The Rundown: Cubs Ride Offense and Starting Pitching During Hot Start, Báez Breaks Out, Bryant Sidelined, Dodgers-Astros Nearly Brawl
The Cubs are riding a powerful offense and strong starting pitching in their quick start to the season. Through five games, the 4-1 Cubs are averaging better than six runs per game and the rotation has kept their opponents listless at the plate.
First time through the rotation, Hendricks, Darvish, Chatwood, Lester and Mills have combined for a 1.80 ERA and 0.63 WHIP in 30 innings. They racked up 26 K vs. 5 BB with 14 hits allowed.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 29, 2020
After last night’s 8-5 victory, the Cubs have the largest division lead in baseball and have to feel good about taking the first two against a team picked by many to win the NL Central. The offense was led last night by Javy Báez, who slugged two home runs and a double on a 3-for-5 night. Alec Mills proved, at least for one start, that he has every right to be the team’s fifth starter. The 28-year-old-righty now has two career wins, both against Cincinnati.
Kyle Hendricks takes the bump tonight and Cubs fans are hoping he an piggyback on his stellar Opening Day effort as the North Siders look to bury the Reds. He’ll face Sonny Gray, who was nearly as good against the Tigers in his first start. Gray owns a 3-2 mark with 39 strikeouts in 36 innings against the Cubs. Hendricks is 6-3 in 17 career starts against the Red Legs.
Cubs News & Notes
- Everybody, including his teammates, loves watching Báez play, especially when he is on.
- David Bote also had a big night at the plate, as did Jason Kipnis.
- Trusting closer Craig Kimbrel to shed some of that rust in game situations could come back to bite the Cubs in the ass, especially with a shortened season.
- Kris Bryant missed yesterday’s game due to elbow soreness and is considered day-to-day.
- With Bryant sidelined, Anthony Rizzo — who once declared himself the “greatest leadoff hitter of all-time” — moved up to the leadoff spot for the 59th time in his career. Rizzo was 1-for-5 on the night.
- Rizzo told Báez to “just do that thing that everybody loves” before his first at-bat yesterday.
Odds & Sods
“My accuracy isn’t the best.” – Joe Kelly
We knew that the Dodgers-Astros games would be must see television, and if you didn’t get a chance to watch last night, or see the highlights, Kelly made sure that the Astros knew exactly how he felt about them. The reliever said after the game that nothing he did was intentional. Okay then, Joe. Jomboy Media provides an excellent breakdown.
Caveat emptor: Some of the language and graphics in this video are not suitable for the work environment, even if you are working from home (and the kids are around).
Apropos of Nothing
After Mills’ performance last night, look for José Quintana to ramp up his rehabilitation. When the injured starter returns, I hope David Ross finds a way to keep Mills in the rotation.
By the way, if you play The Next Episode by Dr. Dre with Snoop, Nate Dogg, and Kurupt, and simultaneously play a video of Ross talking during a presser, it sounds pretty cool on the instrumental breaks. The new manager has the perfect pitch to compliment the rappers. Some creative mind should do something with that.
How About That!
Reds players Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel are appealing to the league to be reinstated after being held out over COVID-19 concerns (subscription to The Athletic required).
Hall of Fame slugger Reggie Jackson feels that this year’s Mr. October will be the coronavirus.
Dusty Baker was more than a little upset at Kelly’s shenanigans last night and decried the Dodgers for playing “dirty baseball.”
MLB has postponed all of the Marlins games through at least Sunday, and the league rearranged its schedule so that the Yankees and Orioles could resume playing today.
The Marlins now have had as many as 17 members of their organization test positive for COVID-19, including 15 players. The league also reported that no other players on any of the remaining 29 teams have tested positive since.
Presidential candidate Joe Biden said “sports are probably not going to be able to happen” when asked specifically about MLB and NFL games yesterday.
The White Sox are off to a 1-4 start, and manager Rick Renteria isn’t happy about it. The Southsiders have played division rivals Minnesota and Cleveland so far.
Tuesday’s Three Stars
- Javier Báez – El Mago was 3-for-5 with a double and two taters to go along with three RBI, and made some great defensive plays.
- Merrill Kelly – The 31-year-old Diamondbacks starter took a no-hit bid into the 7th inning in beating the Rangers 4-1 last night. Kelly threw 71 of 104 pitches for strikes and finished with seven punchouts.
- Oliver Drake – It seems every year the closer for the Rays emerges seemingly out of nowhere and this year it appears Drake is that guy. He earned his second save of the season in Tampa Bay’s 5-2 win over the struggling Braves. the closer had three career saves entering this season, including one when he pitched for the Brewers in 2017.
Cup check – a baseball institution.
Tommy Pham got hit by a pitch in the one area you really don’t want to get hit. Hope he’s alright. ?
Two balls and one strike. pic.twitter.com/CJQkTTyPc8
— Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) July 29, 2020
Sliding Into Home
One silver cloud of watching games with no fans in attendance is that is relaxing for me while I monitor my health. Don’t get me wrong, I want everything to return to normal as quickly as possible, but even when it does, it’s going to be a long time before I can go to a game at Wrigley Field or even watch at my favorite bar. Right now, everybody is stuck watching from home, just like me.
They Said It
- “Look at this dugout. I mean, you can hate the Cubs, it makes no difference. But you’ve got to give it up to a team that’s showing this much fire and passion and enthusiasm that they are showing. There’s a lot of guys down there making tens of millions of dollars a year and they are coming to the ballpark like they’re playing for a high school team. And I don’t say that in a negative way in any form or fashion. In fact, it’s a compliment. And I’m sure a lot of people will get upset for me saying something nice about the Cubs but it is what it is.” – Thom Brennaman
- “[Báez] plans things out ahead of time. And then makes it look easy on the field. I think that’s part of it, his anticipation is off the charts, you know?” – David Bote
- “I’m not trying to make excuses for anybody. But, we’ve got to give a little bit of leash [with Kimbrel]. This is a really unique situation that we’re dealing with.” – David Ross
- “I mean, you have the Marlins saying, ‘We can’t do it.’ So I think they should probably just follow the science.” – Joe Biden
Wednesday Walk Up Song
All Eyez on Me by 2pac – The Cubs are making believers out of their harshest critics and Joe Kelly has gone full gangster. Though nobody knows what the future holds, baseball is definitely back, and already it’s a season for the books.