The Rundown: Cubs Sweep Brewers, Oppo Power, Pitching Dominance

Good morning! This will be a light version of The Rundown, I missed all of last week with the flu and I have to get to work early today to catch up. That’s the rub here, people I work with read Cubs Insider, so if I call off sick, I can’t write an article. But if you happen to catch the strain of flu that is going around these parts I feel badly for you. It is not a pleasant experience and I still have no voice after six days of suffering.

The Cubs rotation isn’t suffering. They certainly manhandled one of MLB’s best offenses in sweeping the Brewers across four games. What a dominant performance. “I truly believe our starting staff will carry us,” Joe Maddon said earlier this season while the Cubs straddled .500 baseball. “I’m not just saying that. We’ve done OK without getting their best yet.”

Jose Quintana (7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, Win) turned in his best outing of the season by far on Saturday after a rocky start, and the rotation as a whole is once again starting to look like a strength.

The Cubs could end April with a share of first place if they beat the Rockies tonight.

Cubs News & Notes

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Cubs have 65 opposite-field hits, good for fourth in the NL. They ranked 19th in baseball in that category last season.

The Cubs have played the fewest games in the NL (25) due to a number of weather postponements. When you look at the team’s counting statistics on offense, especially those of Javy Baez, it suddenly seems even more remarkable.

The Brewers had won eight in a row before the Cubs bottled them up, holding Milwaukee to two runs and 14 hits in the sweep. Chicago’s starting pitchers — Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish, Jose Quintana, and Tyler Chatwood — allowed an unearned run and 11 hits in 27 innings in the series.

The two runs for Milwaukee marked the fewest allowed by Chicago in a four-game set since it also allowed two against Pittsburgh from June 2-4, 1919. The Cubs won four in a row with three or fewer runs in each game for the first time since at least 1908, according to the team.

How About That!

Gerrit Cole is a beast. A Cubs-Astros World Series might be fun to watch, yes?

The Yankees are just as hot as the Cubs. New York has gone 12-2 with a plus-49 run differential since a forgettable 6-7 start to the season, and they’ve racked up eight wins in a row heading into the week after sweeps of the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Angels. The Bombers square up against the Astros next.

Mitch Haniger (.309/.384/.701, 10 HR, 27 RBI) of the Mariners has quietly been an early AL MVP candidate, and the team’s offense as a whole is averaging a solid 4.7 runs per game.

The Diamondbacks have quickly stormed out to a five-game lead in the NL West standings, thanks to a plus-39 run differential that is tops in the NL and fourth in the majors—trailing the Astros (+66), Red Sox (+59) and Yankees (+47). Arizona is the first National League team in 111 seasons to win their first nine series.

The Angels have played to a 3-9 record in their last 12 games, including a three-game sweep against the Yankees over the weekend.

Sunday’s Three Stars

  1. Nick Kingham – The Pirates rookie pitcher had one of the best debuts in major league history, retiring the first 20 Cardinals batters he faced in a nine-strikeout, one-hit performance over seven full innings.
  2. Ozzie Albies – The Braves’ young second baseman was 3-for-5 with a home run, a stolen base, and three RBI as the Braves beat the Phillies 10-1.
  3. Adrian Gonzalez – The Mets 35-year-old first baseman had 5 RBI, including a three-run home run, in the team’s 14-2 thrashing of the Padres.

They Said It

  • “There’s a strikeout in [Tyler Chatwood]. There’s a ground ball in him. Those are two great qualities for a pitcher. He’s going to keep getting better.” – Joe Maddon
  • “Whatever word you want to say probably fits [regarding Gerrit Cole]. Whether it’s elite or dominant or exceptional or spectacular. It sounds historic with the strikeouts he had in our uniform.” – A.J. Hinch
  • “That’s how you plan it up — not to let anybody on. It’s incredible how it happened. Just kind of starting from the get-go, it went well. … It’s corny, but it took everybody. I’m really fortunate and really happy about it.” – Nick Kingham

Monday Walk Up Song

Feel Good, Inc. by Gorillaz. Nice to be upright again.

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