“We’re gonna play some pool, skip some school, act real cool, stay out all night, it’s gonna feel alright.” – Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band, Rosalita
An off day couldn’t come at a better time.
The Mets beat the Cubs 4-3 last night, ending Chicago’s six-game series streak, and it was almost enough to drive me back to Pepsi. The Boys in Blue promised they wouldn’t pump the brakes after their most recent homestand, but now they have some work to do now that they’re in Toronto to take on the Blue Jays after a much-needed day off. The last time the Cubs had a break in the schedule was July 24.
The Reds also lost yesterday, so they’re still a fraction of a percentage point behind the second-place Cubs in the standings. Unfortunately, the Brewers beat the Rockies, so they’re now 2.5 games up in the NL Central. Chicago has won 16 of 22 games, but that tiny hole in the momentum balloon needs some quick patching. If you’re looking for a bright spot, it’s that Seiya Suzuki had three hits, including a triple and a home run. The Cubs need Suzuki to put his season-long doldrums behind him, and a 3-for-4 night is a great start.
Pete Alonso was the difference for the Mets in the three-game set. He hit another home run last night and finished the series with four taters and 10 RBI. He victimized Kyle Hendricks this time, who pitched well otherwise. Hayden Wesneski took the loss after failing to retire a batter in the 6th inning.
Still, the Cubs could have won the game had they capitalized when it counted. Suzuki led off the 9th with his home run, then Jeimer Candelario singled, followed by a walk to Mike Tauchman. David Ross chose to have pinch hitter Nick Madrigal bunt the runners to second and third. Christopher Morel, who homered on the first pitch of the game, struck out. Nico Hoerner walked and Ian Happ struck out to end it. Chicago finished the game 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base. There’s your ballgame.
Cubs News & Notes
- After last night’s game, Ross explained and defended his questionable decision to have Madrigal bunt in the 9th inning.
- The Cubs have temporarily moved starter Drew Smyly to the bullpen.
- Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy hopes “short bursts of aggression” will help Smyly snap out of a two-month slump.
- Marcus Stroman (right hip inflammation) felt great after his bullpen Tuesday, according to Ross. Stroman will likely throw a heavier bullpen Friday, and the team hopes Stroman can return from the injured list on August 16. Javier Assad will start in Stroman’s place on Friday night.
- Suzuki hopes a more relaxed approach will help him at the plate. The Cubs still believe in Suzuki and know there is a great hitter within him.
- The right fielder admitted he needs to step up if he hopes to remain in the starting lineup.
- Suzuki has only had seven multi-hit games since joining the Cubs last year but hopes for more games like last night now that he has refocused.
- Adbert Alzolay leads the majors in saves since taking over as Chicago’s full-time closer.
- Jameson Taillon turned his season around once he started working with a mental skills coach. He now carries a 2.17 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over his last six outings.
- Taillon also corrected some mechanical flaws. The Cubs have access to something called Kinetrax, which can be used to identify mechanical differences using stick-figure comparisons of pitchers’ deliveries.
- Brennen Davis is starting to work himself back into game action after undergoing core surgery in June. Don’t give up on Davis, he was just starting to snap out of an early-season slump when he got hurt.
- Ryan Jensen was claimed off of waivers by the Mariners.
- The Cubs have scheduled their 2024 fan convention for the weekend of January 12.
- Bruce Springsteen returned to Wrigley Field last night for the first time since 2012. He and the E-Street Band will play another show at The Friendly Confines on Saturday night.
Apropos of Nothing
I did not know until this morning that The Irish Rovers originated in Toronto.
Odds & Sods
Masataka Yoshida lost one in the lights.
— The Pesky Report (59-55) (@PeskyReport) August 9, 2023
- Milwaukee (62-54): Scouts love the Brewers’ 2023 draft class, specifically Cooper Pratt.
- Cincinnati (60-57): Joey Votto has a very particular set of travel rules, and hasn’t turned on a hotel TV in 15 years.
- Pittsburgh (51-63): The Pirates optioned right-hander Osvaldo Bido to Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday, leaving the team with a four-man rotation composed of Mitch Keller, Johan Oviedo, Quinn Priester, and Bailey Falter.
- St. Louis (40-65): Willson Contreras has been the Cardinals’ most consistent hitter since July 1.
Climbing the Ladder
“If I could find my way to shore, I’d never, never do this anymore.” – The Monkees, Goin’ Down
It could be a coincidence, but the Cubs’ worst stretch of the season came between May 6 and June 8 when they went 9-20. Nearly all of that was without either Hoerner or Cody Bellinger in the lineup, and some of it was without both. A mentally-ready Suzuki adds even more length to Chicago’s lineup and bench and gives Ross so many more options. Tauchman still needs to get regular at-bats, however, as do Morel and Candelario.
- Games Played: 115
- Record: 59-56 (.513)
- Total Plate Appearances: 4,430
- Total Strikeouts: 1,041
- Strikeout Rate: 23.38%
- Team Batting Average: .256
- Runs Scored: 582
- Runs Allowed: 516
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 72%, 4.8% to win the World Series
How About That!
Is it too early to make 2023-24 free-agent predictions? How about Candelario to the Brewers, Stroman to the Padres, and Bellinger to the Yankees? Or Matt Chapman to the Cubs and Shohei Ohtani to the Dodgers?
Ohtani is the first player in the history of the game to have 40+ homers and 10+ wins in the same season. By the way, I believe Ohtani will sign with the Cubs.
The AL Central has quickly become the worst division in baseball, with poor player development and no real division rivalries considered two of the main culprits.
In a jump not seen in MLB in a quarter-century, attendance is up 9% this season when compared to the same number of games in 2022, a total increase of more than 4 million fans and an average of 2,424 per game. It’s baseball’s biggest surge in popularity since 1998, discounting the Covid-19 seasons, of course.
MLB dropped its 2023 playoff and World Series schedule, with Game 7 (if necessary) to be played on Saturday, November 4. There’s nothing better than watching baseball with Christmas shopping commercials on the half-inning breaks. Let’s hope that Wrigley Field is hosting that game.
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Michael Lorenzen – The veteran right-hander hurled a no-hitter in his first home start for the Phillies. Weston Wilson homered for Philadelphia in his first big league at-bat after predicting he would do just that.
- Josh Bell – The first baseman was 2-for-4 with two homers, one apiece from each side of the plate, leading the Marlins to a 5-4 win over the Reds.
- Spencer Torkelson – The Tigers first baseman also enjoyed a two-homer day in Detroit’s 9-5 win over the Twins.
It’s nice to see this from slump-busting Seiya.
Have a day, Seiya! pic.twitter.com/TvqFpY16sh
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 10, 2023
Thursday Morning Six-Pack
- Music history experts say hip-hop’s impact on the $16 billion music industry is so extensive that it’s not easily quantifiable. Run-DMC popularized the genre as a legitimate marketing tool when they released My Adidas back in 1986. Since then, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, and Sean Combs are a few of the savvy hip-hop players who’ve leveraged their celebrity status to start companies, build brands, and amass fortunes. Dre and a partner sold Beats Electronics to Apple in 2014 for $3 billion, its largest acquisition to date.
- Extreme weather events in 2023 have already cost insurers tens of billions. This is the biggest billion-dollar natural disaster year since at least 1980 when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration started tracking such events.
- Apple is making a small but subtle change to iPhone call screens by moving the location of the big red button that ends calls in its next iOS update.
- A lucky Mega-Millions player was a single jackpot winner of $1.58 billion on Tuesday evening.
- Many corporate logos have interesting subliminal messages embedded into their designs that you may have not previously noticed. The Tour de France and the Hope for African Children Initiative logos blew my mind, but the Pittsburgh Zoo branding is my favorite.
- Robbie Robertson, one of the co-founders of The Band, passed away at the age of 80.
They Said It
- “You gotta trust your players. I’m not going to pinch-hit for [Morel]. He could hit one in the seats just like earlier in the game. Guy’s a really valuable player, and Nick [Madrigal] puts the ball on the ground a lot. If he hits into a double play, you might be asking me why I didn’t bunt him. It’s part of it, outcome bias. Got a really good contact hitter behind [Morel] if he does strike out in Nico [Hoerner], and they walked him. Never even came close. Comes down to bases loaded with Happ at the plate. You take your chances there every single day.” – Ross
- “[Smyly] wants to be a starter, he thinks of himself as a starter, but he’s willing to help the team. He wants to win just like everybody else and he gets it. We’re trying to take the best matchups to give ourselves a chance to win. Maximize every number we can to give us any kind of slight edge going into each series and this is just one of those things.” – Ross
Friday Walk-Up Song
Godspeed, Mr. Robertson.