The Rundown: Blame Joe, Hilarity in Machado Rumors, Cubs Hope to Right Ship vs. Giants
Joe Maddon made me angry the other day during the Cubs 1-0 loss to the Indians and I had severe writer’s block yesterday because of it.
Evan breaks it down impeccably here, and for the record I am concerned that Maddon is becoming the Mike Ditka of the Cubs. The Bears had the talent to win many championships back in the 1980’s and sure, injuries hurt them, but the team’s defense was the best ever. Ditka just go too cute when it came to directing the team. Maddon is on that precipice right now and I hope he changes course soon. Just let ’em play, please and thank you.
Just recapping: Adam Plutko, called up from the minors to make the start, carried a no-hit bid into the 7th inning and Michael Brantley drove in the lone run as the Cleveland Indians held on for a 1-0 win over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs are third in MLB in runs per game. They’re second, behind the New York Yankees, in on-base percentage, and fifth in slugging percentage. Only Houston and Milwaukee have a better team ERA than the Cubs. Their current Pythagorean record is 29-17. So why are they not dominating baseball games on a consistent basis?
Passive-aggressive baseball does not win championships. Maddon needs some self-reflection, especially after his comments regarding last weekend’s loss to Cincinnati in the first game of a doubleheader, a loss the manager referred to as that “awful game in Cincinnati.”
“Losing doesn’t bother me, at all, because it’s part of what we do, but it’s how you lose that bothers me,” he said. “Your focus has got to be pointed in the right direction all the time. When you’re not there, the bar that we’ve set and the method that we’ve accumulated over the last couple years, we can’t let that go backwards.”
Cubs News & Notes
Theo Epstein is getting a kick out of the Manny Machado rumors.
Other front offices finds the rumors equally amusing.
Kyle Schwarber is showing improved defense in left field.
Tell them who your left fielder is. pic.twitter.com/eC3uMlrIaF
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 24, 2018
The Cubs have scored 10 or more runs in more games than any other team in baseball, having done so nine times in 46 contests.
Monday’s game against the Pirates will be the 2,500th regular season meeting between the two clubs. They will be the first pair of teams to reach that mark in baseball history.
Jon Lester has allowed two or fewer runs in five straight starts. However, what lies underneath is worth a disclaimer of sorts. Lester’s 7.58 K/9 is his lowest mark since 2013 and his 3.47 BB/9 is his highest since 2011. He is getting fewer ground balls than ever (37.4 percent) to boot. Those numbers spell regression.
The Cubs open a weekend series against the Giants starting today.
How About That!
Albert Pujols picked up a pair of hits, giving him 3,015 in his career. One of those hits was a solo homer, giving him 621 overall. His next targets on the all-time list are Rafael Palmeiro for hits (3,020; 28th) and Ken Griffey, Jr. for taters (630; 6th).
Astros pitcher Charlie Morton held the Indians to two runs over six innings, which caused his ERA to go all the way up to 2.04. That, by the way, is the third-worst ERA in the Astros’ rotation behind Justin Verlander (1.08) and Gerrit Cole (1.86).
The Angels pulled Shohei Ohtani from his scheduled start against the Yankees for what they are calling “workload management.” Ohtani is 4-1 with a 3.35 ERA in seven starts. He had been scheduled to pitch against fellow Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, but manager Scioscia said Ohtani would be available to hit against Tanaka.
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Dylan Bundy – The Orioles SP struck out 14 batters in a complete-game 9-3 victory over the White Sox yesterday. In three starts since his disastrous May 8 outing against the Royals in which he gave up 7 runs without recording an out, Bundy has a 2.86 ERA with a 0.73 WHIP and 29 K’s.
- Blake Snell – The Rays lefty continued his dominance of the Red Sox with eight strikeouts over six scoreless innings as the Rays avoided a three-game sweep with a 6-3 win. Snell (6-3) has allowed two runs with 19 strikeouts in three starts against Boston this season.
- Brandon Nimmo – The Mets OF continued his breakout season by collecting four hits and reaching base in all five plate appearances as the Mets beat the Brewers 5-0.
Hot Takes & Syrup
- Indians SP Mike Clevinger doesn’t think the Astros are all that special. Who would have thought that a two-game sweep at Wrigley Field would give a barely .500 team that much confidence?
- Bullpenning 101: The Rays plan to start relief pitchers during the team’s entire series against the Orioles.
- C.C. Sabathia wasn’t happy with Mark Teixeria’s comments about Robinson Cano. Then again, the Yankees ace wasn’t surprised, either.
- The Diamondbacks’ trade of Mitch Haniger and Jean Segura for Ketel Marte and Taijuan Walker is looking pretty regrettable these days.
They Said It
- “The attitudes, the personalities [of our players] are just built for the long haul. We’ve got good guys all around to pick each other up. Whether we go on a 15-, 20-game run, we’re just going to enjoy the process that it takes to be good.” – Anthony Rizzo
- “You’re not going to go out there and win every game. As much as we expect to win every game, we’re not going to do that. The biggest thing that we can control is that when we go out there, I think we’re giving out best effort. With the talent in here, I think when we’re giving our best effort, things usually go our way.” – Kris Bryant
- “Of course, it’s frustrating. We’ve lost that (close) game several times this season – really close, low-scoring, unable to get the big hit when we need it.” – Joe Maddon
Friday Walk Up Song
Birdhouse In Your Soul by They Might Be Giants. A sweep this weekend would be nice.
Quick Note: I will be out of town on Monday so I will see you all back here on Tuesday. I hope you all have a pleasant Memorial Day weekend with friends and family.