“Toes in the grass with our hands up high, dream as big as the midnight sky, so untamed and we’re so alive tonight.” – Billy Currington, We Are Tonight
The Cubs couldn’t have packed more emotion into a four-hour window last night even had they scripted it. Here’s a succinct recap:
- Anthony Rizzo blasted a two-run homer in the 1st inning, scoring Kris Bryant, who reached first base thanks to a scorching line drive that Reds starter Wade Miley couldn’t grab. Once again, Bryzzo fails to disappoint.
- Kyle Hendricks was pretty bad last night. If the Cubs have had one guarantee this season, it’s been the Professor. He left the game after 4.1 innings trailing 5-3, his streak of 13 starts without a loss in real jeopardy.
- Out of nowhere, but not unexpectedly, Jed Hoyer pulled off a trade during the game with the Athletics that sent reliever Andrew Chafin to Oakland for two prospects.
- A booming home run by Willson Contreras tied the game in the 8th inning.
- Javier Báez, who was sitting due to a bruised heel, hammered a dramatic walk-off hit against arch-enemy Amir Garrett in the bottom of the 9th. It was one of the more confrontational at-bats you’ll ever see. Báez entered the batter’s box chirping very loudly at Garrett and then proceeded to drive the first pitch into deep centerfield with the bases loaded to score Patrick Wisdom, giving the North Siders a hard-earned 6-5 win.
It took approximately 16 seconds from the time Javier Baez made contact for him to touch first base 90 feet away. If my math here is correct …
"Sprint" speed from home to first: 3.84 mph https://t.co/tInTo94O24
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 27, 2021
In all likelihood, the Reds and the Cubs won’t make the postseason, but last night sure felt like a playoff game and, if anything, it proved that two mediocre baseball teams can stage an epic battle even if pride is all that’s on the line. It was a nice lesson, too, for those of us concerned that Wrigley Field won’t be worth the price of admission once we are sitting on the other side of Friday’s trade deadline.
Hoyer did well in the Chafin trade, getting Greg Deichmann, who was Oakland’s No. 9 prospect, and fireballing – though unproven – right-hander Daniel Palencia. With Joc Pederson gone, and now Chafin, Hoyer has managed to somewhat strengthen his farm system by giving up guys on the fringe of the roster. Both have mutual options next year, but it’s unlikely either would have been exercised by all parties.
— MLB's Arizona Fall League (@MLBazFallLeague) October 19, 2019
The Cubs’ president of baseball operations isn’t done yet. And if he’s trading any of the core players, he has yet to commit to that. Word came late last night that baseball insiders believe Hendricks and Báez will remain in Chicago past the deadline. That jibes with Hoyer’s plan to avoid a complete teardown and rebuild, and probably signifies that he and his star shortstop are close to working out an extension. More than likely, the Cubs will deal from their bullpen and possibly starter Zach Davies. It’s unlikely Craig Kimbrel will stay, and he may have pitched his last game as a Cub in earning the win last night.
In the meantime, it’s business as usual at Clark & Addison. If Báez starts tonight, I’d imagine the Reds have some type of retaliation planned. This week has started with quite a bang, and it doesn’t appear things are going to simmer down anytime soon.
Cubs News & Notes
- Ross got a little choked up when he was asked about the Chafin trade in the postgame presser. How good has the journeyman reliever been this season? He has allowed runs in only four of his 43 appearances.
- Despite all the heroics, the Chafin trade overshadowed the Cubs’ come-from-behind victory.
- An unlikely scenario where the Cubs take Eric Hosmer and his bloated contract off the hands of the Padres in exchange for a premium prospect or two could boost the Cubs farm system. Yikes.
- I can’t find any new Bryant rumors this morning. Exhale slowly and let’s keep our fingers crossed.
- With last night’s 1st inning home run, Rizzo and Bryant have now combined for 400 home runs in their careers as Cubs.
- Ross admitted the other night that all of the rumors are starting to become a distinction for his players.
- The Cubs are in the midst of a stretch against some of the league’s also-rans, but, now that Matt Duffy, Nico Hoerner, Jake Marisnick, and David Bote are back, the team has a completely different vibe and feels like a winner. Yes, as a fan I’m still slightly in denial.
- Deichmann has a strong arm and profiles as a power-hitting outfielder.
Odds & Sods
The river runs deep, and often quite muddy, between El Mago and Garrett.
Javy Baez records the walk-off hit against Amir Garrett a couple months after a benches clearing incident in Cincinnati
Baez immediately yells at Garrett after the hit, and Garrett continues to yell from his dugout as the Cubs leave the field pic.twitter.com/3BMyssSBJ2
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) July 27, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“What they don’t understand is it’s the miles that make a man, I wouldn’t trade that thing in for a rocket…” – Dierks Bentley, I Hold On
- Games Played: 101
- Total Plate Appearances: 3,705
- Total Strikeouts: 968
- Strikeout Rate: 26.1%
- Team Batting Average: .227
The Cubs pounded out 12 hits last night, including two home runs, and were 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
How About That!
Several teams have been in touch with the Nationals about shortstop Trea Turner, sources tell Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. Given the history between the two teams, I’d bet the White Sox are in play here.
The Astros need relief pitching badly. They blew a 7-0 lead against the Mariners last night. Paging Mr. Hoyer.
Jud Fabian, a second-round pick of the Red Sox in this year’s draft, reportedly won’t sign a contract. Fabian was tied to the Cubs in a lot of pre-draft mocks.
Twins owner Jom Pohlad said his team is “absolutely not” going to enter a teardown/rebuild stage this season.
Adam Frazier is excited to join the Padres, calling his new teammates the “most exciting to watch in baseball.” Imagine getting traded from Pittsburgh to San Diego. That’s like winning the Powerball twice.
The Cleveland Guardians may face a legal battle from a roller derby team for their new nickname.
Monday’s Three Stars
- Jorge Soler – The former Cubs outfielder hit two home runs for the Royals last night, the second consecutive game in which he’s had a pair of round-trippers. Kansas City upended the White Sox 4-3 and are riding a 6-game winning streak.
- Javier Báez – A game-winning RBI and that epic slow stroll to first base. Watch your head today, Javy!
- Andrew McCutchen – The Phillies outfielder went 2-for-4 with a game-winning three-run jack off of Brad Hand in the top of the 9th. That’s a good night.
I blame the uncertainty of possibly having to leave Chicago for Rizzo’s up-and-down season. He has yet to have his signature hot streak, but if the last two games are any indication, he’s warming up quite nicely. Perhaps it’s just the specter of playing in what might be his last homestand with the Cubs. That said, he’s really raking against lefties this year.
Anthony Rizzo may not be having the best of seasons but his OPS vs lefties is now .999 after a first inning HR off of Wade Miley. Smaller sample size but he's doing something right v southpaws. (4th best OPS lefty on lefty in MLB)
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) July 27, 2021
They Said It
- “One bad outing and I get traded?” Andrew Chafin, jokingly, to David Ross
- “[Chafin] is a culture changer. This guy’s been a leader in the bullpen. The way he takes the ball, right- or left(-handed hitter), it doesn’t matter what situation I’m bringing him in, it’s the same stuff. It’s the same heartbeat. We’re going to miss him.” – Ross
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
Lettin’ the Night Roll by Justin More – Country selections today in honor of “Big Country” Chafin. The dude always felt like he was one of us, and we tend to endear ourselves strongly to those types of players. He will be missed.