The Rundown: Cubs Waste Opportunity to Sweep, El Mago on Torrid Pace, Russell Not Promised Anything, La Stella Power Surge Continues
Woulda, coulda, and shoulda are the constituent parts of an expression you may hurriedly annunciate when realizing that you didn’t do something you mighta done. Pardon my South Side-ese. As Harry Caray might have said “Oh what mighta been!”
The Cubs could have won yesterday had they been able to capitalize on a number of missed scoring opportunities. Instead, much like they did in many series last year, they settled for two of three from the Dodgers against a pitcher that they should have beat, but one who always seems to give them fits. Ross Stripling has held the Cubs to a .245 OBP in games he has pitched at Wrigley Field in his career. He didn’t get the win yesterday, but he was able to keep the Cubs off the board before being removed with two outs in the 5th inning.
It was really the Los Angeles bullpen that held the Cubs in check, however. Dodgers relievers held the North Siders to two hits across 4+ innings, one of them a home run that Kenley Jansen gave up to Albert Almora Jr. in the bottom of the 9th that made the game interesting for just a hot minute. The Dodgers prevailed, winning 2-1 while avoiding the sweep.
A win would have given Chicago a 5-1 homestand while leaving them a game and a half behind the Cardinals for the division lead. They’ll head to Arizona to play the Diamondbacks, who have won eight of 10, with both losses coming to the Cubs earlier this week. Oh, what might have been.
At least I didn’t say might of, which is downright cringe-worthy.
Cubs News & Notes
- Javier Báez has multiple hits in seven of his last 10 games and leads all NL batters with 15 two-out RBI.
Good morning.@javy23baez leads all NL hitters with 15 two-out RBI. #EverybodyIn pic.twitter.com/gXSBbS42r7
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 25, 2019
- The Dodgers spoiled the return of Jon Lester. The veteran ace allowed one run on four hits in five innings after returning from a 16-day absence.
- Theo Epstein praised the resiliency of the pitching staff and continues to show faith in the team’s bullpen, as well as their backup charges at Iowa.
- Epstein believes that Brandon Morrow will pitch again this season. I have my doubts.
- The Diamondbacks are on an 8-2 run after sweeping the Pirates in a four-game set to start the week.
- Jason Heyward may finally be fulfilling his destiny. The right fielder is on pace to hit 37 homers and drive in 103 runs after totaling just 26 homers and 165 RBI in his first three years in a Cubs uniform.
- Heyward is hitting home runs against elevated pitches at an incredibly high rate.
- Epstein said the team will go “day-to-day” and wait to make a determination on suspended shortstop Addison Russell until after he plays his seven rehab games in the minors.
- Joe Maddon said the team has yet to discuss if, when, and where Russell will play once he returns to the major league roster.
- Russell was 1-for-4 with a walk, an RBI, and a stolen base in his first game for Iowa on Wednesday. He followed that up with a two-run double in yesterday’s game. Russell started at shortstop in both games.
- Prior to his suspension, Russell was always atop the team’s shortstop depth chart. There was some doubt along the way, but ultimately, it was Russell ahead of Báez with El Mago moving around the infield as a utility guy. But things are different now.
- Russell said he is just focusing on being a better person.
- Crain’s Chicago Business reporter Danny Ecker moderated a discussion with Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney and Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg on the relationship between playing a successful game and running a successful business. Much of the conversation focused on the $760 million renovation of Wrigley Field.
How About That!
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. makes his MLB debut tonight against the Athletics. The rookie is being over-hyped (if that’s possible) by MLB Network, perhaps because they were fighting the NFL Network for ratings yesterday, the first day of the 2019 Draft. Sean Casey proudly declared that Junior will win the AL MVP award this season.
Kyler Murray became the first athlete to be selected in the first rounds of both the NFL and MLB drafts. The Arizona Cardinals took Murray first overall yesterday evening.
Mariners starter Marco Gonzalez became the first pitcher to get to five wins.
The Brewers will look to end a four-game skid in their game against the Mets tonight.
Mets reliever Jacob Rhame was suspended for two games for twice throwing near the head of Phillies’ slugger Rhys Hoskins.
After getting an infield hit to start last night’s game, Mariners outfielder Shin-Soo Choo has reached base as the leadoff hitter 14 times in 19 starts this year for a .737 situational on-base percentage.
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Zack Greinke – The right-hander got his fourth win of the season by shutting out the Pirates over seven innings yesterday. He had seven strikeouts and allowed just two hits. He also hit a triple, the first of his career. For the season, Greinke is slashing a very robust .462/.500/1.231.
- Tommy La Stella – The slugging utility player jacked his seventh tater of the season as the Angels beat the Yankees 11-5. In one at-bat, New York actually pitched around 3 AM to get to shortstop David Fletcher. La Stella had never hit more than five homers in a season.
- Gerrit Cole – Despite taking a loss, the Astros starter was magnificent against the Indians yesterday. Cole struck out 10 Cleveland batters in seven innings but was victimized by two solo home runs, which was all the offense the Tribe needed in their 2-1 win.
Not a Star: Rangers starter Taylor Hearn threw 39 pitches, 21 of them balls, and retired only one of eight batters he faced in his MLB debut. He starts his career with an ERA of 108.00.
I see it but I still can’t believe it.
Tommy La Stella leads the team in home runs.
Not a typo. pic.twitter.com/VIGJ3TE4xn
— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) April 26, 2019
They Said It
- “It’s unfortunate we couldn’t get [Lester] runs, but it’s good for us he’s healthy. We had some chances, but it’s the way the game goes. You’ve got to take advantage when you have opportunities, especially when you play teams like the Dodgers.” – Anthony Rizzo
- “We’re taking this day-to-day. This is one situation where it is not appropriate to get ahead of the story. Addison has a lot of work to do going forward. There is no finish line here.” – Theo Epstein
- “Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But I really have been putting up some great work on trying to become a better person. People don’t get it right the first time. But I’m just excited to get a second chance.” – Addison Russell
- “Everything seemed to match up [against Pittsburgh]. You are always looking for those spots and those moments. We hit the ball well and pitched the ball well. We’ll enjoy it for about 30 seconds. We have to turn the page quickly.” – Torey Lovullo
Friday Walk Up Song
The Planetarium Scene by The Ocean Blue. The Cubs head west for games against the Diamondbacks and Mariners. “Without a trace we will leave, a new face we will see, a warm embrace we will receive.” Sounds like a great toast to me. Cheers.