The Rundown: Cubs Ship Sinking Fast, Immediate Momentum Shift Needed, MLB Sets New HR Record

There are seven teams fighting for three playoff spots in the National League, and only one of them is showing no fight right now. If you watched the Cubs lose 4-0 to the Padres last night, then you don’t need me to tell you which team that is. Could things be any less exciting for fans of Chicago’s North Side baseball team?

The Cubs had three hits last night. Three. The players are just as frustrated as the team’s fanbase.

“It’s not fun,” said Anthony Rizzo, who led off the second inning with a triple but couldn’t score. “We’ve got to win games. Just because we won one game, doesn’t mean we’re going to catapult into a winning streak.”

At this point, nobody expects the Cubs to string any number of wins together.

“These next two-plus weeks, we just need to win,” the first baseman added. “I don’t care how it’s done. I don’t care if it’s pretty or ugly. We just have to win. If we don’t win games we’re going to be barbecuing too early.”

 

As it is, the Cubs now find themselves tied with the Brewers for the second Wild Card spot, so perhaps we’ll get to relive the nightmare of a Game 163 with our neighbors north of the Cheddar Curtain, only this time the Brewers would have the pleasure of hosting that game. Milwaukee won their season series with Chicago for the first time since 2014.

Two words that were used to define this season back in March, urgency and reckoning, feel like inside jokes to anyone who follows or works for the Cubs. Except possibly Joe Maddon, who surely must feel the sands slipping through the hourglass of his tenure in Chicago. Performances like last night do not a contract extension make, and the Cubs should rather be defined as a listless summation of inconsistency. Last night, therefore, could be considered one of several statement moments of the past two seasons of Cubs baseball.

There is some consistency in the team’s faults, however, namely situational hitting, relief pitching, and the ability to win on the road. That the Cubs are even hanging around in this year’s iteration of baseball’s Race for October is somewhat puzzling given their 30-44 road record. Chicago saw its postseason probability fall to under 50% with last night’s loss, and each of the seven teams hoping to continue their seasons into October seem to want it far more badly than the Cubs do.

The games still need to be played and though the feeling of doom and failure is beyond palpable for all of us, anything can happen. Just ask Maddon.

Cubs News & Notes

  • The Cubs are desperately in need of a momentum shift, something we’ve said in 22 of the 24 weeks of baseball played so far this season.
  • Though Maddon is certainly feeling the pressures of trying to get to the postseason while fighting to keep his job, perhaps some members of the front office should be feeling a little heat as well.
  • Senior VP Jason McLeod will transition from the player development side of the organization. What does that mean? McLeod has been middling at best leading the Cubs’ recent drafts, and it is entirely possible that the Red Sox may want to consider Jed Hoyer for their vacated position of president of baseball operations. The Cubs did not use the word “promotion” in their press release. The biggest criticism of McLeod is that the Cubs have failed to draft and develop impact pitching under his watch, but he will now be in charge of player personnel.
  • Early speculation was that the Cubs were trying to preempt Boston from hiring McLeod for an executive position after this week’s firing of Dave Dombrowski. However, Cubs staffers insisted such a connection does not exist. McLeod stated that he looks forward to his new duties but retains ambitions of overseeing an entire baseball department. Does anybody fear that Tom Ricketts may eventually give him that opportunity?
  • The Cubs have had three batting coaches and three pitching coaches in three seasons. At some point, one has to realize that any blame for this team’s penchant to play so poorly when their backs are against the wall belongs on the players and their manager.
  • Craig Kimbrel remains out indefinitely, and his absence may possibly extend deep into next week. Sounds awfully similar to the way the team has handled Brandon Morrow for the past 18 months.
  • In memory of the events of 9/11, Derek Holland commissioned MLB artist Mike Jordan to create some custom kicks to honor first responders.

How About That!

MLB set a new single-season home run record last night.

Orioles infielder Jonathan Villar hit the record-setting 6,106th tater of the season. Ironically, the Orioles have surrendered more home runs than any team in baseball this season.

ESPN analyst David Schoenfield breaks down which blasts have meant the most, and which have meant the least.

The Nationals are confident that Stephen Strasburg will not exercise his opt-out after this season. If Strasburg does explore free agency, president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo will have to contend with either re-signing or replacing both his best pitcher and his best offensive player, third baseman Anthony Rendon.

Ryan Braun wanted to give the Brewers some extra mojo going into last night’s game against the Marlins, so he decided to wear the jersey of star outfielder Christian Yelich under his own.

Mets rookie stud Pete Alonso bought custom cleats for the entire team to honor first responders on the nation’s anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It was truly a heartfelt tribute.

Wednesday’s Three Stars

  1. Chris Paddack – The Padres’ rookie was brilliant last night, holding the Cubs to three hits while punching seven tickets in seven innings of work.
  2. Jorge Soler – The former Cub hit two taters last night and now has 43 on the season. Soler was 4-for-5 on the night with four RBI as the Royals outlasted the White Sox 8-6.
  3. The Mets – New York’s National League entry collected 9 runs on 11 hits on the anniversary of 9/11, in their home stadium, against the team that won the 2001 World Series over the Yankees.

Extra Innings

It’s slightly premature, but since the Cubs are making front office moves with a focus on next season, it’s not out of the question to consider if the team should or can afford to keep Nick Castellanos after this season.

They Said It

  • “[The Brewers] are definitely playing well and we’re not. Somehow we’ve got to heat this thing up tomorrow and get back home, where we normally play a lot better.” – Joe Maddon
  • “I do think there is something to be said for bringing in a new skill set, a new perspective. As we were thinking about me potentially moving into this role, we had a lot of conversations about where we want to take player development and amateur scouting.” – Jason McLeod
  • “Jason has made immense contributions to the organization in his eight years supervising amateur scouting and player development. He helped build and grow two departments that were crucial in the Cubs’ rebuild, championship and run of sustained success. As his career has evolved, Jason is prepared for new challenges at the major-league level, where his strengths in evaluation, development and culture-building will be quite impactful.” – Theo Epstein

Thursday Walk Up Song

Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me by George Michael featuring a command performance by Sir Elton John. Time is slipping away from the Cubs and their beleaguered manager.

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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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