really had the feel for his location.” – Dave Roberts
Thursday Walk Up Song
Unsatisfied by The Replacements. I don’t want to sound greedy, but I’d love to see the Cubs bury the Dodgers today and get their second sweep of the season. I’d be entirely happy with no Meat Loaf this year if that’s okay with Maddon.