The Rundown: Cubs Win Again, Brewers Streaking Into Wrigley, Darvish Continues to Labor

With yesterday’s 4-1 victory over the Marlins, the Cubs come out of a trap series having won three of the four games. They’ll head into a weekend series against the Brewers in first place by a full game over Milwaukee and a game and a half over the Cardinals. A two-run jack by Anthony Rizzo – his 200th as a member of the Cubs –  sealed the victory for the North Siders.

It would be nice if the Cubs can continue at their current pace and put some real estate between themselves and their rivals north of the Cheddar Curtain. The Brew Crew will arrive at Wrigley Field today equally hot, having won six straight games. Both teams are thriving thanks to dominant offensive production combined with fantastic pitching performances.

Milwaukee has outscored their opponents 28-12 during their current streak, finally achieving a positive run differential (+2) on the season. The Cubs are also humming along nicely, having outscored their opponents by 57 runs. In fact if we looked at the standings by pythagorean records, things aren’t quite as compact at the top of the division:

  • Cubs 22-12
  • Cardinals 20-17
  • Brewers 20-19

That being said, the Brewers have a strong bullpen to thanks for their ability to shorten games in which they hold a lead after six innings, even after losing closer Corey Knebel. The Cubs have relied on superb starting pitching and an offense that tends to put teams away early and often.

In their first trip to Wrigley Field this year, NL MVP Christian Yelich and the Brewers will face Cubs left-hander José Quintana (4-1, 3.40), who is 4-0 in his past five starts. Gio González (0-0, 2.61) makes his third start of the season for Milwaukee.

It’s going to be an interesting series, and the Cubs could end the current home stand sitting anywhere from first to third place. It’s not a must win series, but it’s certainly a nice-to-win three game set.

Cubs News & Notes

  • The Cubs have homered in 15 straight games, matching their best run since the 2002 season.
  • Javier Báez makes sliding into third look too smooth to be real.
  • The Cubs defense has been slumping of late despite the team having won 10 of its last 11 games.
  • Nobody knows exactly what is happening regarding Ben Zobrist, but it looks like he may be absent from the team for quite some time. “Those are the things you do in these moments,” Maddon said. “You think about your internal relationships with your family. You never run away from your folks, from your people regardless of how awful the situation is or seem[s] you need to be there.”

How About That!

Albert Pujols collected his 2,000th career RBI on a home run yesterday. The fan who caught the ball is refusing to give it to the Angels’ slugger. Pujols said Ely Hydes, the fan who owns the ball, “has a right to keep it.” MLB can not authenticate a baseball once it is removed from the stadium.

The Nationals put an end to the Dodgers’ ten-game home winning streak.

The temperature at first pitch of Thursday’s series finale between the Giants and Rockies at Coors Field was 39 degrees and soon after, a steady snowfall caused accumulation on the warning track. It was the second-coldest game in San Francisco-era history for the Giants, as a game that began in 38-degree weather in April, 2013 at Wrigley Field against the Cubs was slightly chillier.

The Cardinals scored 17 runs yesterday and didn’t hit a single home run. It was the most runs scored by St. Louis without going yard since an 18-3 win against the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 22, 2008.

Wade Miley extended his streak of consecutive starts allowing three or fewer earned runs to 24 games. He notched his 1,000th career strikeout to boot.

After Dee Gordon was hit by a pitch and removed from yesterday’s game, Mariners’ first baseman Edwin Encarnación played second base for the first time in his career.

Thursday’s Three Stars

  1. Tyler Austin – In his first start of the season, the Giants’ outfielder hit two home runs with six RBI. It was Austin’s fourth career multi-home run game and his first since he hit two for the Minnesota Twins on August 26, 2018 against the A’s.
  2. Patrick Corbin – The Nationals’ starter fired seven smooth innings of shutout baseball with eight strikeouts in earning his third win of the season.
  3. Nolan Arenado – The slugging Rockies’ third baseman was 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI and reached base five times in yesterday’s 12-11 win over the Giants.

Extra Innings

Oh for the days of 80-degree weather and a shirtless broadcaster calling a game from the centerfield bleachers.

They Said It

  • “It’s still way early in the season, but we’re playing our best baseball of the whole year.” – Kris Bryant
  • “I’m interested to see what it’s like when [Milwaukee] comes here because last month’s games were exciting. Last year is still fresh in guys’ minds. It seems like one game makes all the difference in the world. Playing those guys should be fun. I know it’s May and it’s only one game, but it gives you a measuring stick at this point in the season.” – Brad Brach
  • “I’m not happy to take that trip to the IL because you take a couple months to prepare to be ready for this point to help the team win and it’s tough. But the way I felt, I wasn’t able to help. Everybody could see it. Not making excuses, but I wasn’t able to be myself.” – Pedro Strop
  • “I don’t think you can fake what’s really true in your heart. And what’s true in my heart is being a better person and continuing to get better.” – Addison Russell
  • “I’m not in it for the money, I just came here for the beer and a game.” – Ely Hydes

Friday Walk Up Song

With a Little Help From My Friends by Joe Cocker – Thank God for Mike Montgomery yesterday, am I right?

This Beatles’ cover by rocker Cocker was one of the highlights of Woodstock, the festival that is celebrating its 50th anniversary this August. This bold and wonderfully arranged version conjures two memories for guys my age: its use as the theme song of the sentimental boomer-comedy The Wonder Years, and the piss-take, spot-on impersonation of Cocker performed by a more-than-slightly unhinged John Belushi in the early days of Saturday Night Live.

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Michael Canter

Favorite Quote: "Look Ma! Top of the World!" Cubs fan since I was five years old (1969): lover of B&W movies, the Oxford Comma, classic rock, and of course, baseball; annual roto-champ; partial insomniac; I detest the liberal use of the word 'albeit' by baseball writers; Nice guy, though somewhat brooding. Comment me, please and thank you.

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