The Rundown: Cubs Continue Whiffing Ways Despite Win, Darvish Strong Once Again, Maeda Just Misses No-No

Cubs batters struck out another 14 times last night, yet they still managed to beat the Cardinals 6-3. David Ross told Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic that strikeouts are just part of their game now ($) and I suppose that’s a truth we are all just going to have to accept, whether we like it or not. Though Chicago has the offensive firepower to overcome such failures most of the time, an inability to make contact will hurt them in the long run and will most certainly be exposed if they make the playoffs.

A list of the pitchers who sent Cubs hitters back to the bench shaking their heads yesterday doesn’t strike fear into most baseball fans: Daniel Ponce de Leon, Seth Elledge, Ryan Meisinger, Jesús Cruz, and Nabil Crismatt, and I fear what may happen if the Cubs meet Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler in this year’s NLCS. Still, yesterday’s 6-3 win over St. Louis restored the 4.5 game cushion between the two in the standings, though the Cardinals have one less loss because they’ve only played 11 games.

The good news is that Yu Darvish pitched a heckuva game and Kyle Schwarber continued to torment the Redbirds with the longball. Including the playoffs, last night’s two-run tater in the 4th inning was Schwarber’s 10th career home run against the Cardinals, all of which seem to come in big situations. Rowan Wick earned his fourth save of the season, and whether or not he has snatched the closer’s job from Craig Kimbrel on a permanent basis, he has become the shutdown reliever at the end of games the Cubs sorely need.

The two teams will meet for their second doubleheader of the series today, with the Cubs sending Alec Mills against Jack Flaherty in the opener. Flaherty hasn’t pitched since since July 24 due to the Cards’ postponements and Mills is coming off of his only subpar start of the season. Neither team has named a starter for the nightcap, in which the Cubs will again bat first.

Cubs News & Notes

Apropos of Nothing

Hearing Ross talk about the Cubs’ propensity to whiff reminds me of the climactic scene in A Few Good Men.

Ahead of the Curve

Without looking it up, can you tell me which team Zack Greinke is pitching for? That guy is the most traveled superstar since Reggie Jackson. My first three guesses were incorrect.

Odds & Sods

Bullpen dancing is back whether you like it or not. Repeat after me: Mind open…heart enlarged…soul receptive.

How About That!

Twins starter Kenta Maeda took a no-hitter into the ninth inning last night before the Brewers tied the game 3-3. Minnesota eked out the win in extras, and Maeda set a team record by striking out eight consecutive Milwaukee batters.

Padres third baseman Manny Machado made one of the all-time great catches in baseball history last night… on the right field warning track.

Indians manager Terry Francona will be sidelined at least for the rest of the week after having gastrointestinal surgery.

Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic has provided some juicy baseball tidbits ($), including Christian Yelich receiving some hitting tips from Pete Rose. “Hello Christian? This is baseball’s hit king…”

Dodgers infielder Justin Turner will take a 12-game hit streak into tonight’s game against the Mariners.

The drama surrounding Fernando Tatis Jr. is actually a welcome respite from COVID-19 and other issues facing MLB this season.

Detroit rookie Casey Mize, the team’s number one prospect, will make his debut today when the Tigers play the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Orioles outfielder Anthony Santander is off to a hot start and is emerging as one of baseball’s new stars. His nine home runs are second in the American League to New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, and with 25 RBI he leads the AL. Santander also leads all of baseball with 19 extra base hits. Not bad for a guy who was a Rule 5 pick from the Indians in 2016.

Tuesday’s Three Stars

  1. Nick Ahmed – The Arizona shortstop was 3-for-4 with a home run and five RBI as the Diamondbacks doused the red-hot Athletics 10-1.
  2. Carlos Santana – The Indians first baseman also had a 5-RBI night with a home run as Cleveland beat the woeful Pirates 6-3.
  3. Tim Anderson – The White Sox shortstop hit his second consecutive lead-off homer on a 4-for-5 night, driving in three. Anderson now has 5 taters on the season and just 7 RBI, though he’s batting .379 and has scored 19 times.

Extra innings

We love Yu.

On Deck

According to baseball’s common core math for this season, where each win is worth a theoretical equivalent of 2.7 games in the standings, a victory against a division opponent is the same as sweeping the series were it a regular season. The Cubs could really do some damage if they can sweep the Cardinals today.

Sliding Into Home

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but my confidence continues to grow that MLB will finish the season, and I hope that by the playoffs, if not sooner, fans will be returning to ballparks on a limited basis. In fact, while I was away last week I read that the Cubs have at least publicly discussed a plan to allow 8,000 fans into Wrigley Field ($), though I’ve seen no follow-up stories.

As for me, I am convinced I had C-19 during the weekend of Cubs Convention, when I was so sick I probably should have canceled and stayed home. Last night I had a fever and most flu symptoms, but today they are gone. That marks the third time since March I’ve had a one-day “flu.” I wonder if having COVID-19 antibodies, which I have tested positive for, will make us better able to fight off seasonal flu strains? Silver linings, I suppose.

They Said It

  • “Players rarely change too significantly unless there’s an overhaul in their swing or the approach. The things that I pay attention to are the plan and the execution of a plan and how the at-bat goes and the thought process for each guy. We’ve been very consistent in having a plan and trying to stick to that. Strikeouts are just a part of our game now.” – David Ross
  • “I’m a slow guy when I was in Japan. After I came here, the guys wanted me to throw [as] quick as possible, and that didn’t work for me. When I focus on that, I can’t focus on my pitch.” – Yu Darvish

Wednesday Walk Up Song

I Wish I Had a Girl by Henry Lee Summer – This video hasn’t aged well, but Summer is the only guy who strikes out more than the Cubs. Summer is also a John Mellencamp try-hard, and since both are from Indiana and from the same era of music, that seems justified in a strange way.

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