The Rundown: Cubs Escape Milwaukee with Win, Schwarber Makes Loud Noises, Jays Trade Stroman to Mets, More Deadline Intel

Kyle Schwarber decided he didn’t want the Cubs’ final game with the Brewers to be decided by a beleaguered bullpen. So the powerful left fielder smashed two home runs and plated seven runners in doing so to ensure the outcome wouldn’t come down to errors, ill-timed walks, and batters being hit by pitches. The game was pretty much over when he crossed home plate in the top of the 4th with the team’s seventh run of the game.

Or maybe the slugger just threw down the gauntlet and dared Theo Epstein to trade him. Either way, with yesterday’s 11-4 win, the Cubs managed to escape Milwaukee with a share of first place despite what has thus far been a disastrous 2-4 road trip. Three games in St. Louis starting Tuesday will determine whether the Cubs return to Chicago in first, second, or third place for a rematch with the Brewers starting Friday.

One thing is for certain: There will be positively no boredom during the Cubs’ stay in the Gateway to the West. In addition to a playoff-like atmosphere, the middle game of the series coincides with this year’s one and only trade deadline. Changes to the roster are certain, though anything the front office does this week is likely to be around the margins. If you’ve been expecting a blockbuster, you might find yourself a little disappointed.

The return of Ben Zobrist will heavily influence the way Epstein and Jed Hoyer approach the deadline. They were unlikely to trade for Eric Sogard after the Zobrist announcement, and the Blue Jays moved him to Tampa Bay once Chicago was no longer a suitor. Don’t count on Whit Merrifield coming to the North Side either. If anything, the Cubs will probably try to grab another relief pitcher, though it wouldn’t shock me if Derek Holland remains the team’s only acquisition this year.

The asking prices for established veterans remains insanely high, which may mean an advantage exists in waiting up until the last few hours before the deadline to strike a deal. Supply will undoubtedly outweigh demand by a wide margin at that time, particularly for teams (like the Cubs) that aren’t looking to acquire star power. Zobrist will be the professional hitter the Cubs were seeking and Holland will be their lefty specialist. If anything, the Cubs may seek to move recently acquired third catcher Martín Maldonado.

The return of Cole Hamels from his oblique strain will be a huge boost and he will pitch one of the first two games of the homestand if he has no setbacks following Sunday’s rehab outing. With that, the Cubs roster until September expansion will be set. Epstein and Hoyer may well go into the stretch run battling the Cards and Brewers with essentially the same troops that have had them fighting for first place all season.

Cubs News & Notes

  • Trouble just seems to follow infielder Addison Russell wherever he goes, even when it is not his fault.
  • Zobrist’s return has all the feels of a Hollywood ending for the Cubs this year.
  • Milwaukee had its Air & Water Show this weekend and the flyovers above Miller Park were both startling and amazing. Maddon’s reaction was priceless. I live about three miles from the stadium and those Thunderbirds shook the walls of my condo and set off car alarms on my street.
  • Tuesday’s game will be showcased by MLB TV as Yu Darvish will take the bump and face Adam Wainwright. Darvish has a 2.00 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 18 innings since the All-Star Break and I’m expecting a big game from Ian Happ.

Deadline Intel

The Mets acquired starter Marcus Stroman from the Blue Jays, giving a bizarre twist to the trade deadline as New York now seemingly controls the pitching market. The Mets have about a 9% chance of reaching the playoffs and a 0.3% chance to reach the World Series, according to FanGraphs.

Trevor Bauer’s frustration boiled over Sunday against the Royals, culminating in the Indians right-hander firing a ball from the pitcher’s mound into center field prior to his removal. Although he was apologetic after the game, his actions obviously did not paint him in the best light. It shouldn’t affect any trade value he may have because Cleveland is now solidly in the AL Central race.

The A’s have inquired about some of the top arms potentially on the trading block, including the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler, and Tigers reliever Shane Greene.

The Yankees have also asked the Tigers about Greene.

Nick Castellanos was scratched from yesterday’s game which started a flurry of Cubs-Tigers trade rumors, but the outfielder was actually injured and is considered day-to-day.

If the Dodgers, who are eyeing their seventh straight NL West crown, have one area to address, it’s the bullpen.

The Rangers are expected to start moving players, including starter Mike Minor, as soon as today.

How About That!

The Yankees avoided a four-game sweep by the Red Sox thanks to starter Domingo Germán.

Paul Goldschmidt had hit home runs in six consecutive games heading into Sunday, but his streak ended in the Cardinals’ 6-2 loss to the Astros.

Now that the Blue Jays have traded Sogard, top prospect Bo Bichette and has been called up from Triple-A to take his place.

The Rays came back from a seven-run deficit to beat Toronto 10-9.

The Giants have been struggling offensively and are reassessing their short- and long-term goals for the rest of this season.

Sunday’s Three Stars

  1. Kyle Schwarber – Two home runs and seven RBI is a monster weekend for some players. Schwarber single-handedly carried the Cubs to victory yesterday.
  2. Mike Yastrzemski – The Giants rookie outfielder was 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and two RBI.
  3. Stephen Strasburg – The Nationals co-ace pitched a gem yesterday, tossing seven innings of one-run baseball with nine strikeouts against the Dodgers.

Apropos of Nothing

The Bears have themselves a placekicker and he boomed a 63-yard field goal in camp yesterday. Where was this guy in January?

Extra Innings

I saw Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood last night and was floored when Tarantino included the trailer for the movie C.C. and Company in his film. The B-lister rip-off of Easy Rider was my old man’s favorite movie because it starred Joe Namath and Ann-Margret. I love it when a repressed memory explodes right in front of you when you are least expecting it. I probably watched that movie fifteen times in the 1970’s. Dad always referred to the former Jets QB as Joe Willie White Shoes. Ahh, fun times.

Tarantino gets a lot of flak because Margot Robbie had a minimal amount of lines in her portrayal of Sharon Tate. I liked that approach, however. Tate was tragically killed before most people knew who she really was and he preserved her mystery, which I think was a nice touch. That being said, I find her incredibly interesting based on Robbie’s interpretation, so I hope one day we see a film based on Tate’s life.

1969 was such an iconic year. We had Woodstock and Altamont, the Apollo 11 moon landing, the break-up of the Beatles, the debut of the internet, the births of Jennifer Aniston and the Montreal Expos, the Chicago Seven trial, the Tate murders, and C.C. and Company. Oh yeah, the Cubs’ collapse too. Happy 50th anniversary to everybody.

They Said It

  • “We control our own destiny. We played some really good baseball even though some things didn’t go our way. We just have to be able to keep carrying that through the rest of the season. We know what we’re capable of and know we can be better and more consistent.” – Kyle Schwarber
  • “[Miller Park] is like a driving range the way the ball comes off the bat. It’s incredible. I don’t know what it is. It just comes off hot and it goes far easily in this ballpark.” – Joe Maddon

Monday Walk up Song

Head Over Heels by The Go-Gos. As in War Bear got us feeling like…

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