The Rundown: Nico Hoerner Has a Night, Seeing 2020 More Clearly, Schwarber Continues Hot Stretch

I couldn’t stay awake until the end of last night’s game, but it was nice to see that the bullpen was able to hold the lead in the Cubs 10-2 victory over the Padres. However, I suppose the big news of the night was the debut of Nico Hoerner. The rookie shortstop had himself a game, didn’t he. I drifted to sleep to the sounds of the San Diego crowd shouting “Nico!” knowing that the Cubs have themselves a real ballplayer on their hands.

There’s no better way to start your career than a 3-for-5 night with four RBI and your first big league triple. Hoerner made sure to thank his fans before leaving Petco Park last night.

Aw, shucks. He looks like a kid.

“I didn’t know I’d get three hits today,” a smiling Hoerner said after the game. “You can’t expect a result like that every time, but I felt normal out there. I feel like I’m in a good place to help the team going forward.”

Before we bury Addison Russell on the depth chart or banish him to the waiver wire, it’s good to know that Hoerner can handle major league pitching and play a pretty nifty shortstop. But you have to admit, it sure felt like we were privy to a glimpse of the 2020 season last night. If he can play second base, and every indication is that he can, he certainly gives the Cubs a lot of options this winter. Their parade of second baseman has been motley at best this season. He’s not going to be their answer at leadoff, and at his age he shouldn’t be, but he may prove to be capable in that role with just a little seasoning.

Don’t laugh, but the Cubs are carrying eight players who could see playing time at the keystone the rest of this month: Ben Zobrist, Ian Happ, Addison Russell, David Bote, Daniel Descalso, Tony Kemp, Robel Garcia, and Hoerner. I suppose if Javy Báez weren’t injured you could include him, too. That type of redundancy is unheard of, at least to my recollection.

As for the Cubs’ pitching corps, they held their own against a Padres team with little to play for right now. Kyle Hendricks has looked anything but comfortable on the road this season, but he was composed and delivered the type of performance we have come to expect. He never really seemed in trouble, and though Hendricks was far from dominating, he brought home a win, holding San Diego to just one earned run in 5.2 innings.

So for at least one day, the needle is pointing up for the Cubs. They gained a half game on the idle Cardinals and sit four behind for the NL Central lead. The Diamondbacks lost and the Brewers won, so the Cubs have a two-game cushion for that second Wild Card spot. The North Siders will have to keep on winning, as Milwaukee has a pretty easy schedule to close out the season, facing just one team playing better than .500 baseball.

Cubs News & Notes

How About That!

The Astros are just about unbeatable right now and they really aren’t even allowing opposing teams to look competitive. They blasted seven home runs in a 15-0 win over Oakland last night, including this moon shot by Yordan Álvarez. Houston has outscored its opponents 56-15 during their current five-game winning streak.

The Yankees finished their season series with the Red Sox last night, beating Boston 5-0. New York took 14 of 19 games between the two teams this year.

Who will replace Dave Dombrowski in Boston? Here’s a list of 17 names to consider, including Theo Epstein and Billy Beane, both admittedly long shots.

The first move Boston’s next head honcho may make could be to trade outfielder Mookie Betts, who is set to become a free agent after next season.

Pete Alonso is good at baseball and will likely break the record for most home runs by a rookie. That record belongs to Mark McGwire, who hit 49 in 1987.

The Diamondbacks have been on fire for about two weeks. Here’s what they need to do to make the playoffs.

Monday’s Three Stars

  1. Yordan Álvarez – The Astros rookie went 2-for-5 with a pair of solo homers and now has a 1.082 OPS on the season.
  2. Pete Alonso – The Polar Bear went 2-for-4 with two solo homers of his own, boosting his season total to 47 as he continues to gobble up records like Mike Canter in a vintage vinyl shop (this is Evan typing).
  3. Nico Hoerner – As the first member of the 2018 MLB draft class to make the majors, many worried that the Cubs were rushing him. But the kid has never looked out of place at any previous level and he’s got the kind of unflappable makeup that can survive a jump to the highest level.

Apropos of Nothing

I had tickets to see Air Supply in Milwaukee on Saturday night but I opted to stay home and watch the Cubs game instead. The outing was supposed to be a bit of a lark — I mean, come on, Air Supply — but they apparently slayed it at Pabst Theater. By all accounts, their encore of “Lost in Love” was nothing short of majestic.

Extra Innings

Dodger Dogs are number one? Really?

They Said It

  • “To see [Hoerner’s] name in the lineup and have him show up and keep his composure and do his job really well, it was definitely a real breath of fresh air for where we’re at right now. I don’t know if he could have asked for a better night.” – Ben Zobrist
  • “What you saw tonight is what I saw in spring training. Just a great opening night for him. I’m really happy for him.” – Joe Maddon
  • “[Hoerner] brings a whole different energy. It lifts the whole club up. We were so fired up in the dugout for him.” – Kyle Hendricks
  • “The doctors said the shot would help, and today it definitely feels a lot better. Since the All-Star break, I’ve been getting treatment to make it feel better. But sometimes, it seems, we just can’t catch up.” – Kris Bryant

Tuesday Walk Up Song

Doctor My Eyes by Jackson Browne. What a debut by Hoerner, and more Yacht Rock for the San Diego trip.

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