The Rundown: Cubs Clicking on All Cylinders, Suzuki Off to Historic Start, Giants Coach Makes History, CBA No Cure for Tanking

“Sioux City Sue then told it all, those girls got drunk and they had a ball, crying hey, hey, there’s good rockin’ at midnight.” – Robert Plant & the Honeydrippers, Good Rockin’ at Midnight

Seiya who? I’m all about the love I dutifully owe Nico Hoerner, who is flashing the leather (and wood) of one Don Kessinger in the early part of the season. He may have to trademark that Derek Jeter-like deep-in-the-hole assisted putout if he continues to make a mockery of the game’s more heralded shortstops. Where in the name of everything unholy did that cannon come from? If I didn’t know better I’d say he had the right arm of Shawon Dunston transplanted to his shoulder over the winter. Oh, doctor!

Truth be told, Seiya Suzuki was the star of yesterday’s game, accounting for all the offense starting pitcher Drew Smyly needed in the 2-1 win over the Pirates. Suzuki launched two solo shots and is off to a torrid start, leading the Cubs in home runs (3), RBI (8), and SLG (1.167). It’s an unsustainable pace, but the rookie outfielder has reached base nine times through 17 plate appearances. Suzuki’s plate discipline is off the charts, and it seems he does nothing but barrel baseballs.

Kudos to Smyly as well. There was nothing overly exciting about Tuesday’s profile, but he managed the strike zone extremely well, got 14 boring outs, and had one strikeout. With Kyle Hendricks taking the bump today, Chicago has now gone one full turn through the rotation and their starters have allowed just two earned runs. Considering most pitchers are still struggling with command, it’s nice to see what was deemed a weak spot exit the gate with a string of strong starts. David Ross has limited each to five innings and change and they’ve responded well.

The Cubs are clicking on all cylinders right now and have a chance to go 4-1 with a win today. Don’t forget, today’s game starts at 11:35am CT. Set your DVR if you have to work.

Cubs News & Notes

  • Suzuki is off to a historic start with the Cubs. The 27-year-old is the only major league player with eight-plus RBI and four-plus walks in his first four career games in 101 years of record-keeping, according to STATS.
  • It’s early, but the Cubs are playing the type of baseball this roster was built for.
  • Though we complain about the frugality of Tom Ricketts at an almost relentless pace, Pirates fans think the Cubs are big spenders.
  • Speaking of which, I still have a hard time buying that Pittsburgh is a “small market team.” The city has proven it will support the Steelers, and by comparison, Milwaukee has a smaller demographic of adults aged 21-34. My point is that baseball is a lot better when the Pirates are competitive, and you only have to go back to 2013-15 to jog your memory. Those great ’70s teams that included Willie Stargell, Roberto Clemente, Dock Ellis, Richie Hebner, Bob Moose, and Manny Sanguillen were a hoot, too.
  • Expect the hostilities between the Cubs and the Brewers to continue through this year and possibly beyond. “It seems to be a trend,” said David Ross.
  • Ross served his one-game suspension Tuesday, with bench coach Andy Green acting as his proxy.
  • David Robertson pitched a scoreless 9th inning to earn his second save of the season. He hasn’t been named the team’s official closer, but it looks like the job is his to lose right now.
  • Lance Brozdowski of Marquee Sports Network posted his top 25 Cubs prospects, and he’s as high on Pete Crow-Armstrong as I am.
  • In fact, Brozdowski’s top 10 are the same as mine, just in a slightly different order. You can tell that Chicago’s prospects are finding their legs as professional ballplayers because most scouting services name the same players in their lists. That bodes well for the upcoming midyear organizational rankings.
  • ESPN ranked the Cubs’ City Connect jerseys at No. 8 of nine, though the White Sox took the top spot, which is a bit of a head-scratcher. If I had to choose, I’d go with the Nationals’ duds, hands down.

Odds & Sods

Stupid, sexy Sean Murphy!

Climbing the Ladder

“Try to pick yourself up, carry that weight that you can’t see. Don’t you know it’s alright?” – Genesis, Tonight, Tonight, Tonight

Suzuki is carrying the Cubs offensively right now, but please raise your hand if you thought Chicago’s starters would be this good this early. Through four games, Smyly, Hendricks, Justin Steele, and Marcus Stroman have held the opposition to two earned runs in 20.1 innings of work with two wins.

Wade Miley has started some light throwing and there is still no timetable as to when he’ll return. If the Cubs need a fifth starter before Miley is ready, Ross could choose Keegan Thompson or run with a bunch of relievers starting with Jesse Chavez.

  • Games Played: 4
  • Total Plate Appearances: 149
  • Total Strikeouts: 37
  • Strikeout Rate: 24.8%
  • Team Batting Average: .242

MLB News & Notes

Alyssa Nakken made history last night when she took the field in the 3rd inning of yesterday’s game as a substitute first base coach for the Giants. Nakken received a warm ovation from the crowd at Oracle Park and a congratulatory handshake from first baseman Eric Hosmer of the Padres. She is the first female field coach in MLB history.

The new CBA was supposed to fix tanking, but the changes are akin to guardrails and not much more.

Imagine Aaron Judge leaving the Yankees and playing for the Dodgers. Egads, they might win 120 games.

The Red Sox may have a reckoning of their own soon. Xander Bogaerts and Nathan Eovaldi will be free agents after this season and Rafael Devers enters his option year in 2023.

Five games into a $182 million, seven-year contract, Kris Bryant is batting .350 (7 of 20) with hits in every game and finally plated his first two runs for the Rockies last night.

The White Sox placed Lucas Giolito (abdominal strain) and AJ Pollock (hamstring) on the injured list before yesterday’s home opener.

Baseball Digest has honored longtime Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tuesday’s Three Stars

  1. José Ramírez – The Guardians’ all-star third sacker was 3-for-6 with six RBI, four coming on a 9th inning grand slam. Ramirez already has 11 RBI on the season and finished a double shy of hitting for the cycle.
  2. Suzuki – He earned his spot here and deserves the accolade.
  3. Marcell Ozuna – The Braves’ DH led a strong offensive charge with two home runs and a double as Atlanta clobbered the Nationals 16-4.

Extra Innings

Ian Happ is hitting .700, it’s not even August yet, and he’s already eyeing up the cool kids on the bus.

Apropos of Nothing

That Honeydrippers song that started today’s post has one of the tightest arrangements in modern rock history. Robert Plant loved the old Atlantic Records catalog and claims the EP that contained the Roy Brown standard is still his favorite recording, including his output with Led Zeppelin. He and Ahmet Ertegun, who headed the label, were working on a Volume Two that would have contained two classics by Ray Charles, I’ve Gotta Woman, and The Mess Around when Ertegun passed in 2006. The project was scrapped shortly after.

I chose today’s song because “Sioux City Sue” sounds pretty close to Seiya Suzuki.

Did You Know?

Smiley Smile is probably the least-acclaimed album the Beach Boys ever released but contains arguably their best single ever, and I’ll dedicate it to Smyly this morning.

They Said It

  • “Everything works out for a reason, everyone has a different path,” Smyly said. “I’ve been very lucky in my career, and I feel very fortunate to be back here and pitching for the Cubs. It felt good to go out there, pitch well, and help the team win a game.” – Smyly
  • “I’m just trying to stay aggressive and trying to make the pitcher throw more pitches. Obviously, I’m getting lucky, and I just want to continue to contribute like this.” – Suzuki
  • “He’s good. It’s not rocket science. He can flat-out swing the bat.” – Green
  • “Baseball’s a tough sport, but I think [Suzuki] is going to be someone who you know is going to give you a quality at-bat each and every time, someone who is going to bring a little fear into the opposing pitching staff. Someone who’s going to be the main dude in that top-three, top-four part of the lineup for years to come. You see how many barrels he hits and his approach to the game. I feel like as the season progresses, he’s only going to get even more comfortable with the league over here. I expect him to have a big year.” – Stroman

Wednesday Walk-Up Song

Psycho Killer by Talking Heads (Live 1978) – Is there a better bassline in rock history than this magic by Tina Weymouth? This is a very raw and unpolished version lifted from The Old Grey Whistle Test, which makes its message all the more sinister.

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