The Rundown: Cubs Streaking, Bryant Provides Big Blow, Big Stick Nick Big Again

Yu Darvish had a little trouble keeping the ball in the ballpark last night, but the Cubs offense did their part and continually found ways to bounce back in last night’s 12-11 slugfest that was yet another showcase game for Nicholas Castellanos. Big Nick was 4-for-5 with a homer in the 1st inning for a club-record third straight game and continues to power Chicago’s offense. But last night’s big blow came from Kris Bryant, which proved to be the game-winner.

Darvish had one of the more improbable lines of any starter ever: 5.1 IP, 8 K, 0 BB 7 ER, with all runs scoring on four Giants’ home runs. It was his fifth straight start with at least eight strikeouts and zero walks, an MLB record, though it will probably be the least memorable of that streak.

I was sound asleep by the time Bryant captivated the Wrigley Field crowd with his 8th-inning heroics and I missed another clean inning from Dirty Craig Kimbrel, who I hear was downright filthy. If that guy gets on a roll to close out this season, the Cubs will be a force come October.

As much as Theo Epstein has been ripped for his trades and free agent signings, and I’ll get to Brandon Morrow in just a bit, his two biggest acquisitions of this season, Castellanos and Kimbrel, may be his best work ever.

I know Aroldis Chapman helped get the Cubs their first championship in over a century, but his acquisition cost Gleyber Torres, who will likely be a perennial All-Star, if not the best shortstop in the American League. That’s significant. Castellanos and Kimbrel were acquired for the sum total of Alex Lange, Paul Richan, and the unused portion of Ben Zobrist’s 2019 salary. That type of highway robbery hasn’t been seen since the Lufthansa Heist of 1978. Admit it, you had already forgotten who the Cubs shipped to Detroit for Nicky Two Bags.

With a four-game winning streak, the Cubs will go for the sweep today before welcoming the bullpen-challenged Nationals to the Friendly Confines. Last night’s offensive barrage may be a preview of the upcoming weekend series. Washington is 4-2 over their last six games, averaging nearly 10 runs per game in that span, including a 4-1 loss to the Pirates and a 2-1 win over the Brewers. In the other four games the Nats scored 14, 16, 13, and 11 runs, winning three of those four.

Cubs News & Notes

  • The Cubs moved back into first place in the NL Central, a half game ahead of the Cardinals, who lost 5-3 to the Brewers.
  • Daniel Descalso finally admitted that playing with an injured ankle probably derailed his season.
  • Morrow has probably pitched his last game for the Cubs. The closer will need a surgical procedure on his injured elbow and won’t pitch again this season. The Cubs hold a $12 million option on Morrow for 2020, but will likely buy that out for $3 million. Morrow will leave Chicago having pitched just 30.2 innings in two seasons.
  • Epstein expressed some regret about how the Cubs used Morrow after signing him to a two-year, $21 million contract with a team option for 2020 despite a history of numerous injuries.
  • There were more than a few whispers that Anthony Rizzo’s back injuries had sapped him of his power, possibly permanently. That doesn’t seem to be the case.
  • The Cubs bullpen will could be a strength down the stretch.
  • The Cubs will face Jeff Samardzija today. The veteran hurler has been a pleasant surprise lately, pitching to a 2.09 ERA over his last nine starts. He’s 0-2 with a 6.35 ERA against the Cubs in his career. Chicago will counter with Kyle Hendricks in today’s 1:20 PM matinee. Hendricks is 4-2 with a 1.98 ERA at home this season.

How About That!

The Orioles pitching staff tied the MLB record for most home runs allowed in one season. Yes, they still have 35 more games to play this year.

The Mets keep finding ways to win. They walked it off last night and are 26-10 in the second half. A showdown with the Cubs at Shea Stadium starts on Tuesday.

A squirrel stole the show at Tuesday’s Twins-White Sox game, upstaging a career performance by Chicago’s starting pitcher.

MLB sent out a memo to all of its teams about over-the-counter sexual-enhancement pills, claiming they may contain banned substances that could get players who take the supplements suspended.

Wednesday’s Three Stars

  1. Lucas Giolito – The White Sox starter is really coming into his own and last night he pitched a complete game shutout over the Twins. Giolito had 12 strikeouts and didn’t issue a walk.
  2. Nick Castellanos – Big Nick Energy continues to spark Chicago’s offense and now has eight home runs in 19 games with the Cubs.
  3. Justin Verlander – Though he took a 2-1 loss to his former team, the veteran pitched a complete game with 11 strikeouts. Verlander continues to lead the Astros’ staff and is 15-5 with a 2.77 ERA and 239 strikeouts on the season.

Extra Innings

Kato Kaelin, former reality TV star and one-time house guest of O.J. Simpson, is struggling just a bit to stay relevant. He’s a Brewers fan who lives and dies with each pitch, and apparently has had enough of his beloved team this season. Kaelin is a Milwaukee native, though we try to keep that to ourselves up here.

They Said It

  • “This is one of those games where you don’t feel like you’re going to win because you’re taking a lead and giving it back. But we came out on top, and definitely some good momentum here. We were high-fiving there and Riz told me, ‘This is a season-defining win.’ I can’t disagree with him.” – Kris Bryant
  • “Maybe we should have had even more conservative guidelines with [Morrow]. Maybe there was nothing we could do. It’s impossible to say. Obviously, he has a significant injury history, which makes it a calculated risk when you sign someone like that.” – Theo Epstein

Thursday Walk Up Song

The Streak by Ray Stevens. Chicago goes for five in a row today, which would be their second-longest winning streak of the season. The Cubs won seven in a row April 27 – May 5.

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