The Rundown: Lester Kicks Off Big Brewers Series, Yelich Sidelined, Atlanta Trolls Bryce Harper With ‘Go Cubs Go’

Can somebody get us a rainout? Looks like we got ourselves a genuine natural disaster.

With the way the Cubs have struggled through the first week of the season, an extra day off was probably for the best. Now it’s off to Milwaukee, where Chicago finds itself looking up at the Brewers in the standings. Hopefully we’ll see a better effort offensively, because the Cubs haven’t scored a run in their last 18 innings. A feast-or-famine offense led to last year’s early-season struggles, and so far things aren’t much different through five games. It’s early, though, and a turnaround is a likely.

Milwaukee’s starters struggled against the Cardinals in their recent series, posting a combined 6.07 ERA over the past three games. The Cubs will look to take advantage of that trend.

Jon Lester will take the bump tonight in Miller Park, squaring off against Brent Suter. Lester did not face Milwaukee last season and is 3-2 with a 2.77 ERA in six career starts against the Brewers.

Cubs News & Notes

Hot-hitting Christian Yelich will miss tonight’s game with an oblique injury. In 27 plate appearances, he’s hitting .385/.407/.577 with a home run, five RBI, and six runs scored. Oblique injuries usually require a stint on the DL, but the Milwaukee front office is hoping it’s a minor issue. Yelich will be reevaluated by the team later today.

Ian Happ’s alleged defensive limitations didn’t scare the Cubs off when they selected him 9th overall in the 2015 draft. “There was kind of a false narrative about Ian out there,” said Theo Epstein. “So our scouts did a great job of digging deeper.

The Cubs are offering fans an opportunity to purchase game tickets for $10.

The Atlanta Braves organist usually trolls Bryce Harper by playing ‘The Imperial March’ from Star Wars when he walks up to the plate. Atlanta raised the stakes a little the other day, playing “Go, Cubs, Go” as Harper stepped into the box. Tremendous foreshadowing, although “New York, New York” was also played.

Joe Maddon is a fan of the Cubs-Brewers rivalry.

How About That!

One day after Shohei Ohtani hit an electrifying three-run homer in his first home plate appearance, the Japanese rookie connected for a game-tying two-run homer off of AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber.

The Colorado Rockies extended OF Charlie Blackmon yesterday. That’s one less impact player in next season’s amazing group of potential free-agents.

Alex Rodriguez is a hit in the television booth. ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, which featured A-Rod’s Opening Day debut, pulled in 1.966 million viewers, up eight percent over last year.

Philadelphia’s Gabe Kapler continues to struggle as a rookie manager. On Tuesday night, the Phils failed to turn a double play in the 6th inning because they were in a shift. It led to two runs and a 2-0 loss.

The Dodgers are off to a tough start this season, too. Patrick Corbin struck out 12 batters last night as the Diamondbacks finished off a three-game sweep of Los Angeles. Matt Kemp had the only hot of the game for the Dodgers.

April 4, 1968, was a monumental and sad day in American history. For baseball, it would prove to be an embarrassing moment for the game’s weak-kneed and profit-obsessed leadership.

Twitter’s new hashtag-triggered emojis for all 30 teams will help all those die-hard baseball fans complete their sentences. Cubs fans can use #EverybodyIn to trigger the team’s logo.

Speaking of social media, The Baltimore Orioles posted the highest growth on Facebook among Major League Baseball teams during spring training, while the Cleveland Indians tallied the most growth on Twitter and the Philadelphia Phillies did so on Instagram, according to new data from social marketing firm Unmetric. The Cubs tallied the most likes on Facebook, while the Yankees led Twitter and the Dodgers led Instagram.

Hot Takes & Syrup

  • Rejecting baseball tradition, the Rays plan to regularly use relievers on short notice instead of using a number four starter. They’ll list the starter as TBD in advance of game day, where starters will be announced base on previous bullpen use.
  • Cardinals OF Tommy Pham was frustrated by what he considered player politics and almost quit the game last season when Randal Grichuk was recalled from the minors instead of Pham. “You can’t bitch about it, because if you bitch about it, you f—- up the team,” Pham said. “But I put up an .824 OPS and a 1.4 WAR in 150 at bats. Times that by four—if anybody did that their rookie year, baseball goes crazy over them. But when I did it, they say, ‘Oh, he’s just the backup.'”

Wednesday’s Three Stars

  1. Patrick Corbin – The veteran lefty pitched 7 1/3 innings of one-hit ball in last night’s 3-0 win over the Dodgares. Corbin is 2-0 on the season.
  2. Carlos Martinez – The Cardinals’ ace struck out 10 Milwaukee batters over 8 1/3 innings in last night’s 6-0 win over the Brewers. Martinez allowed only four hits.
  3. Mike Foltynewicz – The Braves young hurler out-dueled Max Scherzer in the Btraves’ 7-1 victory over the Nationals. Foltynewicz allowed four hits, one run and two walks with eight strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.

They Said It

  • “There were a lot of inaccurate narratives from the defensive side, that I was just a hitter and didn’t have a position when I was actually playing all positions. I was a little bit unfortunate in my college career to have a coach (former Cincinnati coach Ty Neal) who didn’t think I could play the infield, which hurt me, a coach that moved me to right field my junior year. That was tough.” – Ian Happ
  • “You can’t contrive (rivalries). … They either exist or don’t exist. … You cannot force rivalry. So I love it. It’s good for the game. It’s good for the communities, the proximity. All that stuff is kind of neat. Intensity-wise, Milwaukee has ascended to that level that already has existed between us and St. Louis. Before this season plays out, this division is going to be very difficult.” – Joe Maddon

Thursday Walk Up Song

Marquee Moon by Television. One of the finest songs ever is a perfect way to start your Thursday.

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