The Rundown: Cubs Win Contact High, Báez Breaks Ugly K String, Mets Struggling Defensively, Dodgers On 126-Win Pace

“Meet the Mets, meet the Mets,
Step right up and greet the Mets.
Bring your kiddies, bring your wife,
Guaranteed to have the time of your life.” – Ruth Roberts and Bill Katz, “Meet the Mets”

I’d like to add a line, with apologies to Roberts and Katz: “Beat the Mets, beat the Mets, hit it to Davis and beat the Mets.”

J.D. Davis is having a helluva bad series defensively, so those who thought trading Kris Bryant to New York for their third baseman might have been a nice get for the Cubs can please remain silent for the rest of the year. In fact, the Metropolitans’ entire infield looks like a modern day version of the Keystone Cops. For Cubs hitters who seem offended that every pissant pitcher from San Diego to Pittsburgh has a successful book on them, taking advantage of every break has worked out nicely this series.

In last night’s 16-4 win, the Cubs pounded out 13 hits and actually got their team batting average above the Mendoza Line for the first time since the first weekend of the season. Even better, 11 of 13 hits were singles up the middle or to the opposite field, which at least shows Chicago can be a force to reckon with when the clubhouse mindset is to make consistent contact. Nobody knows if they will continue to execute so effortlessly by simply putting the ball in play, but at least we know they’re capable of being so much more than the one-dimensional team the rest of baseball believes them to be.

The Cubs scored all of their runs in innings 4-8, most on singles. A grand slam by Javy Báez, a hustle double on a routine grounder by Willson Contreras, and another double by Jake Marisnick off of the thigh of Luis Guillorme, a career pinch hitter and backup shortstop working mop-up relief, were the only extra-base hits on the evening.

The game turned laughable when Báez batted left-handed in the bottom of he 8th. Kudos to the shortstop, who’s in a contract year, for not taking advantage of a team that had clearly given up by allowing an infielder to pitch.

Cubs hitters also coaxed eight walks from the New York staff and, thanks to four Mets errors and various other miscues, Chicago had a steady stream of baserunners all evening. With a gametime temperature of 39 degrees, there’s nothing like two touchdowns and a safety to warm the hearts of 8,000-odd fans who showed up looking like they arrived via snowmobile or dogsled.

The Northsiders will get an unexpected break tonight because two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom asked for an extra day of rest this week, so they’ll face Joey Lucchesi instead. Last night’s romp guaranteed the Cubs their second series win of the young season and a victory tonight would earn Chicago its first sweep of 2021, as well as get the team back to .500 while keeping them out of the NL Central cellar.



Cubs News & Notes

Climbing the Ladder

“He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.” – Sun Tzu

  • Games Played: 17
  • Total Plate Appearances: 617
  • Total Strikeouts: 171
  • Strikeout Rate: 27.7%
  • Team Batting Average: .201

Far be it from me to take credit for anything, but the Cubs have scored 36 runs in four games since I added this section to the daily. Being the superstitious sort I am, it’s now going to be a mainstay.

Odds & Sods

If this is true, shame on Gleyber Torres. I’ve never regretted the shortstop was the tender to acquire Aroldis Chapman in 2016 because flags fly forever. Still I find this news surprising.

How About That!

After starting the season 1-7, the A’s have reeled off 11 straight wins.

Jay Bruce, who may have been subject to more aggressive shifting by opposing teams than any single player, retired after 14 seasons. Since defensive shifting exploded in 2105, Bruce lost 107 points off his pull-side batting average and 92 points in BABIP to that side.

I feel now is a good time to once again remind everyone that I fully support banning the shift or at least sweeping regulation of the defensive strategy.

Rookie Tigers shortstop Zack Short, formerly with the Cubs organization, was impressive in his MLB debut. Short was acquired by Detroit in last year’s Cameron Maybin trade.

Former Cardinals outfielder Adolis García is tearing it up for the Rangers.

The Dodgers are on a 126-win pace and, because of last year’s shortened season and absent the normal World Series fatigue, could be the first repeat champion since the Yankees did it in 1999-2000.

As far as playoff expectations go, Mike Trout, Gerrit Cole, and Ronald Acuña Jr. are baseball’s most irreplaceable players.

Wednesday’s Three Stars

  1. Javier Báez – It’s been a rough year for the 28-year-old shortstop, so Javy gets the top spot for his grand slam, his left-handed at bat, and for not striking out in five PAs. El Mago entered the game with a strikeout rate of 48.4%, had struck out at least once in 12 straight games, and had multiple K’s in eight of those contests.
  2. Max Scherzer– The veteran ace blanked the Cardinals over six innings with nine strikeouts for his first win of the year.
  3. Nelson Cruz – The ageless wonder had another two-homer game for the Twins, going 2-for-5 with four RBI in a 13-12 loss to the A’s. Josh Donaldson and Jorge Polanco each had 4-for-6 games for Minnesota and Matt Olson was 3-for-5 with two taters for the A’s in the slugfest. The nearly-41-year-old Cruz has an unbelievable 224 OPS+ so far

Extra Innings

There are few things more majestic than a Javy Bomb, especially when the bases are loaded!

Sliding Into Home

I get COVID shot number two today. As I am not one to bully anybody into following my lead, I hope if you have not had yours you will consider getting it. I’d love to meet you all for a beer and some nachos in or near Wrigley Field sometime this summer.

They Said It

  • “I was happy with guys staying up the middle. A lot of singles, got a couple off the end that fell nicely, a couple jam shots. It just told me we’re staying up the middle with the right approach. I don’t know if we’ve had that many singles in quite some time.”David Ross
  • “You gotta trust the process and trust the baseball gods. It’s a long season. They’re gonna be good to me at some point.”Ian Happ
  • “It’s not very fun when you’re sucking and you’re losing. Results kind of drive us a little crazy. At the start of the year, results are so drastic. You can be hitting .100, and then the next thing be at .350 four games later, and vice versa.”Joc Pederson

Thursday Walk Up Song

That Was a Crazy Game of Poker by O.A.R. – Mills looks like every single dude you might see at an O.A.R. concert.

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