There’s a (semi) modern parable that tells of a census-taker who’s nearing the end of his allotted rounds. The last house on the list is down at the end of a very long drive flanked by trees, many of which have “Beware of Dog” signs tacked up. The census-taker’s fear grows as gravel crunches beneath his tires, sure as he is that some massive beast is going to come bounding toward his door as soon as he reaches his destination.
You’ve read Cujo, right?
Setting decorum aside, the man taps his horn as he approaches the home, remaining safely in the confines of the car. He notices a flicker of movement on the periphery and jerks his head to the left to see a figure — the homeowner — emerging from a barn. Bounding and yapping at the man’s feet is a Shih Tzu that looks like a bag of cotton balls with legs and a hyperactivity disorder.
“That’s the dog?” he asks incredulously.
“But no one would be scared of that thing.”
“You’re right, but the signs sure worked.”
Lest I turn the sharp instrument of my wit into a blunt mallet, I’m talking about the Cardinals’ two-run lead late in Saturday’s game. After watching Jon Lester cruise through seven-plus innings, Paul DeJong and Randal Grichuk — because of course it was those two — played ding, dong, ditch and put the dominant lefty in line for a loss.
Between the Cubs’ own anemic efforts at the plate in the face of the equal dominance of Adam Wainwright, an otherwise nominal lead felt like an insurmountable deficit. The home runs warned of a dog that otherwise had neither bark nor bite enough to frighten, causing fans to hunker down and honk for the homeowner.
They tapped the horn when Jason Heyward lined out to open the bottom of the 8th and laid on it when Ian Happ went down swinging. Ben Zobrist doubling home Jon Jay (he had singled, did I forget to mention that?) was the flicker of movement off in the distance and Kris Bryant’s RBI single was seeing the man step forth with a little yipe-yipe dog circling his boots.
Finally, seeing Mike Matheny opt for a lefty reliever to face Anthony Rizzo was the nigh-hysterical laughter that ensued when sweet relief washed over the census-taker and he realized how silly his fear was. Because it wasn’t just any lefty reliever. It was Brett Cecil, a man who has some very stark reverse splits (.927 OPS vs. LHH). And he was facing a batter with some pretty serious reverse splits of his own (1.022 vs. LHP).
It may have been one of the Matheniest moves ever, and it led to a bloop double — which was really a single with a favorable scoring decision — that scored Kris Bryant from first. Let’s not make this out to be some sort of miracle; Bryant was on the move with a full count and Dexter Fowler’s arm induces about as much fear as the puffball pooch from my story.
Even so, reaching 28.6 ft/sec (approx. 19.5 mph) to round the bases on the play is not unimpressive. It’s the kind of play most guys could never dream of making. In his own words, Bryant is “pretty fast.” When he put the Cubs ahead with their third run in the inning, Bryant effectively stole the show from DeJong, who had made about 37 plays at short prior to belting what could have been the game-winning home run.
The MVP was all smiles after the game (warning: explicit language, though not from KB).
I'm really fast pic.twitter.com/wOR9mzckWk
— Cubs Insider (@realcubsinsider) July 22, 2017
Cards willing to deal
Though they’re still in the thick of things in the NL Central, the Cardinals aren’t really built for the long haul the way the roster currently stands.
“[Other teams] know we’re open for business,” Cards president John Mozeliak said Saturday.
The talks at this point center on veteran starter Lance Lynn, a rental whose strong first half could command a solid return from a team even more in the hunt than the Cards. Thing is, St. Louis might be convinced to hold onto their cards (get it?) if they can string together a few wins.
It’s got to be a tough position for Lynn, who is well aware that he’s being scouted by several teams in need of pitching help. Derrick Gould reported that as many as eight teams — including the Rockies, Dodgers, and Royals — were in attendance for Lynn’s last start and that Mozeliak has talked to the pitcher about the situation.
Perhaps the Cubs can do a little more to push their rivals closer to a decision this afternoon.
More news and notes
- Jaime Garcia still hasn’t been traded, though talks continue
- The Marlins sale continues to be murky as hell
- The Rays acquired Sergio Romo from the Dodgers for cash or a PTBNL
- The inscription of PLACT — Play Like A Champion Today — on Jon Lester’s cap was a tribute to his late uncle, a Notre Dame alum