“It’s goodbye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Has a sweep ever felt as satisfying as the one the Cubs completed last night? Victor Caratini was all the offense the North Siders needed as he hit two bombs and drove in all four runs in Chicago’s 4-1 win over the Mets at Citi Field. And he did it against reigning NL Cy Young winner, Jacob deGrom.
The Cubs came to town reeling on the heels of a three-game sweep at home against the Nationals, staring straight down a loaded barrel at New York’s top three pitchers, and won every game. It was the team’s shining road moment of the season.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 30, 2019
Sometimes, you just gotta grip it and rip it and let the big dog something, something, something…
The Cubs did in fact start the rally with two singles, both dribblers by Kris Bryant and Javy Báez, before Caratini shoved them home. Yes, hitters can shove, too, in case you weren’t watching last night. The Cubs No. 2 catcher is hitting .417 with three home runs in his last eight games.
Jon Lester doesn’t have an elite fastball anymore — though his command is plenty stout — and he managed to labor through six gritty innings last night to earn his 11th win. The bullpen locked it down, but Caratini was the hero. He’ll lead the team back to Chicago for a weekend series against the Brewers with the Cubs now trailing the Cardinals by just a game and a half. In the meantime, Chicago left the Mets feeling like Teddy KGB at the end of Rounders.
The Cubs entered last night’s game with a 15-38 record in road night games, so taking three straight is probably traumatizing to Mets fans right now. And coming on the 50-year celebration of New York pantsing the Cubs for the ’69 division title, it feels more than a little satisfying for us veteran fans to see Chicago put a big dent in the Mets’ playoff hopes.
Baseball is a funny game. The Cubs drew the short straw when the Nationals came into Chicago with an offense that was clicking on all cylinders and Washington flushed them straight down the toilet. New York started the second half as baseball’s hottest team, but the Cubs caught them riding a three-game losing streak of their own, and disposed of them in a similarly methodical manner.
I’ll close with more Kerouac, not that I’m suspicious or anything.
“I realized that I had died and been reborn numberless times but just didn’t remember especially because the transitions from life to death and back to life are so ghostly easy, a magical action for naught, like falling asleep and waking up again a million times, the utter casualness and deep ignorance of it.”
What a crazy, unpredictable season.
Cubs News & Notes
- With five straight road wins, matching their longest road winning streak of the season, have the Cubs finally turned the corner? Their upcoming road schedule offers plenty of opportunities to keep rolling. Chicago’s next road game is September 5 at Milwaukee.
- If you had to guess which pitcher Joe Maddon has lined up to start the Brewers series, would you say José Quintana? When does Q not kick off a pivotal series against Milwaukee? I bet you’d be more surprised if I told you Quintana has a 7.08 ERA in four starts against the Brewers this season.
- Caratini became the fourth player to connect twice in a game against deGrom, joining Mitch Garver this year, Giancarlo Stanton in 2016, and Mark Teixeira in 2015.
- Kyle Schwarber has had a huge month and has been one of the team’s better hitters lately. So, naturally he took a seat on the bench last night.
- Nicholas Castellanos is truly the team’s free thinker and a quote machine. He’s also adept at owning his frivolity, helping to keep some of the pennant race pressure off of his teammates.
- One of the biggest flaws for the Cubs’ offense since Ben Zobrist left the team has been an NL-low contact rate and NL-high swinging-strike rate. BenZo can help there and by setting an example in the cage.
- The Cubs also walked a lot more with Zobrist in the lineup. The team really needs someone to provide examples of grind-it-out at-bats.
- Willson Contreras will start a rehab assignment in Iowa today and could return to the Cubs when they travel to Milwaukee next Friday.
How About That!
In the 1st inning of last night’s game against the Marlins, Reds outfielder Aristides Aquino hit his 14th homer of the season — and this month — to set a new National League rookie record. For one night, he was tied with the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger, who belted 13 home runs in June 2017. Rudy York of the Tigers holds the Major League rookie record of 18 in August 1937. Aquino was called up to the Reds on August 1.
I didn’t address Wednesday’s post by ESPN’s Jeff Passan about potential hot stove trades and signings.
If you are looking for a good take on Passan’s editorial regarding just Cubs players, Evan has you covered.
An obscure out-of-play rule helped the Athletics defeat the Royals yesterday.
Speaking of Kansas City, Jorge Soler is the likely choice for the fictional Andre Dawson Award. After belting a mammoth home run last night, the Royals outfielder has 37 taters with 96 RBI on the year. Kansas City is 47-88 and not in last place because the Tigers are on pace to lose 114 games.
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Victor Caratini – The Cubs backstop had a career night against one of the league’s best pitchers, going 3-for-3 with two home runs and plating all four Chicago runs.
- Kevin Newman – The Pirates shortstop was 4-for-4 with two big flies and four RBI as Pittsburgh outlasted the Rockies 11-8.
- Mike Clevinger – The Indians’ new ace improved to 10-2 on the season, blanking the Tigers over eight innings with 10 punchouts. Clevinger scattered four hits and didn’t walk a single batter.
Honorable Mention – Emilio Pagán earned a seven-out 31-pitch save for the Rays yesterday. Ballsy performance.
“Just like a young man coming in for a quickie…I feel so unsatisfied.” – Teddy KGB
Mickey Callaway on the Mets' six consecutive losses, capped by tonight's 4-1 defeat to the Cubs:
"You can always take pride that you’ve worked hard. It's a tough six games, but it’s no more deflating than a normal loss."
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) August 30, 2019
They Said It
- “This exemplifies there’s nothing wrong with us. I don’t know why we’ve had such a difficult time [on the road].” – Joe Maddon
- “The idea of trends and the idea of sustaining whatever — just find a way to win. Who cares how you get it done? Find a way to get it done. No one is going to look back at any games in 2016 where ‘they played sloppy this game and still won.’ No one remembers that. They just remember we found a way to win. That’s what you’ve got to do.” – Jason Heyward
- “When I got traded to the Cubs it was like I was called up to the big leagues. I’m waking up excited to compete every day playing for something.” – Nick Castellanos
- “We are very similar hitters, pretty close to the same swings, too, so I get a lot of information from [Castellano’s] at-bats. And he works a lot of counts. He’s just a really professional hitter, and he’s so underrated, too. He’s definitely making a name for himself here, and we couldn’t be happier.” – Kris Bryant
Friday Walk Up Song
Funk #49 by Joe Walsh with the Eagles, originally by the James Gang. Ron Coomer promotes an odor-eliminating product on Cubs’ radio broadcasts called FunkAway. I can neither confirm nor deny that its ingredients include Mets players’ blood, sweat, and tears. As an aside, Walsh never gets nearly enough credit for making the Eagles as popular as they were.