The Rundown: Phils Drub Cubs, Rude Homecoming for Hamels, Cardinals Grab Share of First

I really want to believe that a loss is just a loss no matter the score, but last night’s 11-1 drubbing was the third time this week that the Cubs had their asses handed to them. Of course, yesterday’s poor effort is amplified because it was just another in a repeating effort that has seen the team drop about 16 of every 25 road games. Forget about traveling with the home whites. The Cubs may as well play in their pajamas for the rest of this road trip because they look like they’ve been sleepwalking.

If anything epitomizes the current state of affairs for this team it has to be the third inning of yesterday’s game. Cole Hamels, who looked like he had no business pitching yesterday, gave up a run on three hits on the first three pitches to start the inning before the floodgates opened. By the time the inning ended, Hamels had hit the showers, the Cubs were down 10-0, and the Philadelphia crowd was actually cheering 82-year-old hitting coach Charlie Manuel. Meanwhile, every time the cameras panned on Joe Maddon he looked lost and confounded.

We certainly can’t expect Maddon to have any answers right now because I don’t think anybody can figure out the level of atrociousness Chicago exhibits once they climb into their dress grays. What is the answer? Maybe Maddon should consider hiring Billy Williams as his hitting coach. Sure he’s 81, but Manuel is 82 and the Mets new pitching coach, Phil Regan, is 82 as well. Maybe hiring octogenarians is the game’s newest trend, analytics be damned.

If anything, the Cubs seem to lack leadership. Whether that’s on Maddon, or veteran players like Anthony Rizzo or Kris Bryant, somebody needs to step up. I suppose it’s pretty tough to look in the mirror when you are playing this poorly, so asking an individual to look into the eyes of his teammates and rally his troops borders on being hypocritical. As far as I can see, the only Cubs’ players that have carried their weight this road trip have been Bryant and Rowan Wick.

There is some hope for salvation. The Cubs will send Yu Darvish to face Drew Smyly in the series finale this evening, and then they get three games with the Pirates starting tomorrow. If they win those four games, Chicago could come home with a 6-4 record. The last time the Cubs had a winning road trip was April 26 – May 1, when they took two of three from the Diamondbacks in Arizona before heading to Seattle to sweep a two game set against the Mariners.

Cubs News & Notes

  • Add Jason Heyward to the growing list of injured Cubs. The right fielder was a late scratch due to knee soreness. Heyward doesn’t think he will need a stint on the 10-day IL.
  • Rizzo seems to be fine after some earlier back issues, but his power numbers have practically disappeared. Despite the lack of home runs, he’s hitting the ball as well as he ever has.
  • Bryant hit a home run last night, accounting for the team’s only run, and continues to be one of Chicago’s lone clutch performers.
  • Hamels has allowed 12 runs on 17 hits in five innings covering his last two starts, and he admitted he got away with a few mistakes when he pitched five scoreless innings against the Brewers in his return August 3.
  • Hamels made his first return to Philadelphia in four years. It wasn’t the stellar homecoming he had hoped for.
  • With their loss last night, the Cubs are now 23-37 (.383) on the road. That’s the worst of any team still fighting for a playoff spot and better than just seven teams in all of MLB. Over a full season that projects to a 62-100 record.
  • The Cubs played so poorly yesterday that Cubs Twitter was eerily silent. The post I referenced above represents their lone output of the evening.
  • The Cardinals have made up four games in the standings this week and after last night’s win St. Louis has tied the Cubs for first place in the NL Central.

How About That!

The Orioles wrapped up their season series with the Yankees yesterday afternoon with another loss to the Bronx Bombers, their 16th straight loss in the series. New York outscored the O’s 151-83 this year and their 61 homers in the 19 games between the two are the most home runs any team has hit against any other team in a single season in baseball history. Baltimore was officially eliminated from AL East contention with the loss, and finished 2-17 against the Yankees.

Rafael Devers had hits in eight straight at-bats before grounding out to Indians starter Shane Bieber in the fifth inning of yesterday’s game.

The White Sox beat the Astros 13-9 yesterday and took two of three from Houston in their series at Guaranteed Rate Field. Catcher James McCann broke a 9-9 tie with an eighth inning grand slam.

Aristides Aquino went yard again yesterday, his ninth homer in the first 14 games of his major league career. That’s a new record.

The Padres beat the Rays for the first time since 2010. I think the Padres are slightly overrated and further from a championship-caliber team than many others think. Then again, I’m still swallowing that bitter pill from 1984. “Ground ball hit to [Leon] Durham…RIGHT THROUGH HIS LEGS!!!” I need a drink.

Another Dodgers rookie had a two-homer game yesterday, which seems to be a legitimate trend in Los Angeles. This time it was Edwin Ríos.

Ríos made such an impact that Clayton Kershaw fanning eight of the first nine batters he faced seemed nearly forgettable. The Dodgers are good.


Wednesday’s Three Stars

  1. Clayton Kershaw – See graphic above.
  2. Gary Sanchez – The Yankees catcher was 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBI in New York’s win over the Orioles. The home run was Sanchez’s 26th of the season and also his 10th against Baltimore in 2019. Sanchez and Gleyber Torres are only the second set of teammates with 10-plus home runs against one team in baseball history. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig each hit 11 taters against the Red Sox in 1927.
  3. Trent Grisham – The Milwaukee rookie had a 2-for-4 night that included a game winning, three-run jack as the Brewers nipped the Twins 6-5

Extra Innings

Tony Kemp was victimized by another outrageous called third strike last night. It wasn’t as bad as Tuesday’s farcical call, but it was close. Based on historical stats, the pitch that ran Kemp in the ninth inning Tuesday night had a zero percent chance of being called a strike. I guess it was historical then. Whatevs.

They Said It

  • I’d like to see the swarming offense that also can hit for power. That’s what I like. I like for us to be able to move balls behind runners and score runs with singles and accept walks at the same time. I want it all, and I think our hitters are capable of that. It’s almost September. We’ve shown indicators of that. But I’d like to see it on a more consistent basis.” – Joe Maddon
  • “Things don’t feel right. It’s getting back to the right type of extension and release point, and everything will follow. There’s timing. When you get into a loaded position, you have to have the right timing so your hands can come out of your glove and you can stay behind the ball. I have a lot of moving parts that are a little bit behind what I’m accustomed to. And it adds up by the time the ball gets to the plate. There’s a big difference.” – Cole Hamels

Thursday Walk Up Song

Long Time by Boston. The Cubs are now 0-10-2 in their last 14 road series. Their last series victory outside of Wrigley Field was in May 17-19 against the Nationals, when Ben Zobrist was still on the roster. BenZo can’t get here soon enough.

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