The Rundown: Steele Effective in First Start, Some Replacement Cubs Standing Out, Royals Catcher Recognizes Hard-Working Fans
“This is the mystery of the coldest quotient; upon us all, upon us all, a little rain must fall.” – Led Zeppelin, The Rain Song
Yesterday’s weather provided a perfect metaphor for the Cubs, at least the version we’ve been watching since July 31. The North Siders are 1-8 (.111) this month and 8-18 (.307) since the All-Star break as they head toward a 96-loss season, if not worse. After being swept by the Brewers in yesterday’s doubleheader, their record stands at 52-63. The Cubs have lost six straight, their second-longest losing streak this season behind the 11-game tailspin that ignited the Great Reset.
There were a few bright spots, however, and Justin Steele was one. Despite taking the loss in the afternoon affair, Steele pitched well until he unraveled over a series of eight pitches in the top of the 4th that saw him allow a double to Eduardo Escobar and home runs to Lorenzo Cain and Avisaíl García. The young lefty had allowed one infield single up to that point and was lifted after five innings and 70 pitches.
Home run No. 17 for @PatrickWisdom5!#DailyWisdom pic.twitter.com/FNQFUqxkNh
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 11, 2021
Patrick Wisdom broke out of a mini-slump in the nightcap to go 2-for-3 with his first home run since July 29. Wisdom has hit just .207 (6-for-29) with 12 strikeouts since the trade deadline. The Cubs lost 6-3 in a game that never really felt like they had a chance to win, even when they had the lead. That may have been due to weather delays and the combined 14 pitchers that were used in the seven-inning affair.
Though he’s probably not a long-term outfield solution, Rafael Ortega has been on fire since mid-July, slashing .410/.459/1.113 OPS in his last 25 games. If anything, he’s earned the right to start next season depending on what the Cubs do in free agency. The 30-year-old entered last night’s game with a 141 OPS+ in 148 plate appearances.
Things don’t get any better tonight as Chicago draws Corbin Burnes, who struck out 10 batters in six innings without a walk the last time he faced the Cubs. The home team will counter with Jake Arrieta, who is still trying to get untracked since returning from the IL and needs to string together a few strong starts to be part of any team’s plans next season.
Cubs News & Notes
- Steele proved he has a bright future as a starter in yesterday’s first game.
- The young left-hander has the big arsenal that should keep him in the rotation beyond this season.
- Steele said yesterday was a dream come true. “It means the world to me to get out there and start for the Chicago Cubs. It’s something I’ve been dreaming of my entire life.”
- Ortega and Wisdom are playing like they want to be part of the team’s next core, though both are a little older than the rookies who will be making their way to Chicago in the coming seasons.
- Greg Deichmann is also hoping to find a permanent gig with the North Siders.
- The Cubs activated relief pitcher Rowan Wick off the 60-day injured list and optioned Trevor Megill to Triple-A Iowa in between games yesterday.
- By virtue of the sweep, the Brewers improved to 11-3 against the Cubs on the season and stretched their lead in the NL Central to seven games over the Reds.
- Brennen Davis continues to rake for Double-A Tennessee. Davis has seven hits, with five going for extra bases, over his last four games. Let’s hope that the league and the MLBPA resolve the service time issue before the young outfielder makes his big league debut.
- Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said few teams embrace the concept of tanking more vigorously than the Cubs.
Odds & Sods
“This is God’s punishment for seven-inning doubleheaders.” – Danny Rockett
#Cubs weather report. pic.twitter.com/ZTJIoq0qB8
— Danny Rockett (@SonRanto) August 11, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“All I can say is that my life is pretty plain, I like watching the puddles gather in the rain.” – Blind Melon, No Rain
- Games Played: 115
- Total Plate Appearances: 4,212
- Total Strikeouts: 1,115
- Strikeout Rate: 26.5%
- Team Batting Average: .228
Ortega was 4-for-8 in the two games yesterday and shows the kind of aggressiveness and energy on the basepaths that is somewhat reminiscent of Javier Báez, though a little less flashy.
How About That!
Báez missed last night’s game due to lower back tightness. The shortstop is hitting just .176 since being traded by Chicago.
The White Sox and Yankees are embracing a “once-in-a-lifetime feeling” as they prepare for Thursday’s Field of Dreams game.
The Orioles have been outscored 63-23 in their last six games and became the first team in nine years to allow nine or more runs in six consecutive tilts.
The Rangers beat the Mariners last night to end a 14-game road losing streak.
The worst baseball uniforms ever feature a crabs logo on the seat of the trousers.
Dodgers infielder Trea Turner made a nifty slide into home in last night’s game against the Phillies, beating a rocket from Bryce Harper to score.
It troubles me to write this, but former Cleveland shortstop Omar Vizquel has been accused of sexually harassing an autistic batboy. It’s a tough read, especially the first paragraph, which wastes no time in getting into the sordid details.
Tuesday’s Three Stars
- Salvador Perez – The Kansas City catcher homered twice to set a career-high with 29 on a 2-for 3 night as the Royals upended the Yankees 8-4.
- MLB Relievers – Due to heavy schedules, injuries, and weather delays, 11 starters pitched four innings or less yesterday.
- J.A. Happ – The St. Louis hurler, who was acquired at the trade deadline, held the Pirates to one hit in the Cardinals’ 4-1 win in Pittsburgh. Happ had five strikeouts on the night.
Not a Star
Ian Happ was 1-for-5 in yesterday’s doubleheader with four strikeouts and is now slashing .178/.288/.322 on the season. He’s struck out 106 times in 298 at-bats and has more punchouts than total bases (96).
It’s nice to see a player recognize the absurd costs of attending a baseball game.
Salvador Perez hit two homers and singled tonight — the night that marked the 10-year anniversary of his debut. Asked him afterward what's behind his joy, and the way he plays the game. Here was his response: pic.twitter.com/vC4D7PYQJj
— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) August 11, 2021
They Said It
- “Just realized that there were more pitches to be made and I just went right back at them [after giving up the 4th inning home runs]. Brush it right off. You’ve got to get over those things quickly. It’s baseball.” – Justin Steele
- “That’s one of those keys, to continue to pitch, get us some more outs, especially in today’s [doubleheader]. It was nice for him to settle in and still give us some outs after that, but things happen quickly, especially here sometimes, and he settled in nicely and definitely locked it back in. It was nice to see.” – David Ross
- “Honestly, I’ve never doubted that I’ve had the ability to be a Major League starter and a Major League player. It’s all about having the opportunity, being given a proper chance. And I think I’m receiving that right now. That’s what I’m taking advantage of.” – Rafael Ortega
Wednesday Walk-Up Song
Loser by Beck – It would be nice to string together a few wins, though starting a winning streak against Burnes is probably next to impossible.