Let’s kick things off this morning with “Wipeout” by the Surfaris.
If you watched last night’s Cubs game, it’s not difficult to believe they’re destined for postseason baseball. Kyle Hendricks had a rough night, the outfield defense looked awkward at times, and Chicago trailed the Giants by multiple runs on two occasions. None of that mattered as the Cubs scored double-digit runs for the 22nd time this season, a team record. Chicago emerged with an 11-8 win thanks to big nights by Seiya Suzuki and Christopher Morel.
Suzuki has been on fire for 25 games (.342 BA with seven homers, 19 XBH, and 18 RBI) and had four hits last night with another home run. Morel punctuated the win with a three-run bomb to center in the 7th inning. He accentuated said blast with an underhanded bat flip that was subtly aggressive.
Just wait for it. 🤣 pic.twitter.com/87Nq76wwUG
— Cut4 (@Cut4) September 6, 2023
The Cubs have won 11 times when they’ve trailed in the 6th inning or later, and they’re now 11 games over .500 for the first time this season. They feel destined for more, though you’d be forgiven if you need a roll of Rolaids while scoreboard-watching. The Brewers parlayed a six-run 5th inning into a win over the Pirates, and the Reds and Marlins won too. Chicago trails Milwaukee by 2.5 games and they maintained a three-game lead over the Reds for the second Wild Card. The Diamondbacks and Phillies lost, so the Cubs are just a game and a half behind Philadelphia for WC1.
If you had told me at the beginning of the season that three NL Central teams would be in the playoff hunt with approximately two dozen games left I probably would have laughed myself to death. The Cubs had a chance to bury the Reds over the weekend and didn’t. The Giants, however, will wake up this morning feeling steamrolled and sinking faster than Radio Caroline.
Jordan Wicks will take the mound this afternoon with a chance to sweep San Francisco, then the Cubs will have a chance to put a dent in Arizona’s playoff hopes.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs are finally getting a lefty arm in the bullpen with the promotion of Luke Little.
- Justin Steele has pitched much better after setting a career-high in innings pitched.
- David Ross said Steele is “fun to watch.”
- Ross also said Morel “has thunder in his bat.”
- The Cubs fed off the energy of Carlos Zambrano in the bottom of the 7th inning after the former Cub sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
- The Cubs earned an A for acquiring Jeimer Candelario at the deadline.
- Marcus Stroman showed progress in his latest bullpen session but he’s not quite ready to rejoin the Cubs.
- The Cubs will have to decide who will be their No. 3 starter if they do make the playoffs. Wicks has to be in the conversation if he has another stellar effort today. Javier Assad deserves it the most, however.
- Pete Crow-Armstrong hit his third grand slam of the season Tuesday night. Perhaps the Cubs will call him up and sit him on the bench.
- One of the reasons that Alexander Canario has been unable to see the field is because he’s been a slow starter each time the Cubs promoted him.
- Cade Horton is Chicago’s prospect of the year according to CBS Sports.
- The Cubs would play the Phillies in the Wild Card round if the season ended today.
- Chicago is a bona fide threat to go on a deep postseason run.
- The journey back to the major leagues by Mike Tauchman has exceeded his expectations.
Odds & Sods
White Sox fans finally get it.
In 2019-21 Sox fans said the team was being built to “avoid becoming the Cubs” after extending the core and not spending $ on free agents.
Cubs: 75-64 with a fun, likable team after a 2 year rebuild
Sox: The laughingstock of baseball with a 53-86 record while “contending”
— Joe Crede is the 🐐 (@JoeCrede) September 6, 2023
- Milwaukee (77-61): The Brewers rank 26th in MLB with a team OPS of .693 yet still lead the NL Central.
- Cincinnati (73-68): A COVID-19 breakout that happened between games of a doubleheader with the Cubs has left the Reds with a starting rotation of pitchers who were all in the minors before June 4.
- Pittsburgh (64-75): The Pirates have shut down top draft pick Paul Skenes for the rest of the season.
- St. Louis (60-78): The Cardinals have moved struggling starter Matthew Liberatore to the bullpen, though the move is not expected to be permanent.
Climbing the Ladder
“Pa pa oom mow m-mow. Pa pa pa oom m-mow mow.” – The Trashmen, Surfin’ Bird
Yan Gomes has almost been as hot as Suzuki. The veteran catcher has been great in clutch situations, too. Every player in Chicago’s lineup started the game with an OBP of .300 or higher. The North Siders seem relentless at times and score a lot of runs because they get on base a lot.
The Cubs are 49-28 (.636) since June 8. If they continue at that pace they’ll finish the season with 90 wins.
- Games Played: 139
- Record: 75-64 (.540)
- Total Plate Appearances: 5,325
- Total Strikeouts: 1,217
- Strikeout Rate: 22.85%
- Team Batting Average: .254
- Runs Scored: 708
- Runs Allowed: 613
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 90.8%, 2.9% to win the World Series
How About That!
The Mets get a chance to play spoiler this month because all of their remaining games after today are against playoff contenders.
José Altuve is on a historic home run heater and has singlehandedly pushed the Astros into first place. He has three home runs in the first three innings of last night’s game after hitting two the night before.
The league intends to keep the pitch clock during the postseason.
Tuesday’s Three Stars
- Altuve – He was three for five with three taters and three RBI while leading the Astros to a 14-1 win over the Rangers.
- Suzuki – The right fielder was 4-for-5 with a home run and three RBI.
- José Cuas – You don’t pad your counting stats when you come in to get an out or two, but Cuas simply gets the job done each time he takes the mound.
You could make the argument that Suzuki’s rebound has made the Cubs playoff contenders. Chicago is 16-9 (.640) since Ross gave him a timeout.
SEIYA SUZUKI. NO DOUBT. pic.twitter.com/X84TESDVZ0
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) September 6, 2023
Wednesday Morning Six-Pack
- The Bears dropped their Week 1 depth chart and Nathan Peterman leapfrogged Tyson Bagent to be the primary backup to Justin Fields. Jaquan Brisker is feeling frisky about the Packers game and delivered a shot right across Green Bay’s bow.
- I took a look at Chicago’s wide receiver and tight end groups yesterday, too. I’ll try to get to the offensive and defensive lines today.
- A near-mint Michael Jordan rookie card was found in an abandoned Iowa safe deposit box and is up for auction. The opening bid was $4,000 and subsequent bids must be in $50 increments.
- Charter Communications and Disney are in a battle that could change the landscape of cable TV. Either the two sides will come to an agreement, which will force other streaming companies to link up with cable providers, or Charter will exit the industry, likely spelling the end of linear TV. Disney also owns Hulu and ESPN, which means 15 million viewers could be in the dark for Week 1 of Monday Night Football. Charter wants to include Disney’s streaming services for free in its cable packages but Disney refused. Disney asked for higher licensing fees, but Charter won’t agree to that unless it gets concessions, like an option to remove sports channels from more packages.
- A new law in New York City went into effect yesterday that could erase thousands of the ~38,500 Airbnb listings in the metropolis and possibly offer a blueprint for other cities aiming to limit properties bubbling in Ikea glory.
- Surfin’ Bird was the first punk song in my opinion and I’ll die on that hill. Short format? Check. Fast tempo with distorted riffs? Check and check. Hell, the song was also a staple at Ramones concerts in the late 1970s.
They Said It
- “We know that the pressure is on us. You want pressure. That means there’s something riding on it. We go out there every single day and we want that feeling. It’s not going to grind you down because it’s a sprint to the end. We see where we’re headed now. There’s no taking our foot off the gas or getting fatigued at all.” – Hendricks
- “We have a lot of confidence on this team in Morel. Christopher is a hard worker. He’s always staying ready. Some other guys have kinda solidified some roles and with Candy being here, he’s playing a lot. I think Christopher’s a really big part of this team. What he’s got, that thunder in his bat, the versatility he brings us, you’re gonna have moments like that.” – Ross
- “[The team] believes in themselves. I love this team but the group in there has believed in themselves since Spring Training. It’s very obvious. This team talks about winning. There’s a lot of winners in that room, guys with hardware. We’ve talked about that for a long time.” – Ross
- “[Morel] is amazing. He has such a knack for incredible moments and it seems like it really elevates his focus. He’s electric and that was a totally game-changing moment.” – Nico Hoerner
Wednesday Walk-Up Song
Surfers hit the North end of Atwater and Bradford Beaches here in Milwaukee every September because of their 2-4 foot breaks.