The Rundown: Cubs Blow Opportunity to Gain Ground, Bullpen Struggles Again, Bryant & Heyward Step Up
Tough loss for the Cubs last night, the 10th time an opponent has walked it off against the North Siders this season. The Padres won 9-8 with an infield hit and three walks in the bottom of the 10th inning as Steve Cishek couldn’t find the strike zone. The loss came on a night when the Cardinals, Nationals, and Diamondbacks all lost, but the Brewers won, and it cut Chicago’s Wild Card lead to one game.
If you’re not watching the standings as each game ends, let’s look at where the Cubs stand this morning.
- Cardinals 81-63
- Nationals 79-64
- Cubs 77-67
- Brewers 76-68
- Phillies 75-69
- Diamondbacks 75-70
- Mets 74-70
All it takes is for one team to get hot to separate themselves from the pack. The Cubs have every opportunity to do that as they are in a stretch where they play two more in San Diego, followed by consecutive three-game sets at Wrigley Field against the Reds and Pirates to start their final homestand of the season. Those are the teams that the Cubs are supposed to beat, and they’ll need to, because after that they get the Cardinals for seven of their final 10 games. Chicago’s last four games of the season will be played in St. Louis.
If you’re looking for a positive takeaway from last night’s game, it’s that two of Chicago’s more-maligned players each went yard twice. Jason Heyward now has 21 home runs on the year, easily his best power output since joining the Cubs in 2016. Kris Bryant, who missed the two previous games with a sore right knee that required a cortisone shot on Sunday, hit his 27th and 28th taters. Heyward seems to be finding his stroke again after a disastrous month-long stint as the team’s leadoff hitter.
It was nice to see both players bust out. J-Hey even showed a little thunder on his second blast.
It’s a two-homer game for Jason Heyward,
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 11, 2019
As good as Heyward and Bryant were, starter José Quintana was equally awful. He lasted just three innings, giving up six runs (four earned) on seven hits with one strikeout and no walks. From my vantage point, Q looked a little tired. Maybe it was the late start, or maybe, like the rest of us, he’s starting to feel the strain of what seems like the longest season in recent memory.
I’m somewhat confident the Cubs will take the final two games of this series, but they’ll need a better effort tonight. Cole Hamels, who attended San Diego’s Rancho Bernardo High, is 9-2 with a 2.45 ERA in 18 career starts against the Padres. He’ll battle rookie Chris Paddack, who has yet to face the Cubs in his career. The young hurler has allowed just one run over his last two starts.
Cubs News & Notes
- Addison Russell remains in concussion protocol after being hit in the face with a pitch in Sunday’s game at Milwaukee.
- Tyler Chatwood was the Cubs’ best pitcher of the night, going three scoreless innings with four strikeouts. He didn’t allow a baserunner and now has 14 punchouts in his last 9.2 innings, a span in which he has allowed just one run.
- Craig Kimbrel remains out indefinitely, and the Cubs’ front office indicated yesterday that his IL stint will exceed the minimum 10 days. Though he’s “responding well” to treatment, he won’t be activated today.
- Manager Joe Maddon said he is going to be less tolerant with his relievers for the remainder of the season. That’s a nice thought, though he resisted yanking Cishek despite the sidearmer’s inability to find home plate in the 10th.
- Then again, Maddon did use three pitchers in the 7th inning.
- Despite numerous setbacks and the kinds of adversity that would completely defeat many players, reliever Danny Hultzen never once thought he wasn’t going to make his way to the bigs.
- Here’s everything you may or may not want to know about rookie shortstop Nico Hoerner.
- Hoerner might just be the fix the Cubs need this season and beyond.
- Are the Cubs at risk of becoming baseball’s version of the 1985 one-and-done Bears?
- If the playoffs were to start today, the Cubs would travel to Washington to face the Nationals in the Wild Card game on October 1. The winner of that game would face the Dodgers in the NLDS.
- The Cubs probability of reaching the postseason slipped to 61% while the Brewers improved their chances to 25%.
How About That!
Last night’s Brewers win over the Marlins proved to be quite costly. Star outfielder Christian Yelich will miss the rest of the season with a fractured kneecap.
The Dodgers continued their dominating season with a 7-3 win over the Orioles, becoming the first team to clinch a 2019 division title. It is the seventh consecutive season that Los Angeles has won the NL West. Despite that run of excellence, this iteration of the ‘Bums has yet to win a World Series.
Into quirky numerical trivia? After yesterday’s 4-3 win over the Reds, the Mariners are now 1995-2019 since the start of the 1995 season.
Turnabout is fair play, especially for the Athletics. Oakland toasted the Astros 21-7 last night, making it the first time in the A’s century-plus of existence that the team scored 20 or more runs, compiled 20 or more hits and hit at least six home runs in a single game. Houston won the first game of their series 15-0 on Monday night.
The A’s had 25 hits last night, their most in a single game since 1969. Reggie Jackson went off that night, going 5-for-6 with 10 RBI, one of fifteen players to plate 10 or more runs in a single game.
Pirates reliever Kyle Crick was injured during a clubhouse altercation the other night. He’ll miss the rest of the season after having surgery on his finger.
Tuesday’s Three Stars
- Walker Buehler – The sophomore starter had another dominant effort against the Orioles, earning his 13th win of the season. Buehler had 11 punchouts in seven innings with no free passes and allowed just four hits. He now has 201 strikeouts on the season.
- Sean Murphy – The A’s rookie catcher is off to a great start to his professional career after going 3-for-5 with two home runs and four RBI.
- Zach Plesac – The Indians’ rookie pitcher tossed the first complete game of his career, scattering four hits to improve to 8-6 on the season. Plesac had five strikeouts.
It’s a good sign for the Cubs that Heyward and Bryant caught up with and destroyed a couple wicked fastballs.
Jason Heyward homered off a 99.9 mph pitch from Andres Munoz.
That's the fastest pitch that any Cubs player has homered off in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008).
Kris Bryant's HR off Munoz came of 99.6 mph, tied for the 2nd-fastest pitch a Cubs player has taken deep. pic.twitter.com/UIYfVV5hiz
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) September 11, 2019
They Said It
- “We came back. We fought hard. We all walked in ready to go. That’s definitely the toughest part, was the fact that we came down from that deficit against a really good, evading pitcher. To be able to walk off on a walk is probably the worst possible thing to do.” – Steve Cishek
- “[Cishek’s wildness] was kind of a surprise. He’s been pretty well rested. We didn’t see that coming. Even after he had walked a couple guys I still believe[d] he’s going to right himself. He’s a ground ball guy. He’s the best guy for us under those circumstances to throw a ball into the five-man infield. It just didn’t happen.” – Joe Maddon
- “I like hitting here. I really like this field. It’s probably my favorite park to play in. I think the lights are brighter here. Everything about this place is awesome. I like coming here to play. I’ll give credit to that.” – Kris Bryant
Wednesday Walk Up Song
Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty. Baker Street is famously known as the home of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. The Cubs could use the super sleuth to help them find their ability to put teams away.