“Three six nine, the goose drank wine, the monkey chew tobacco on the streetcar line. The line broke, the monkey got choked, (and) they all went to heaven in a little rowboat.” – T-Bird & The Breaks, The Clap Hands Song
The Cubs have done a great job of making the Reds the least first-place, division-leading-looking team ever. Cincinnati deserves most of the credit, however, particularly on defense. In addition to making four infield errors — including three by third baseman Nick Senzel — outfielders Spencer Steer, Will Benson, and Stuart Fairchild, plus their replacements, are often out of position, run bad routes, and act like the ivy-covered Wrigley Field walls are kryptonite.
Is it any wonder the Reds are one of the league’s worst defensive teams? They will not hold onto first place through the end of the season. Trust me when I tell you that the division race will come down to the Cubs and Brewers, and a three-game set in Milwaukee to end the season could be one of those all-the-marbles series. Revenge for 2018? I’m thinking the same thing. If the Cubs keep up the massive attack on offense, the weekend series to end the regular season may not matter.
Jeimer Candelario had his second consecutive four-hit game in last night’s 16-6 win. Chicago has tattooed Reds pitchers for 36 runs and 37 hits in two days, and things are so bad that catcher Luke Maile mopped up in both contests. If Luke Weaver, who enters tonight’s contest with a 6.80 ERA, can’t get through the North Siders’ lineup at least twice, the Cubs may blow out the Reds again. Chicago’s offense is on a historical run right now.
The Cubs are the 1st team to have 10 extra base hits and 5 HR in consecutive games in MLB history. https://t.co/2X22cfhUl0
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) August 3, 2023
The Cubs will send Jameson Taillon to the mound with a lineup that will be looking to score double-digit runs for the third straight game. Chicago has won 12 of 15 (.800), they’re 29-17 (.630) since June 9, and they’ve scored a league-high 145 runs since the All-Star break. That’s how you win the bulk of your games. Ironically, Candelario is the first Cub to have eight hits in a two-game span since Kris Bryant did it in 2016.
I was a little bit leery of this homestand before it started. I’d love nothing more than to see the Cubs throttle the Reds again to set up an epic weekend battle with the Braves. Winning 5 of 6 against the White Sox and Cardinals might have been the impetus not to sell at the deadline. A similar outcome against Cincinnati and Atlanta would justify Jed Hoyer’s faith in this team.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs placed Marcus Stroman on the IL with a hip injury and recalled reliever José Cuas to take his place on the roster.
- Cuas brings a unique arm slot to Chicago’s bullpen, along with an interesting backstory.
- Stro’ said he is “not even slightly worried” about the hip injury.
- Cody Bellinger was named the NL Player of the Month for July.
- Bellinger is playing at an MVP level and has helped the surging Cubs get back into the playoff picture.
- Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic writes that Hoyer kept his word ($) by not putting the team through an extended rebuild.
- Chicago’s lineup has been relentless in the last two games.
- Kevin Alcántara was hitting a groove before injuring his left leg, but he’ll be sidelined for a few weeks. Also from the same article: Pete Crow-Armstrong improved his walk rate from 4.9% at High-A last season to 9.1% this year. He bumped his slugging percentage up nearly 30 points and has 14 home runs already this season after hitting 16 across two levels last year.
- It’s always fun to read local writers from opposing cities after their team has been crushed.
Odds & Sods
Joey Votto found out quickly why many Chicago mayors have such short shelf lives. I’d give the honor to Maile, anyway.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) August 3, 2023
- Cincinnati (59-51): Votto now has 50 career home runs against the Cubs, joining greats Frank Robinson and Johnny Bench as the only Reds to reach that mark against one team.
- Milwaukee (58-51): The Brewers were the division’s biggest winners at the deadline according to FanGraphs.
- Pittsburgh (48-59): The Pirates won’t compete for a playoff spot, but the stretch run should give the front office a good indication of where the team is in its rebuild.
- St. Louis (48-61): Cardinals superfan Daniel Donnelly, aka “Rally Runner,” was arrested for his alleged role in storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Climbing the Ladder
“There’s been so many things that held us down, but now it looks like things are finally comin’ round.” – McFadden & Whitehead, Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now
Mike Tauchman has been Chicago’s unsung hero lately. He has three homers and 17 RBI over his last 15 games, and he’s slashing .367/.407/1.080 in those contests. Ian Happ (2), Christopher Morel, Dansby Swanson, and Seiya Suzuki all homered Wednesday night. Six of Swanson’s last nine hits have been taters. In the afterglow of last night’s game, Morel predicted the Cubs will make the playoffs.
The Cubs are three games behind the Reds and 2.5 games out of the last Wild Card spot. They have the third-best run differential (+77) in the National League and they’ve raised their team batting average by 12 points since the All-Star break.
- Games Played: 108
- Record: 55-53 (.509)
- Total Plate Appearances: 4,175
- Total Strikeouts: 977
- Strikeout Rate: 23.40%
- Team Batting Average: .258
- Runs Scored: 555
- Runs Allowed: 478
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 55.5%, 4.8% to win the World Series
How About That!
ESPN graded every single trade that went down this week.
Steve Cohen loves his team’s abrupt course correction, but he looks more like a guy who can’t live with his decisions.
Senzel is adjusting to a diminished role after attempts to trade him fell through. His mind was definitely elsewhere last night.
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Dane Dunning – The Rangers righty notched 11 punchouts in 7.2 one-run, three-hit innings as Texas clobbered the White Sox 11-1.
- Happ, Gary Sánchez, and Chas McCormick – All had two-tater days in leading their teams to victory.
- Ronald Acuña Jr. – The dynamic Braves outfielder and leading MVP candidate was 3-for-4 with four runs scored, a home run, and three RBI in Atlanta’s 12-5 win over the Angels.
Here comes the Happ-Stepper!
Return of the Happer. pic.twitter.com/GufzTNzR5o
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 3, 2023
Thursday Morning Six-Pack
- Here’s how to change app icons on an iPhone in case you miss your Tweety Bird.
- A mindless game will guess where you are from based on your dialect if you’re bored. I mean, I already know I’m from Chicago.
- The Mega-Millions jackpot is up to $1.25 billion, but you won’t win.
- It’s Lollapalooza week in Chicago and the Wisconsin State Fair commences this afternoon. So many Midwest choices, so little time to partake.
- The NFL preseason also begins tonight when the Jets take on the Browns in the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, OH.
- The Beatles played The Cavern Club 292 times as young lads, but today marks the 60th anniversary of their last show at the legendary Liverpool hotspot.
They Said It
- “Thinking back, the unknown of it was kind of hard to wrap your head around. The identity of the Cubs was so closely tied to those players for so long. As it should have been; they’re awesome players and people. So anyone who could have said we were going to be good again soon — it’s good to be optimistic but nobody really knew what that would look like.” – Nico Hoerner
- “It’s enjoyable to be in the race, for sure. My manager brain wants to go, ‘We’ve got a long way to go.’ We haven’t done anything up to this point. And we’re still a good way back from the team across the way. We’ve got to go out and compete for a couple more games with them and chase them down. Tough week ahead of us, Atlanta coming in here. We’ve got some really good teams we’re going to play this week. There’s a lot of baseball games ahead.” – David Ross
- “[Cuas] is confident in who he is. And when he’s out there, he’s aggressive, he’s got that aggressive mentality. And that’s something fun to pick up on right away. He’s not going to back down from any moment.” – Tommy Hottovy
Thursday Walk-Up Song
The Cubs are natural-born world-shakers right now.