If I have one criticism of David Ross so far it’s that he tends to let his starters go a little too long. In most cases, lack of precision and the efficacy his relievers is probably justification, but with Jon Lester, who was completely gassed once he hit 80 pitches last night, he seems to trust a little too much in the lefty’s ability to get himself out of jams.
Lester has never been lights-out with runners on base and he can be downright maddening to watch once fatigue starts to set in. After giving up a single to Jacob Stallings and walking Colin Moran, Ross should have removed his starter from the game. Just 13 pitches later, after doubles by Ke’Bryan Hayes and José Osuna sandwiched a single by Adam Frazier, the Pirates had trimmed a 6-1 deficit to 6-4.
A sacrifice fly by Erik Gonzalez while Colin Rea was pitching gave Pittsburgh another run charged to Lester, and what should have been an easy victory became a battle that went into extra innings before the Cubs eked out an 8-7 win. It’s easy to make that call in hindsight, but if Ross had gone to Rea a little earlier the game might never have been that close.
Adding to the urgency is that the Cardinals were bludgeoning the Reds 16-2 and will be coming to town for a five-game set starting Friday.
We love 8-7, extra-inning wins. pic.twitter.com/e4Jm8ovaj1
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) September 2, 2020
The last two Septembers haven’t been kind to the Cubs, so maintaining or improving their lead over St. Louis with the games against Pittsburgh is critical. Then the Cubs have to do everything they can to win that Labor Day weekend series. Right now, the only guarantee seems to be whenever Yu Darvish is pitching. Nail-biters like last night’s game every four of five days do not make for pleasant viewing.
Cubs News & Notes
- Ian Happ hit his 60th career home run last night and now holds the team record for most by a switch hitter. Augie Galan, who played for the Cubs from 1934-40, held the previous record with 59.
- Happ hit leadoff last night even with the return of Kris Bryant to the lineup and continues to be the team’s offensive leader.
- Kyle Schwarber hit another home run last night and Jason Heyward was 2-for-3 with an RBI as Cubs outfielders surge at the plate. Heyward is now hitting .299 on the season.
- Cameron Maybin, José Martínez, and Josh Osich all made their Cubs debuts last night. Maybin stole a base while pinch-running, and Osich gave up an unearned run in the 10th when Hayes scored on a fielder’s choice as the extra innings designated runner (video recap).
- Jim Bowden of The Athletic gave the Cubs a B+ for their deadline moves, particularly because it meant optoning Albert Almora Jr. once the Maybin deal was completed (subscription to The Athletic required).
- Due to cuts to their scouting and player development staffs, some of the Cubs administrative staff will be forced to wear multiple hats for the foreseeable future.
- MLB.com released its midseason farm system rankings, and despite an exciting draft, the Cubs sit near the bottom, 26th overall, down from a preseason ranking of 23.
- In 1998, former Cubs draft pick Ken Krahenbuhl basically traded himself from the Independent League Pacific Suns to the Greeneville Bluesmen by leaving one team and driving 25 hours to play for the other. The two teams had to hurry and make a deal for the deserter, so Greeneville gave the Suns $1,000 and 10 pounds of farm-raised catfish.
- Kyle Hendricks takes the bump for the Cubs tonight with a 1-2 record and 6.61 ERA in three road starts this season. He’ll be opposed by Joe Musgrove, who is still looking for his first win on the season.
Odds & Sods
If you follow me on Twitter, you know I spent the better part of last month curating songs for 120-minute “mix tapes” for a great number of my social media friends. This week we celebrate the birth of the cassette, which really became a listening staple once cars started coming equipped with tape decks in the early 1970’s. What was your first cassette, if you remember? Mine was Terrapin Station by the Grateful Dead, which I bought in 1977.
Today in 1963 – 57 years ago – Philips first introduced the Cassette at the Berlin Radio Show. So, happy birthday to the Cassette, we couldn't have made mixed tapes without you. pic.twitter.com/BkjkwbhHmO
— Eric Alper 🎧 (@ThatEricAlper) September 1, 2020
How About That!
MLB has told its teams that they can hold instructional league workouts/games for their minor leaguers. Teams that do so will be required to pay their players at the normal in-season pay rate (subscription to Baseball America required).
The Orioles are developing their top pitching prospects in a unique way: by letting them pitch in their affiliate camp and in the majors, when needed.
It took Brewers reliever Phil Bickford several years to finally make his major league debut. The former first round pick has weathered a suspension for recreational drug use, a broken right hand, and a dramatic drop in velocity.
Tuesday’s Three Stars
- Alex Dickerson – The Giants pounded out 27 hits while pasting the Rockies 23-5. Dickerson had six of them, with five extra base hits that included three home runs and two doubles. The left fielder scored five times and had six RBI.
- Brad Miller – The Cardinals DH was 4-for-6 with two homers and seven RBI as St. Louis destroyed Cincinnati last night.
- Marcell Ozuna – In Atlanta’s 10-3 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park last night, Ozuna was 3-for-5 with six RBI, all of his hits leaving the yard. The Braves outfielder was the first NL player to hit three home runs at Boston’s iconic ballpark.
Ozuna paid tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman with a Wakanda Forever sign as he rounded third base after his third home run.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) September 2, 2020
They Said It
- “The way [Ian Happ] has attacked the baseball and the quality of the bat continues to stand out to me. It’s always been in the back of my mind whenever he started getting back to who we thought he was and who he thought he was.” – David Ross
- “[Cutting staff] is not something that we can recover from easily. People are going to have to wear multiple hats, and people are going have to pick up the slack from a lot of really good employees that we’re not able to bring back. So it’s going to be different.” – Jed Hoyer
Wednesday Walk Up Song
Pray for Me by The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar – Wakanda Forever! Godspeed Mr. Boseman.