The Rundown: Cubs Sweep Rockies, Brown Bounces Back, Suzuki Stays Hot, Taillon Starts Rehab, A’s Heading to Sacramento

“Like soldiers on a winter’s night with a vow to defend…” – Bruce Springsteen, No Surrender

Big Ben Brown took a tremendous step forward in the Cubs’ 9-8 win over the Rockies Wednesday night. Brown took over for opener Luke Little, who threw a perfect first inning. The rookie then faced the minimum in three of the next four innings. He took on one more batter in the sixth, allowing a leadoff double to Jacob Stallings, who later scored. He finished the outing with five strikeouts and tossed 37 of his 52 pitches for strikes.

Justin Steele would have made the start had he not injured his hamstring in an Opening Day loss to the Rangers. Brown could get a start or two once the Cubs head west next week. Conditions were far from perfect last night, but the 6-foot-6 righty embraced the weather.

“I was thankful for some snow and some cold weather, honestly,” said Brown, who pitched in short sleeves. “Just made it easier to attack hitters.”

Seiya Suzuki was the hitting star and is continuing the hot streak that ended his 2023 season. The right fielder was 3-for-5 with a double, home run, and four RBI. Miguel Amaya plated three runners with a sacrifice fly and a 6th-inning single, and Michael Busch drove in his first run as a Cub, also by way of a sacrifice fly.

Yency Almonte and Héctor Neris coughed up an 8-3 lead in the 8th, but Suzuki scored Miles Mastrobuoni to give the lead back to the Cubs before Adbert Alzolay closed it out for his first save of the year. Mastrobuoni reached base on a dropped third strike.

The win was thrilling, but Brown’s effort was just as satisfying. His four-seam fastball and curveball combination kept Colorado in check and the two pitches featured a drastic velocity change that increased their effectiveness. Brown threw 18 curveballs, producing four called strikes and six whiffs. He threw first-pitch strikes to nine of the 15 batters he faced.

Brown could take the bump Tuesday night in San Diego for what would have been Steele’s third scheduled start. Jameson Taillon is scheduled for a rehab start with Tennessee on Sunday, so the tall rookie may finally get his first big league start unless Craig Counsell goes with another bullpen game.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

The Tigers are baseball’s lone remaining undefeated team and the Marlins are the first team to start 0-7 a year after making the playoffs. The Mets (0-4) are baseball’s only other winless team.

Central Intelligence

Climbing the Ladder

“Every chance that you get is a chance you seize.” – Coldplay, Speed of Sound

The Cubs lead all of baseball with a .380 OBP, and their .814 OPS is fifth among all teams. Chicago is averaging 6.7 runs per game through their first two series of the season.

Little became the first Cubs pitcher to finish a game and start the next one since Rick Reuschel on May 2, 1976, against the Giants, and May 4, 1976, versus the Dodgers. Warren Hacker was the last to do it against the same team (Phillies) May 1-2, 1955, according to team historian Ed Hartig.

The Cubs are off today and will then host Shohei Ohtani and the Dodgers for a three-game set starting Friday. Chicago was 3-4 against Los Angeles last season, including a 1-3 homestand in April. After this weekend, the North Siders won’t play the Dodgers or Rockies again until mid-September.

  • Games Played: 6
  • Record: 4-2 (.667), 3rd place in NL Central
  • Total Plate Appearances: 242
  • Total Strikeouts: 39
  • Strikeout Rate: 16.12%
  • Team Batting Average: .276
  • With Runners in Scoring Position: 15-for-56 (.268)
  • Runs Scored: 40
  • Runs Allowed: 30
  • Pythagorean Record: 4-2
  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 79.9%, 5.9% chance to win World Series 

How About That!

The A’s will play their home games in Sacramento’s Sutter Health Park for three seasons following the expiration of their lease with the Oakland Coliseum at the end of this year. The team has an option for a fourth year and will start playing in Las Vegas at the beginning of the 2028 season.

Youth baseball platform Perfect Game has added 21 former and current Major League Baseball players to its cap table as it diversifies from its core business of running baseball tournaments and showcase events for high school players.

The Dodgers and Braves are baseball’s best teams, but there are five others, including the Orioles and Phillies, who could take either down.

On the flip side, the Mets and Marlins top this season’s initial misery index. The White Sox aren’t far behind.

Atlanta’s record-setting offense could be even better this season.

Chris Paddack of the Twins made his first start in nearly two years yesterday. He got a no-decision against the Brewers, allowing two runs in four innings. I was at the game, and Rhys Hoskins is going to be a beast in that ballpark.

Jackson Chourio hit his first big league home run in the 7-3 loss to the Twins.

J.J. Hardy has upset a number of his neighbors by building a miniature baseball field in his backyard. If you build it, they will come.

Orioles outfield prospect Heston Kjerstad homered twice and drove in 10 runs for the Norfolk Tides in a 26-11 Triple-A win over the Charlotte Knights.

Wednesday’s Three Stars

  1. Yordan Álvarez – The Houston superstar was 4-for-5 with two home runs and four RBI as the Astros blanked the Guardians 8-0.
  2. Suzuki – He and Christopher Morel have been Chicago’s best hitters through six games.
  3. Taylor Ward – The Angels don’t have much firepower beyond Mike Trout, but Ward can be a clutch hitter when needed. The left fielder was 3-for-5 with a home run in last night’s 10-2 win over the Marlins.

Extra Innings

The Rockies struggled on defense all series.

They Said It

  • “Crazy game for sure. Tough conditions tonight for both sides. We found a way to come out with a win. Tells us it was a really good series with a sweep and a well-deserved off day for these guys.” – Counsell
  • “One blip in the road isn’t going to change my routine and my repertoire. That’s a big difference between where I was last year; there was so much tweaking and second-guessing myself. But a little more confident this year just to [say], ‘OK, had a rough one. Where can I improve?’” – Brown
  • “That first time you’re in the big leagues, it’s just different. Those [feelings] are gone. And then you just realize, I think every player understands, ‘There are better players here. This is a better league. I’ve got to be just a little bit better.’” – Counsell

Thursday Walk-Up Song

Mark Knopfler finally dropped the official full-length video, and though it’s not what I hoped for, it’s stunning nonetheless.

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