The Rundown: Cubs Escape Bucs with Help from Karma, Smokies Can Hit, I-Cubs Can Run

The Cubs weren’t supposed to win on Friday. When you lose leads of 7-1 and 10-5, you deserve to lose; the baseball gods have deemed you unworthy and you need to tuck your tail between your legs and limp home. Ah, but this Cubs team is starting to look like one that cares not for what the gods think. After all, they’ve got karma on their side.

Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli had a great day at the plate, going 3-for-6 with 4 RBI, but he paid the price when squatting behind it. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen another backstop take such a beating; between foul tips and bad pitches, Cervelli looked like he was being prepped for my world-famous chicken parmesan. But while karma may have bruised his body, she didn’t take a bite out of his pride. No, that bit of ignominy she saved for right fielder Gregory Polanco.

Let this be a lesson to all corner outfielders not named Jorge Soler: thou shalt not throw out the winning Cubs run at the plate. In the bottom of the 10th with the score tied at 10, Starlin Castro tried to tag on a short fly from Matt Szczur and was thrown out at the plate by Polanco. I’m sure the Pirates were really happy about the play at the time, as it prolonged the game, but I wonder if they’d have thought otherwise had they realized the full weight of Polanco’s actions.

Cut to the 12th inning with Castro again standing 90 feet from victory and the young man with the difficult name stood at the plate with a chance to win the game. Again he lofted a short fly to right, only this time Castro had thought better of tagging up. And then…Polanco…fell…down. In what may have been the most awkward play I’ve ever seen a professional athlete make, the talented outfielder tripped over his own cleats and crashed to turf, feebly waving at the ball in a feeble attempt to knock it down.

I know I’m not alone when I say that this felt like the kind of thing that would happen to the Cubs, not for them. But these aren’t your nephew’s Cubs, no sir. This a team that’s both willing and able to take matters into its own hands and seize destiny, rather than just allow the fates to have their way with it. That’s why it’s so fitting that one dictator would drive in another to win a game that their team seemed to be trying to give away.

Esoteric nominal references aside, Friday’s game stood as yet another example of the differences in this Cubs team. They’re young, but these kids can play ball. My God, can they play. And while they’re going to make their share of mistakes, you can’t help but believe that they’re going to more than make up for them with an abundance of talent and wherewithal that belies their youth.

I don’t care if I sound like a honk or a shill, I just love watching these guys play ball. They’re not overwhelmed by the combined millennia of disappointed we’ve only begun to heap upon them and all signs seem to point to the fact that they won’t care when we really start to freak out over the possibility that they might really be capable of something big. If this is how they respond when they pressure’s on in May, I can’t wait to see what they do in October.

Smoke show in full effizect

I don’t think anyone doubted that Southern League pitchers were going to dribble urine down their legs when faced with the Tennessee Smokies lineup, but Friday night was proof that they might as well just have catheters installed. The Cubs’ AA affiliate scored 9 runs vs. Montgomery behind, who else, Kyle Shwarber and Dan Vogelbach. In all, five Smokies had multi-hit game.

Oh, did I mention that one of those hits was another Schwarbomb? You might want to have a drool-towel ready before you watch this.

I-Cubs aggressive on the bases

It’s pretty clear that the Chicago Cubs have been much more aggressive on the basepaths this season, whether that’s going 1st to 3rd, stealing, or putting the hit-and-run on play. But they’re not the only ones with that mentality, as their AAA brethren showed on Friday.


Other notes

*Adrian Beltre is good. 400 home runs good.

*Rockies not planning to trade Tulo, despite reports that he’d be requesting a move. Here’s the thing: I get wanting to be a part of a winner, but I don’t get public trade demands. I just seems like the coward’s way out to me. I understand wanting to win, but there’s got to be a better way to leverage things. I’m not how much veracity there is here, but Rockies GM Jeff Bridich says he’s not trading the superstar SS.

*Please listen to my demo. I jumped on the Finding October podcast with Drew Brown this week and we talked about the Cubs’ roller coaster season and how Joe Maddon may be able to combat their youth. It’s good stuff, people.


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