The Rundown: Cubs in Offensive Funk, Darvish Needs MRI, Verlander and Kershaw Get Milestone Victories

This weekend sure was a downer for Cubs fans, wasn’t it?

Four games, four runs — all on solo home runs — over a split series in Pittsburgh…yawn. I hope you had a more exciting weekend than the Cubs’ offense did. If it weren’t for outstanding pitching performances by Jon Lester and Cole Hamels, the Cubs would have been swept by the Pirates. Yesterday’s lone run was courtesy of a Kyle Schwarber solo blast in the 2nd inning. To say this offense is in a funk is a huge understatement.

The news concerning Yu Darvish wasn’t any better.

Darvish, who turned 32 on Thursday, shook his arm as he left the field after striking out Romer Cuadrado with a 95-mph fastball for the last out of the 1st inning of his rehab start for South Bend. After six warmup pitches to start the 2nd he was pulled from the game. An MRI is scheduled for today.

A lack of offense in mid-August is a correctable problem for the Cubs. Losing an anchor in their rotation is not. Hamels has been a godsend and Lester seems to have righted the ship, but the Cubs are going to need a fifth starter soon. Jose Quintana may have turned a corner yesterday, but, he has been consistently inconsistent all season and his whiff rate is simply abysmal.

Tyler Chatwood isn’t the answer and can’t be counted on over the remaining five weeks. Maybe the Cubs can pursue Matt Harvey.

There is some good news, however. Despite just 76 games played by Kris Bryant and just eight starts by Darvish, and with Chatwood averaging 8.23 walks per nine innings, the Cubs still have the best record in the National League.  When trouble calls and your back’s to the wall there’s a lot you can learn…

Cubs News & Notes

The Cubs became the first team to score four runs in a four-games series — one in each game — all by solo home runs. Winning two of the four against the Pittsburgh Pirates was quite an accomplishment in that respect.

Joe Maddon said things are still status quo with Drew Smyly. The issue with the left-hander isn’t pain in that surgically-repaired elbow, he explained, but more of his body recovering at a slower rate than he would like. Recovery from Tommy John is never linear; little things are different for each guy and each process.

Expectations for this ballclub have grown exponentially over the past few years, and the Cubs seem to have a shorter leash than other Chicago sports franchises when it comes to losing key games.

As part of the Little League World Series, the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates will play in the Little League Classic game next August in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

How About That!

Justin Verlander became the 114th MLB pitcher to reach 200 wins in yesterday’s 9-4 win over Oakland. The victory gave the Astros a one-game lead over the Athletics in the AL West.

Clayton Kershaw earned the 150th victory of his career in the Dodgers’ 12-1 win over the Mariners. It seems unlikely that any starting pitchers will reach the illustrious 300 win total in this day and age, but if anyone is going to do it, Kershaw seemingly has the best shot.

The Rockies swept the Braves over the weekend, just as Atlanta was closing in on the Cubs for the best record in the National League.

The Phillies relished the opportunity to play in the Little League Classic yesterday against the Mets.

The White Sox announced on Sunday that fireballing righty Michael Kopech, arguably the top pitching prospect in the game, will be called up to make his major league debut Tuesday against the Twins.

Similarly, the Twins announced Sunday that Stephen Gonsalves will be recalled from Triple-A Rochester to make his major league debut Monday against the White Sox.

The Cardinals demoted struggling right-hander Luke Weaver to the bullpen in favor of Daniel Poncedeleon.

Sunday’s Three Stars

  1. Justin Turner – the Dodgers infielder was 4-for-5 with a home run and drove in five runs in the Dodgers’ crushing victory over the Mariners.
  2. Starlin Castro – The former Cubs middle infielder went 5-for-6 with an RBI and three runs scored in the Marlins’ 12-1 victory over the Nationals. Washington is on life support right now.
  3. Jhoulys Chacin – picked up his 13th victory, firing six shutout innings while scattering just four singles in the Brewers’ 2-1 victory over the Cardinals. The Brewers and Cardinals have been jockeying for second place in the NL Central.

Extra Innings

I feel like there is a font called “Set List” and all the rockstars know how to write using it.

They Said It

  • “For me, it was the opportunity to play on the biggest stage you could imagine as a 12-year-old. I was a little nervous because I had never played on TV or in front of that many people before. But to be able to see the cameras and do interviews, stuff you’ve never done before. As a 12-year-old, it was a lot of fun.” – Scott Kingery
  • “We scored four runs, one a game, and somehow came away with two wins. Instead of hanging our heads because our offense is brutal right now, we take the positives out of it.” – Anthony Rizzo
  • “We have to get our offense straightened out. I can’t make any excuses. There are none. We just have to get better.” – Joe Maddon
  • “I feel most most disappointed [out] of everyone in the world, I think.” – Yu Darvish
  • “It’s just not really responding the way I want it to. It’s completely normal. It’s just part of the of the rehab process – shortening the window. When I’m on the mound and well-rested, I feel great and I walk off it excited where I’m at and ready for the next step. I kinda wake up the next day and the soreness just lingers.” – Drew Smyly.

Monday Walk Up Song

Cruel to Be Kind by Nick Lowe. Somehow four runs led to two wins. I’ll take it, but is a winning streak too much to ask for?

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