Before I get started, let it be known that the only team I despise more than the Mets is the Cardinals. These days I love it when the Cardinals lose and I find great humor when the Mets actually win. Combine all of that with a Cubs victory and I am one happy man.
We saw a vintage performance from Jon Lester last night. I’m not a fan of that phrase because I’m positive each season brings its highs and lows for any player, so it’s not really an apt description. After three innings last night, Big Bad Jon established dominance over the Pirates by getting six strikeouts his first time through the Pirates order. Let’s call it vintage Lester dominance. Much better.
Ian Happ provided all the offense the Cubs needed in a 1-0 shoutout. Pedro Strop got the save and has really excelled in closing out games. Hopefully the Northsiders’ win represents an opportunity to start a winning streak. With the Brewers being idle, the Cubs’ lead in the Central Division now sits at 3 1/2 games.
This staredown was amazing ? pic.twitter.com/BrIOe6eotu
— Cubs Insider (@realcubsinsider) August 17, 2018
More exciting is the race for best record in the National League. After Thursday night’s games, it looks like this:
- Cubs 70-50 .583
- Braves 68-52 .567
- Phillies 67-54 .554
- Brewers 68-55 .553
- Diamondbacks 67-55 .549
- Cardinals 66-56 .541
- Rockies 65-56 .537
- Dodgers 65-57 .533
Eight teams within 5 1/2 games of each other and only 2 1/2 games separate the wild card contenders. Three of them won’t make the playoffs. The last six weeks of the season should provide plenty of highlights, lowlights, and off-the-charts drama. Buckle up.
Cubs News & Notes
When it comes to pennant races, the Cubs are one of the more experienced teams in the National League since 2015. (Subscription to The Athletic required and recommended).
Right-hander Yu Darvish will begin a rehab assignment Sunday with a minor league team to be determined (though our initial guess was South Bend since they’re home the next two weekends). Optimally the team would like to see Darvish successfully manage three minor league starts before adding him to the big league rotation. If all goes well, that could mean Darvish will make his return right after Labor Day.
Kris Bryant has been hitting off a tee and tracking live pitches in his attempt to return from a left shoulder injury.
Kris Bryant has been hitting off a tee/in the cage and tracking pitches off the machine/while pitchers are throwing bullpens. Next step would be facing live pitching on the field: “There’s plenty of time for myself to get ready for hopefully a long playoff run.”
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) August 16, 2018
Newly acquired outfielder and designated pinch-runner Terrance Gore has been assigned to the Iowa Cubs AAA team with an eye on a September call-up. “That’s what Jed (Chicago general manager Jed Hoyer) told me once he called me,” Gore said. “He was like, ‘You’ll start a couple of times but you’ll mainly do what you do — steal bases.’ And they’ll try to put me in the situations that I need to be in — like the ones where everyone in the stadium knows I’m going to steal.”
Gore wasted no time getting down to business in his first action with his new team. After singling in his first at-bat, the speedster stole second and eventually came home on a double.
How About That!
The Rays beat the Yankees 3-1 behind Blake Snell, who has been ridiculous since mid-May. In his last 14 starts, Snell is 10-2 with a 1.43 ERA and 1.00 WHIP with 96 strikeouts in 81 innings. Not that he was ever bad, mind you. Overall, he’s now 14-5 with a 2.10 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 149 strikeouts in 133 innings.
MLB suspended Jose Ureña six games; Yasiel Puig got a two-game time out for his role in .
Orioles outfielder Adam Jones has cleared revocable waivers, meaning he can theoretically be traded to any team, reports Jon Heyman of Fancred. Keep in mind, Jones vetoed a possible deal to the Phillies in July, has 10-and-5 rights, and has said he doesn’t want to go anywhere.
More from Heyman, including notes on the Cubs, in his Inside Baseball column.
In the first game of their double-header with the Phillies, the Mets played like the kid who gets beat up by the bully everyday because he never fights back, and then one day decides to fight back and kicks the bully’s ass. Yes, the Mets torched Philadelphia in a 24-4 victory in the first game of a day-night affair. New York entered the fifth inning ahead 5-4. The Metropolitans then scored 10 runs in the 5th, two in the 7th, five in the 8th, then another two in the 9th.
This calls for a celebration with the worst theme song in the history of baseball!
The Texas Rangers pulled off a very rare triple play last night – it was the first time in more than 100 years the batter wasn’t retired as part of a triple play. Unfortunately I have no Rangers theme song to share.
You don't see this every day. pic.twitter.com/6MPPS5u5Xo
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) August 17, 2018
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Jose Bautista – a vintage performance (there it is again) from the Mets RF who went 3-for-4 with a grand slam and 7 RBI in the Mets’ game one laugher over the Phillies, and he didn’t even enter the game until the 4th inning.
- Jon Lester – The Cubs ace scattered five hits across six innings wile striking out eight Pirates to earn his 13th victory of 2018.
- Blake Snell – despite being on a pitch count, the Rays starter held the Yankees to two hits and a walk while striking out six over six shutout innings.
They Said It
- “It’s not like I’m going to throw six scoreless every time I step out there. This is a step in the right direction…This is Round 1. We’ll move on to Round 2 when the bell rings.” – Jon Lester
- “The kid [Terrence Gore] can really run. He’s hard to stop on the bases. He can really change things dynamically in a tie game or down by one.” – Iowa Cubs manager Marty Pevey
- “[Lester] is a world-class kind of athlete and they want to be that way all the time. When you get away from it, it’s disturbing and you’re always looking for answers. I know he’ll rest better and this is absolutely a game to build off because he executed well. Everything was there tonight.” – Joe Maddon
On Deck Circle
I’ll be at the Pearl Jam show as an invited guest on Saturday night at Wrigley Field thanks to the band’s wonderful marketing team. If you’d like to meet up for a beer before or after and talk some Cubs baseball, find me on Twitter and hit me up. I am a big fan of Vaughn’s Pub on Sheffield. That’s not a cryptic message indicating I’ll be there with Eddie, Mike, Stone and Jeff. Or is it?
— Pearl Jam (@PearlJam) August 16, 2018
“Unfortunately the immutable laws of physics contradict the whole premise of your account. Allow me to reconstruct this, if I may, for Miss Benes, as I’ve heard this story a number of times.”
“Newman, Kramer, if you’ll indulge me. According to your story Keith passes you and starts walking up the ramp, then you say you were struck on the right temple. The spit then proceeds to ricochet off the temple, striking Newman between the third and fourth rib. The spit then came off the rib, turned and hit Newman in the right wrist, causing him to drop his baseball cap. The spit then splashes off the wrist, pauses — in mid-air, mind you — makes a left turn and lands on Newman’s left thigh.”
Friday Walk Up Song
I Say a Little Prayer by Aretha Franklin. Thank you for the gift of your voice and your music. This song meant so much to Sue and I. Godspeed, Aretha, say hi to Sue for me.