“This must be just like livin’ in paradise, and I don’t want to go home.” – David Lee Roth, Just Like Paradise
If the season ended today, the Cubs would have earned the final Wild Card berth. Chicago is off to Gotham to play the Mets, and they have to be mindful of keeping the pedal to the metal. Nobody wants the New York Metropolitans to derail what is now 13 wins in 16 games by Chicago’s North Side Baseballers.
The Cubs took two of three from the Braves and have now won six straight series. Chicago passed the Reds, who have lost six straight games, by percentage points for second place in the NL Central. In 23 games since the All-Star break, the surging Cubs have scored an MLB-best 164 runs and they’re 16-7 (.696) in those contests. The only team hotter in that span is Atlanta, so it was nice to see Chicago win the set.
All-Star Justin Steele scuffled at times through 5.1 innings but won his fourth straight start on a misty day at Wrigley Field. Mike Tauchman had two hits, scored two runs, and threw out Ronald Acuña Jr. at the plate from right field in the 5th to limit a Braves rally.
The North Siders can’t let up now because they’re about to start one of the easier portions of their schedule. Their next five series are against the Mets (50-61), Blue Jays (63-50), White Sox (40-68), Royals (36-77), Tigers (49-62), Pirates, and Brewers. Chicago closes out the month with a four-game set against the Pirates in Pittsburgh before returning home to face the Brewers for three. This stretch gives them the best chance to overtake Milwaukee for the division lead.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs recalled RHP Caleb Kilian before yesterday’s game and optioned lefty reliever Anthony Kay to Triple-A Iowa.
- Timely hitting and an increase in stolen bases were the keys to Chicago’s offense for the entire homestand.
- The Cubs sent a loud statement to their division rivals by taking two of three from the Braves.
- The bullpen and some clutch hitting carried Chicago to victory on Sunday.
- A playoff-like atmosphere has enveloped Wrigley Field since the trade deadline.
- One of the team’s best assets is its resilience.
- ESPN lists Cody Bellinger among the potential free agents expected to earn between $80-150 million ($) this winter. Marcus Stroman has a shot at earning $10 million, and if that’s the case, he probably will not opt out.
- Seiya Suzuki will be spending a little more time on the bench until he can figure things out. Make no mistake, the Cubs need Suzuki in their lineup and producing if they intend to make a dent in the postseason.
- Swanson has no regrets about leaving Atlanta to play for the Cubs.
- Steele is considered a top-5 Cy Young Award candidate in the National League, but he’ll need better outings than yesterday’s to close the gap.
- Pete Crow-Armstrong hit his first Triple-A home run on Friday night.
- Matt Snyder of CBS Sports predicts the Cubs will surpass the Brewers and take the NL Central this year.
- The Cubs moved up to No. 7 in the latest power rankings by FOX Sports, but most services still have Chicago outside the top 10.
Odds & Sods
Anytime I can take a shot at Ángel Hernández…
The Yankees game was delayed as Ángel Hernández inexplicably broke out his new TikTok dance out of nowhere. He was escorted off the field. pic.twitter.com/KEhdl99e7t
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 6, 2023
- Milwaukee (60-53): It appears the Brewers have brought cheeseheads and the Gatorade bath to baseball. Perhaps Wisconsinites know how bad the Packers are going to be this year.
- Cincinnati (59-55): The Reds have lost six straight and were swept by the Nationals. I’m telling you, David Bell lost his team by making Ben Lively a sacrificial lamb against the Cubs last week.
- Pittsburgh (50-61): The Pirates claimed righty reliever Thomas Hatch on waivers from the Blue Jays. Hatch was a third-round pick by the Cubs in 2016.
- St. Louis (49-64): Adam Wainwright was shelled for seven runs in his last outing and told reporters he’s “tired of giving interviews with the same sad face.”
Climbing the Ladder
“I just bought me this new pair of big shoes and I’m only going if I can walk there with you.” – Widespread Panic, Walkin’ for Your Love
Dansby Swanson is swinging a hot bat, but his plate appearance against Charlie Morton in the bottom of the 3rd inning was one of his best. The bags were loaded, Morton refused to throw anything but breaking stuff to Swanson, and the shortstop coaxed an RBI walk. Swanson was an extra-base machine on the 5-2 homestand, finishing with five home runs, two doubles, and 11 RBI.
Nobody is hotter than Jeimer Candelario. He’s 12-for-23 (.522) with eight runs scored, a home run, three RBI, and a stolen base since joining the Cubs. His OPS+ since the trade deadline is 309. Cody Bellinger also had a good series, and now has three consecutive multi-hit games.
Things weren’t so fortunate for Patrick Wisdom. He entered the game as a pinch-runner but was promptly caught stealing. Maybe he was hoping to catch the Braves napping.
- Games Played: 112
- Record: 568-54 (.518)
- Total Plate Appearances: 4,318
- Total Strikeouts: 1,008
- Strikeout Rate: 23.34%
- Team Batting Average: .257
- Runs Scored: 574
- Runs Allowed: 499
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 77.6%, 4.4% to win the World Series
How About That!
The league has yet to decide how either player will be disciplined.
Sunday’s Three Stars
- Jake Meyers – The Houston outfielder hit a pair of three-run homers to lead the Astros to a 9-7 win over the Yankees.
- Davis Schneider – The 24-year-old rookie was 4-for-5 with a home run and four RBI in the Blue Jays’ 13-1 rout of the Red Sox.
- Yandy Diaz – The Rays’ DH was 3-for-5 with three runs scored, a home run, and two RBI in Tampa Bay’s 10-6 win over the Tigers.
Tauchman will go down as the best under-the-radar minor league signing ever.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 6, 2023
Monday Morning Six-Pack
- Bears QB1 Justin Fields claimed earlier this summer that he’ll pass for 4,000+ yards, but is that a realistic goal?
- The Monsters of the Midway returned to Soldier Field for Family Fest, the defense is lighting up the offense, and Steve McMichael is showing signs of improvement from a health setback on Friday. We’ve covered it all in the latest edition of Camp Notes at Bears Insider.
- Over the past few days, college football has undergone a conference shake-up that further obliterated traditional geographic rivalries, left the PAC-12 in life support, and further cemented the formation of a handful of national superconference, all in the pursuit of TV riches. The Big 10 will soon have 18 teams, but Notre Dame will remain stubbornly independent.
- The USNWT is heading home from the World Cup after a heartbreaking loss to Sweden, but still traveling with their heads held high.
- Barbie, the movie starring Margo Robbie and Ryan Gosling, hit $1 billion in ticket sales over the weekend. The fantasy picture is the fastest-growing film in the 100-year history of Warner Bros. films.
- The Mega Millions jackpot has risen to $1.55 billion ahead of tomorrow’s drawing. It’s the third-largest lottery prize in US history. You could purchase Shohei Ohtani this winter for a wonderful Cubs fan Christmas.
They Said It
- “I don’t think there are any excuses, but we just didn’t play [well]. We ran up against a hot team. Better play pretty good like we did the first day here, because [the Cubs are] swinging the bats, their bullpen’s been really good, they’re also a good club.” – Braves manager Brian Snitker
- “Belli’s good. If [you’re] just tuning in, Bellinger is back to being a really good player, believing in himself, and doing everything well. It does feel like he’s getting two, three hits a night, a big walk here and there. He’s been a game-changer for us in the middle of the lineup.” – David Ross
- “[Candelario] just deepens our lineup so much. He’s such a good hitter. He’s a good player. That’s why we went out and got him and identified him as a really important piece. The value he brings to deepen our lineup from both sides of the plate makes really tough matchups for the other manager.” – Ross
Monday Walk-Up Song
I can’t get enough of this song by Creedence Clearwater Revival.