Oh, how the worm has turned.
Downtrodden and derelict following a 3-game skid that included 2 losses to the Phillies, the Cubs then rattled off 3 in a row in Pittsburgh to cut their Wild Card gap to 2 games. That’s very not not good. If you’re bad with double-negatives, I just said that what the Cubs did isn’t something that wouldn’t be considered successful, which is to say that people should be happy.
No matter how you say it, winning 3 of 4 is big no matter who you’re playing. But when you’re playing a division rival — and one who sits directly ahead of you in the standings — it’s that much sweeter. And while Kyle Hendricks was less than sharp on Thursday, the offense made up for any issues.
Anthony Rizzo hasn’t been a picture of consistency lately, so it was nice to see him go yard in the matinee. That homer jump-started a 6-run 5th that featured 7 hits, including a 2-run double from reliever Clayton Richard. Does it get any more karmic than a twice-waived pitcher driving in runs against the team from which the Cubs acquired him?
Kang lost for season
I don’t think there’s any right way to say this, so I’ll just put it out there: I’m not happy at all about Jung Ho Kang getting injured, but I’m pleased that the Pirates are not as strong as possible as they head into the stretch. That probably sounds really cold, but I’m separating my sympathy for the individual from my assessment of the situation.
Listen, I’ve been where Kang is — well, except for the fame and fortune — and I understand the pain he’s going through, both physical and emotional. But I also understand that this is a business and the goal is to perform better than your competitor. To that end, the Cubs’ chances of outperforming a team they’ve already beaten in 10 of 16 attempts just got better.
Magic number is Baez
Javier Baez has been an absolute revelation since he came back up, so it’s only right to assign his name to the Cubs’ magic number, which now stands at 9. That means any combination of Cubs wins and Giants losses totaling 9 will guarantee a Cubs playoff spot. With 16 games left to play, achieving that total seems a foregone conclusion. Don’t tell that to the Debbie Downers though.
Milo Hamilton dead at 88
It’s probably unfair of me to harbor ill feelings for a man I have next to zero direct knowledge of, but I can’t say I was a fan of Milo Hamilton. It’s more acceptable to say all kinds of nice things about people once they pass away, but I will always love Harry Caray and the stories of Hamilton’s attempts to disparage and undermine the venerated Cubs broadcaster have colored my opinion.
Many may remember Hamilton as the voice behind the call of Hank Aaron’s 715th home run, and his legacy is surely bound with stronger ties to that than to any spat with Harry. And I will say that it’s always sad to deal with the passing of baseball’s old guard, curmudgeonly though some of that group may be.
At a time like this, I look to guys like Pat Hughes and Len Kasper and realize how lucky we are as fans to have them calling Cubs games. I’m sure many felt the same about Milo Hamilton, and to them I offer my condolences. This sport we love is timeless, but those who participate in it are not. Godspeed, Mr. Hamilton.