The Rundown: Cubs Drop Third Straight, Davies Battered Again, Bryant Stays Hot, Harper Quietly Elite, Bumgarner Denied Official No-Hitter
“I’m sittin’ here in this bar tonight
But all I’m thinkin’ is
I’m the same old story, same old act
One step up and two steps back.” – Bruce Springsteen, One Step Back
The Cubs lost 8-7 to the Braves last night as starter Zach Davies was once again shelled, this time in 3.2 innings of taxing mound work. The right-hander has yet to get untracked this season and sports an unsightly 9.47 ERA and a very uncharacteristic 2.21 WHIP after five starts. In defense of the battle-worn 28-year-old, teams are getting a lot of hits on good pitches outside the zone. That said, the biggest culprit may be that his cutter is staying up too often, as Dansby Swanson proved yesterday.
You can say burning sage before the game worked for Dansby Swanson 😅
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) April 27, 2021
Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras continue to lead the team. The third baseman hit a 3rd inning grand slam to tie last night’s game at four and Contreras hit a two-run bomb in the 7th to pull the Cubs within one. The difference in this one was how each team fared with runners in scoring position: Chicago was 2-for-7 and Atlanta was 5-for-12.
After beating the Brewers 15-2 on Friday — their fourth straight win at the time — the Cubs have now lost three straight.
Cubs News & Notes
- Ugly Stat of the Day: Davies has had a rough go of it so far. In 19 innings pitched he’s allowed 20 runs thanks to 27 hits and 15 walks. Of the 100 batters he’s faced this season, 43 have reached base.
- Stating the obvious, Davies indicated that right now he is “in one of the worst stretches” of his career.
- Bryant’s grand slam was the sixth of his career and his sixth home run of the season. He displayed a little rare emotion while rounding the bases.
- Bryzzo – the portmanteau that defines the on-and-off-the-field friendship between KB and Anthony Rizzo – remains as strong as ever.
- Bryant has a few fun suggestions for those who want to see more offense in baseball.
- Nico Hoerner has seen plenty of time since being recalled and has been one of the team’s few bright spots.
- Rookie Trevor Megill impressed in his MLB debut. The reliever struck out Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies with a 98.9 mph four-seamer, which marked the hardest-thrown pitch of the 2021 season for any Cubs pitcher.
- Despite their slow start, Cubs players remain steadfast in focusing on silver linings.
Climbing the Ladder
“Being disappointed is one thing and being discouraged is something else. I am disappointed but I am not discouraged.” – Tennessee Williams
- Games Played: 22
- Total Plate Appearances: 810
- Total Strikeouts: 224
- Strikeout Rate: 27.7%
- Team Batting Average: .211
Apropos of Nothing
Blackhawks legend Andrew Shaw called it a career yesterday, though he never specifically mentioned the word retirement. Since this is not a hockey blog I won’t get into why, but the 29-year-old Ontario native has left the game for good, at least as a player, due to repeated concussions.
Guys who are considered grinders are essential to any team with championship aspirations in any sport. The Cubs have one in Hoerner, who is one of the more fearless two-strike hitters I’ve ever seen.
Odds & Sods
Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner made history on Sunday by throwing a no-hitter that won’t be counted as such thanks to Rob Manfred and his silly seven-inning games.
Madison Bumgarner threw a complete game without allowing a hit against the Braves today.
However, it won't be recognized as a no-hitter since the game was only seven innings as part of a double header. pic.twitter.com/lJaKBXrAUJ
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 25, 2021
How About That!
Should seven-inning no-hitters count as official no-hitters?
Jeff Bridich has stepped down from his position as Rockies general manager.
Padres shortstop Fernando Tatís Jr. has become baseball’s new face of the game.
Corbin Burnes proved he is mortal last night, giving up five runs in his start against the Marlins, though he did register nine strikeouts and still has yet to issue a walk in 29.1 innings pitched this season.
Thanks to a very strong rotation and five wins in six games against the Padres and Cubs, Milwaukee boasts a top-five team in the latest MLB power rankings. The Cubs are No. 17 and it’s hard to imagine where’d they be without Bryant and Contreras.
Baseball’s long-standing antitrust exemption, which is being challenged by three Republican congressmen, still means a great deal to league officials and team owners. Among other things, eliminating the exemption would prevent the league from contracting its minor leagues or licensing statistical data to gambling entities.
Results from a weekend flash poll of Americans shows Major League Baseball’s decision to relocate the All-Star game from Atlanta places the sport at odds with both its fans and itself.
That said, MLB is not as “woke” as some politicians and fans might want you to believe.
Monday’s Three Stars
- Shohei Ohtani – A day after hitting his seventh homer to tie for the MLB lead, Ohtani (1-0) became the first home run leader to be the starting pitcher for a game since Babe Ruth started a game for the Yankees on June 13, 1921.
- Cedric Mullins – The Orioles center fielder hit two long flies and plated three runs as Baltimore tripped the Yankees 4-2.
- Buster Posey – The veteran catcher had a 4-for-5 night that included a home run and three RBI as the Giants blanked the Rockies 12-0.
Bryce Harper has been quietly elite over his last 162 games, and dare I say, underrated? The left-handed slugger is batting .279/.410/.963 in that stretch with 110 runs, 40 bombs, 107 RBI, and 120 walks.
Bryce Harper hit a baseball that hit another baseball in mid air and everything we ever learned about physics is now in question. (🎥 @MLB) pic.twitter.com/VANChHkrj6
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) April 27, 2021
They Said It
- “It really just comes down to execution. It’s just not there. Probably one of the worst stretches of my career. It is early, but at any point, it sucks putting your team down four runs in the first inning.” – Zach Davies
- ‘‘We haven’t gotten the length that we were expecting quite yet out of the starting rotation, but it’s just like everything else in this game. I think we do feel like things will come back around for those guys, and they start to find their groove and be able to go deeper in the games. We’re not at that point yet, but we need to get there.’’ – David Ross
Tuesday Walk Up Song
White Lines (Don’t Do It) by Duran Duran – I really wanted to dislike this Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel remake of the 1983 ode to the dangers of cocaine addiction and drug smuggling, but it quickly grew on me after a minute or so. Though it was released in 2014, yesterday was the first time I’ve heard it. Kudos to Duran Duran for including the original performers. Rang-dang-diggedy-dang-di-dang.