The Rundown: Bote Clutch Again, Cubs Split Twin Bill Despite Lack of Offense, Tatis Jr. Criticized for 7th Inning Slam
I’m not a fan of doubleheaders under normal circumstances, let alone seven-inning sets when the Cubs are having trouble putting their bats on baseballs. If it wasn’t for a huge David Bote three-run tater in the nightcap, Cubs fans would be on heavier BP meds today thanks to what would have been a four-game losing streak, all against their two biggest division rivals.
SANTA MARIA! @BinnysBev pic.twitter.com/JrJy5tPue7
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 18, 2020
By the time Bote won last night’s game I was fast asleep, having drifted off to a loop of Seinfeld reruns that served as comfort television when I decided I couldn’t stand to see another swing and miss by Cubs hitters. The North Siders may be COVID-free, but you can’t tell me that some contagion is not present in those bats. By the time game one has ended, the Cubs were on a streak that included 60 punchouts in 43 innings. Cardinals pitchers added 10 more in the nightcap, most of the swinging variety.
With that much swing and miss in their game, opposing managers must have found something to exploit, and I’ve seen a few things that need obvious improvement:
- Loss of patience by Kris Bryant, Javier Báez, and Willson Contreras;
- Lack of clear approach at the plate by the same three;
- Inability to relax in the batter’s box; and
Contreras had a big hit last night so maybe that’s a precursor of better things to come. But Bryant, who is 8-for-37 (.216) this month with two RBI, and Báez, who has just two hits in his last 27 at-bats with 11 strikeouts, look pathetic right now. If your best players aren’t hitting, the rest of the team really has to pick them up. It seems only Jason Kipnis and Ian Happ are up to the task right now, though Bote was clutch in his big pinch-hit situation last night.
The Cubs will look to get their bats untracked in tonight’s game against St. Louis righty Daniel Ponce de Leon. Chicago may not need to completely break out with Yu Darvish taking the bump, but it would be nice to see the team that averaged over six runs per game before the current homestand get back some of that firepower.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs offense leads MLB with a 27.9% strikeout rate and they are 22nd in team batting average at .229 after yesterday’s games.
- The Cubs were the road team and batted first in the second game of yesterday’s doubleheader. The rule that the home team bats in the bottom of the inning wasn’t implemented until 1950. Prior to that time, there were thousands of games in which the home team batted first. That included the Cubs in more than 500 games.
- Tyson Miller made his major league debut last night, pitching two innings and allowing two earned runs.
- Miller took to Twitter to thank the Cubs and their fans for the opportunity.
- Bote has become one of the team’s better clutch performers.
- Injured starter José Quintana is continuing his rehab but will not be an option in either of tomorrow’s games.
- Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler climbed up into the bleachers to retrieve the home run hit by Max Schrock, the first of his career.
- Darvish was 0-4 with a 4.07 ERA in fours starts against the Cardinals last season.
Odds & Sods
Whenever Darvish pitches, I always feel we owe ESPN’s David Kaplan a debt of gratitude for helping the ace sort of break out of his shell. When Darvish saw the support he received from Cubs fans he started oozing confidence and has been nearly unstoppable since.
Also your number is wrong I guess.
Fastballs .250AVG .381OBP .489SLG .870OPS.
Off speed .137AVG .201OBP .261SLG .462OPS.
You can't win agains Cubs database. https://t.co/pW5d38a680
— ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish) (@faridyu) August 22, 2019
Apropos of Nothing/Sliding Into Home
My nutritionist knows how much I dig on music so to keep me motivated she takes the time to send texts to me when she hears a great song. That led to a 20-minute text discussion on the video for “Runnin’ Down a Dream” by Tom Petty. What a great song, and Full Moon Fever is such an underrated album.
How About That!
The White Sox hit six home runs last night and have resurrected the ghosts of 1977’s South Side Hitmen.
Hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen and the husband-wife team of Álex Rodríguez and Jennifer Lopez are in a bit of a bidding war to purchase the Mets.
Current Mets’ owner Fred Wilpon is said to detest Cohen, which might be good news for Ro-Lo.
Nationals’ No. 2 prospect Luis García became the first MLB player born in the 2000s to hit a homer in the major leagues.
Yankees slugger Luke Voit hit two big flies last night and then claimed New York has “the deepest team in baseball.”
Brothers Corey and Kyle Seager each hit home runs in their first professional game playing against each other. The Dodgers beat the Mariners 11-9.
Monday’s Three Stars
- Fernando Tatís Jr. – The Padres superstar shortstop had quite a day, going 2-for-5 with two homers and seven RBI, including a 7th-inning grand slam on a 3-0 pitch, one that left him in some hot water with his own manager. Tatís Jr. leads the majors with 11 home runs this season.
- Nelson Cruz – The “Boomstick” is a favorite of mine and I love when he gets a mention in this section. Last night Cruz hit two dingers for the Twins in their 4-1 victory over the Royals. The 40-year-old DH now owns a .354 batting average with eight homers and 23 RBI.
- Tommy La Stella – 3AM hit a walk-off grand slam for the Angels last night, giving him the slight edge over Bote as last night’s show horse.
Is there a point and time when all the supposed “old school” managers will have left the game? If Tatis Jr. is benched tonight I will have lost all faith in baseball. Sadly, the young shortstop took the dressing down Jayce Tingler gave him to heart.
“I know a lot of unwritten rules, ” Tatís Jr. said. “I was kind of lost on this. … Those experiences, you have to learn. Probably next time, I’ll take a pitch.”
Baseball's "unwritten rules" caught up to Fernando Tatis Jr. on his first career grand slam, drawing the ire of his own manager. https://t.co/XQAmKat57X
— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) August 18, 2020
They Said It
- “You miss that roar. You miss the silence even sometimes, like a gasp and then the roar.” – David Bote
- “You’re going to hit some adversity. We’ve had to shuffle some things around, but I haven’t seen our guys waver one bit with their concentration, with their work ethic, with their commitment to having good at-bats, making good pitches. All the work’s been there.” – David Ross
- “He’s young, a free spirit and focused and all those things. That’s the last thing that we’ll ever take away. It’s a learning opportunity and that’s it. He’ll grow from it.” – Jayce Tingler
- “There’s a lot of unwritten rules that are constantly being challenged in today’s gameI didn’t like it personally. You’re up by 7 in the 8th inning, it’s typically not a good time 3-0. It’s kind of the way we were all raised in the game. But … the norms are being challenged.” – Rangers manager Chris Woodward
Tuesday Walk Up Song
Real World by Matchbox Twenty – I kind of feel bad for Tatís. Sports are supposed to be fun, and whatever happened to being a good sport when you lose?