The Rundown: Week of Winnable Games Ahead, Smokies on Fire: Almora with Another Multi-Hit Game, McKinney Homers

After a whirlwind of a week, the Cubs had a much-needed day off yesterday.

An “easy” stretch begins today, with a home series against the depleted Brewers, followed by a weekend series against the White Sox. The Pirates and Cardinals will be facing off against each other, so maybe the Cubs can make up some ground on at least one of them.

Tonight, Dan Haren makes his second start as a Cub. The Cubs haven’t been great this season on games following a day off. Let’s hope they can change that.

Hot Smokies

The Tennessee Smokies continue to play well, as they won last night. Outfielder Albert Almora collected another two hits — his sixth straight multi-hit game. He finished 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.

Catcher Wilson Contreras also went 2-for-4 with a run and RBI. Billy McKinney, DH’ing last night, had a big night: 2-for-3 with a home run, double, a walk, two runs scored and two RBIs.

On the mound, Ryan Williams continued his outstanding season, pitching six scoreless innings. He gave up only one hit and struck out five.

Lots of interesting pieces on this team to follow.

Other notes

* Rick Sutcliffe joined the Waddle and Silvy show yesterday. I’m usually not a huge ESPN fan, but there were some interesting bits to the interview. (You can find it around the 2-hour, 15-minute mark.) It seems pretty clear that Sutcliffe is close to Theo Epstein. This winter, he helped Epstein recruit Jon Lester. Over the weekend while in the Cubs TV booth, Sutcliffe talked about how Theo had been complaining to him about the umpire’s strike zone, similar to a fan on his couch.

* In the Waddle and Silvy interview, Sutcliffe admits that Epstein and Joe Maddon were hoping for Starlin Castro to get hot before the trade deadline, and that they were shopping him. Definitely something we have heard before, but interesting to hear confirmed in this manner.

* Also, for something that I’m sure will be debated countless times before the end of the season: If the Cubs end up in a one-game wild card playoff, who takes the mound? Sutcliffe said Jon Lester. I’d agree, although I don’t think Jake Arrieta is a wrong answer. Arrieta has better stuff, but Lester has the experience. Assuming the timing lines up, I’d go with Lester.

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