“Don’t accept that what’s happening is just another case of suffering.” – Pink Floyd, On the Turning Away
There was a point last night when I thought to myself that things were too good to be true. The Cubs were up 6-0 on the Braves and the Diamondbacks were trailing the White Sox 3-0. Then, as I was visualizing the standings and calculating magic numbers in my head, the floorboards disintegrated. The North Siders lost in stunning fashion and the South Siders White-Soxed their way to another loss.
You could hear the helium escaping the balloon that has been the 2023 season, and it almost feels like the Cubs will have to run the table to get into the playoffs. It’s also obvious the baseball gods aren’t going to provide any divine intervention. Some are putting last night’s 7-6 loss on the shoulders of Seiya Suzuki, but that’s unfair. He’s been Chicago’s best hitter for over a month and you could blame the bullpen just as much.
The Cubs need a win today, some help from the White Sox and Mets, and a miracle or two in their final five games.
Cubs News & Notes
- Late mistakes and a few too many walks by the bullpen cost the Cubs on Tuesday evening.
- All of Suzuki’s teammates have rallied on his behalf after last night’s devastating error, including Drew Smyly, who was hung with the loss.
- Mile Mastrobuoni is having a quietly solid second half.
- Kevin Pillar hit a solo home run off of Justin Steele last night, the Braves’ 300th tater of the season.
- Last night’s game was a homecoming for Dansby Swanson after seven seasons with the Braves.
- Swanson sees the Atlanta series as a way for the entire team to recharge its batteries.
- We’re all hoping the White Sox, Cardinals, and Mets can provide a little assistance this week.
- Some Cubs fans might feel that anything less than a championship is an unsuccessful season.
- There are still five games left, but David Schoenfield of ESPN gave Chicago a B-grade ($) for the 2023 season.
- The Tennessee Smokies won their first outright championship in 45 years with a 10-3 win over the Pensacola Blue Wahoos Tuesday night.
Odds & Sods
Yup. Brant Brown now trending. pic.twitter.com/9Y3nu54Dlr
— Joe Ostrowski (@JoeOstrowski) September 27, 2023
- Milwaukee (88-69): The Cardinals beat the Brewers 4-1, but Milwaukee earned its third NL Central crown in six years because the Cubs lost.
- Cincinnati (81-77): The Reds kept their playoff hopes alive with an 11-7 win over the Guardians.
- Pittsburgh (74-83): Mitch Keller passed A.J. Burnett for the most strikeouts (210) in a single season by a Pirates righty. Bob Veale (276) and Oliver Perez (239) — both lefties — are the franchise all-time leaders.
- St. Louis (69-88): Adam Wainwright is retiring and won’t start again this season, but he wants one last at-bat before he hangs ’em up.
- Chicago’s loss gave the Brewers the NL Central crown and the No. 3 seed in this year’s playoffs.
- The Phillies beat the Pirates to clinch a Wild Cards spot and their magic number is down to one to secure a home series against the No. 5 seed.
- The Diamondbacks lead the Cubs by one game for WC2.
- The Marlins were rained out in New York but gained a half-game on the Cubs for the final Wild Card berth.
- If the season ended today, the Braves and Dodgers would have first-round byes, the Cubs would play a best-of-three series at Milwaukee, and the Phillies would host the Diamondbacks in a best-of-three series.
Climbing the Ladder
“The wolf’s at the door with his teeth and his claws.” – The Rolling Stones, Angry
Suzuki had another stellar day at the plate, finishing 2-for-5 with a triple and two RBI. Cody Bellinger was 3-for-4 with an RBI and has plated 96 runners this season. Nico Hoerner stole his 43rd base of the season last night, too.
- Games Played: 157
- Record: 82-75 (.522)
- Total Plate Appearances: 6,026
- Total Strikeouts: 1,340
- Strikeout Rate: 22.24%
- Team Batting Average: .256
- Runs Scored: 798
- Runs Allowed: 698
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 54.3%, 2.6% to win the World Series
How About That!
MLB has failed to properly hype the upcoming postseason, particularly at ESPN, which is hosting the entire Wild Card round.
Hader said he doesn’t like being asked to get more than three outs, which will likely impact his negotiations this winter.
The Padres eliminated the Giants from postseason contention, but they’re also one game away from extinction.
Tuesday’s Three Stars
- Christian Walker – The slugging first baseman led the Diamondbacks to a big win with three hits in five at-bats with six RBI. Walker homered twice and hit a triple.
- Elly De La Cruz – The rookie shortstop belted two home runs with four RBI in Cincinnati’s win over Cleveland.
- Kyle Bradish – The Orioles starter tossed eight innings of three-hit, shutout baseball in a 1-0 win over the Nationals.
Congratulations to Cade Horton and the Smokies!
Here is the final line score from tonight's CHAMPIONSHIP victory! pic.twitter.com/TQJqZdM7ed
— Tennessee Smokies (@smokiesbaseball) September 27, 2023
Tuesday Morning Six-Pack
- Joe Biden became the first sitting US president to join workers on a picket line when he stood with striking members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union in Michigan yesterday, telling the picketers that they “deserve a significant raise.” The POTUS backs EVs for the environment, but the UAW worries that EV plants require less labor, the outsourcing of jobs to other countries, and also, potentially less pay.
- Donald Trump, who is skipping tonight’s GOP debate to speak to auto workers instead, blasted Biden’s EV policies on Truth Social, claiming they’ll “annihilate the US auto industry.”
- The FCC is planning to reinstate net neutrality rules requiring internet providers to treat all websites the same and not throttle sites that won’t pay for faster speeds.
- Google turns 25 today, so, as is customary in these parts, celebrate accordingly. The massive search engine also keeps an archive of every celebratory Doodle in case you need something to pass the time until tonight’s Cubs-Braves game.
- Target said it will close nine stores in New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland because of organized retail crime. That’s ironic because retail feels a lot like organized crime at times. Thanks, inflation!
- How about a list of the worst albums by the most brilliant musicians, including “The Final Cut” by Pink Floyd?
Bonus: The Rolling Stones have partnered with MLB to distribute special, limited edition versions of their new album, “Hackney Diamonds.”
They Said It
- “It happens to every single one of us. We’ve all made errors. All we can do is turn the page and come back tomorrow. We got five more games. Seiya’s been one of the best hitters in the league this whole month. He’s been carrying the team. We all support him and have his back.” – Smyly
- “We’re not going to highlight one mistake. There are other areas. We could have scored more runs. We had guys at third with less than two outs, and we could have made some pitches earlier in the game. But we didn’t. We’ve got to pick our heads up.” – David Ross
- “This team’s been really resilient with all the things that have been thrown at them all year. It will be another test, for sure, but this team had their back against the wall all year and answered the bell.” – Ross
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
This terrific song by the Pretenders was released this week in 1982.