The Rundown: Of Near-Beers & Gambling, Crosstown Classic Comes to Friendly Confines, Báez, Contreras & La Stella Lead All-Star Voting
The Cubs had a day off yesterday so I actually decided to quarantine myself from all things baseball. I get frustrated at times, especially when the Cubs play inconsistently, and I just needed to walk away. I’m sure you’ve felt the same way. The Cubs need to do something about improving the way they play on the road.
But they start a homestand today when the White Sox come to Wrigley Field. The Crosstown Classic will bring some extra emotion during the two-game set because the South Siders have a much improved baseball product. As pops would say, “They’re on the come,” and indeed they are. They’re fun to watch and they carry a bit of swagger for a .500 team. In other words, the White Sox aren’t afraid of anybody and they play like they’ve got nothing to lose. That makes for a dangerous opponent.
Oh yeah…the ChiSox are bringing a red hot rookie into Wrigley Field tonight, too.
YANKEE KILLER CONFIRMED.
Eloy Jimenez now has two multi-home run games against New York as a rookie.pic.twitter.com/4zHOoOIlaz
— Sporting News MLB (@sn_mlb) June 15, 2019
Eloy Jiménez is hitting .345 over his last eight games with five home runs, 11 RBI and a 1.337 OPS. Be ready, Cubs fans, because a deluge of what-could-have-been articles are about to flood your inbox. The truth is, if the Cubs don’t win a championship with José Quintana, trading Jiménez and Dylan Cease may eclipse the Lou Brock to the Cardinals trade as the worst move the Cubs have ever made. At the time, Theo Epstein insisted the it was not about 2017 but all seasons through 2020. The clock is ticking.
Cubs News & Notes
- If you need a Crosstown Classic primer, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune has you covered. The event has lost a little bit of its luster in recent years, but that paradigm is shifting somewhat as both teams are going to be in competitive windows for the next 3-4 seasons at least.
- The Cubs are considering the addition of a sportsbook and betting kiosks at Wrigley Field. Somewhere, Pete Rose is preparing yet another plea for reinstatement. Maybe the Reds will hire him to market their sportsbook if/when they go that route.
- Ivan Nova will battle Cole Hamels in the series opener tonight. Hamels has been lights-out at Wrigley Field but Nova was always tough on the Cubs when he pitched for the Pirates. Say what you will, but the Cubs need a redemption game after a 2-5 road trip. The White Sox are oozing confidence right now, so tonight is no gimme.
- One wonders if the Cubs can legitimately compete with the Dodgers after going 1-3 in Los Angeles over the weekend. I admit, that line of thinking drove me to my one-day baseball sabbatical.
- In the most recent CBS Sports power rankings, the Cubs are fourth in the National League and eighth overall. The trail the Phillies, Braves and Dodgers. I don’t believe for a second that the Braves and Phillies are a better long-term bet than the Cubs, but Chicago is slumping and the rankings reflect that.
- Jed Hoyer has listed his Lincoln Park home for sale. Crossing my fingers that Theo Epstein doesn’t follow suit. The hot takes would suffocate me.
- Javier Báez and Willson Contreras maintain huge leads at their positions in all-star balloting.
- Kyle Hendricks doesn’t think his shoulder injury is serious and is not expecting a long absence.
- Ben Zobrist returning wouldn’t hurt the Cubs’ production at second base, which has been feeble with the exception the times when David Bote plays there. Addison Russell struck out seven times in the Dodgers series.
How About That!
The Angels reinstated Justin Upton from the injury list, and he wasted no time in announcing his presence to the Blue Jays. In fact, he destroyed the first pitch he saw. He also singled in the 1st inning.
Angels outfielder Mike Trout is very, very good at baseball. Call me Professor Obvious.
Picking up his 20th home run of 2019 already vs the Jays tonight, @Angels megastar Mike Trout (still 27 until August 7th) tied 5 others on this prestigious list of productive long ball seasons pic.twitter.com/sw9p3TmQlQ
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) June 18, 2019
Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka was positively dominant last night. Tanaka is the first Yankees pitcher to toss a shutout with two or fewer hits and 10+ Ks since Mike Mussina in 2002.
The first-place Braves pushed their record to 13-3 for the month with their win over the Mets on Monday. At 43-30, they’re also now on a 95-win pace.
Phillies OF Odúbel Herrera had his administrative leave extended until July. Herrera is facing domestic violence charges.
Yankees OF Clint Frazier was surprised to be demoted to the minors on Sunday. He should be. His OPS+ is 122 on the season. Daniel Descalso has an OPS+ of 50 and still has a major league roster spot.
The Cardinals defeated the Marlins last night, earning their sixth victory in their last eight games. Matt Carpenter had a bunt double to beat Miami’s infield shift. The Brewers lost in San Diego, 2-0, so the Central Division standings tightened up a bit. The Cubs should feel fortunate to be just a half-game out of first after their subpar road trip.
I hate posting Cardinals’ videos but maybe Joe Maddon should consider a similar strategy, especially when the Cubs play the Brewers.
Just your routine bunt double … wait, what? pic.twitter.com/8e4Aiq1cIL
— MLB (@MLB) June 18, 2019
Monday’s Three Stars
- Mike Trout – The perennial All-Star outfielder finished a triple shy of the cycle. He flied out in the 1st, doubled in the 2nd, singled in the 4th, homered in the 6th, and singled again in the 8th. Trout finished with three RBI, but he’s not perfect: He was caught stealing second base after his single.
- Masahiro Tanaka – A complete game, 10-strikeout performance really makes Tanaka a co-leader here. The Yankees hurler allowed just one walk and tossed 76 of 111 pitches for strikes, including 23 of 29 on the first pitch of an at bat.
- Tommy La Stella – 3 AM is the leading vote-getter at second base for the American League. I can neither confirm nor deny that the Cubs have filed a missing persons report on Descalso. Oof.
O’Doul’s will be handing out free samples of their alcohol-free beverage at Wrigley Field. It’s not exactly non-alcohol is it? I always thought near beers contained at least a smidgen of alcohol. So, if I am correct, those fans who are in alcohol or gambling addiction recovery programs will have to stay away from the Friendly Confines on game days in the very near future.
I can’t even…
Caption this. pic.twitter.com/Qh2BgIC3X7
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 18, 2019
Tuesday Walk Up Song
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down by The Band.
- I need the soothing voice of Levon Helm to help me move past my current baseball negativity.
- Time to flex some North Side muscles over our neighbors to the south.
- I’m a Civil War buff and this song is a favorite from 1969.