God must have been angry with the Cubs.
Perhaps He was just smiting them for scheduling a game on Easter Sunday or maybe it was punishment for having the audacity to allow themselves to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Whatever the reason for the divine displeasure, the Cubs were visited by a pair of plagues in the early innings of their game with the Mariners. First they were beset by swarms of bees that chased their relievers into the Mariners bullpen and had Jason Heyward doing the world’s worst impersonation of the mime Joe Maddon brought in to lead stretching earlier in the week.
Heyward had just taken over in center after Dexter Fowler left with an “ankle injury.” Personally, I think Fowler was just playing a prank on Heyward. Okay, I don’t really think that. But it was pretty hilarious to see the big outfielder flapping his hands about his face and running to the fence to get away from the flying hoard. It was a little less hilarious, however, when I realized he’d been stung more than 10 times.
You might not think one could draw anything of consequence from such a strange event, but I was very impressed by the presence of mind J-Hey displayed in the midst of this trial. I mean, not many people know of bees’ distaste for outfield wall padding, so him seeking refuge on the wall is exactly the kind of heads-up move that tells me the big contract will be worth it.
I was also really pleased with the grit and guile he showed in responding to adverse conditions that would have laid low a lesser man. In his very next at-bat in the bottom of the inning, Heyward swatted a few bees by swatting a James Paxton offering over the fence in right. That, my friends, is the kind of will to win you just can’t teach.
It did kind of suck for the fans who were out on the berm though, as the bees made things a little less fun. The Cubs’ other Jason H. giving up 9 runs on 8 hits and 3 walks in only 4 and 1/3 innings didn’t exactly heighten the enjoyment either. But before you go bashing the beleaguered starter, understand that things would have looked much different but for a fluke play in the 5-run Mariners 2nd.
A two-out blooper from Ketel Marte just eluded Addison Russell’s glove and plated a pair of seafaring Seattleites, paving the way for the second of Robinson Cano’s three home runs of the game. If that hit doesn’t fall, the paper version of Hammel’s outing probably isn’t quite so disastrous. It did fall though, so the box score looks really ugly.
If you’re dragging Hammel out to the ledge with you, there’s probably nothing I can do to talk you down at this point. And since I don’t have TI’s cell number any more, he’s not coming in for backup. Most of my readers know better than to let a single outing color their outlook too heavily though, so I think we’re good here. But if you are getting that itch to shout that [insert reliever’s name here] should take over a starting spot, just remember that the season isn’t won or lost in March.
Also, Hammel’s $10 million AAV might seem like a lot compared to what you pull down (Google Adsense revenue has me cashing monster checks every couple months or so), but it’s incredibly reasonable when compared to the going rate for back-end-of-the-rotation arms.
For me, the bigger takeaway is that we’re seeing more and more of the Cubs’ everyday lineup. Other than Matt Szczur, who ended up going 2-for-5 with a homer, Maddon opened up with all regulars. We’ve known for a while how good the Cubs can be(e), but actually seeing these guys step to the plate one after another instead of just writing their names in succession like a lovesick schoolgirl is pretty exciting.
These guys just don’t give opposing pitchers a break and they can beat you in so many ways. It’s kinda like the Astros teams of the 90’s, you know, the Killer B’s. And with that, I’ll see myself out.