“I was open to pain and crossed by the rain and I walked on a crooked crutch. I strolled all alone through a fallout zone and came out with my soul untouched.” – Bruce Springsteen, Growing Up
Sometimes when everything goes right, the Cubs’ youth movement can be pretty awe-inspiring, and last night’s 15-7 win over the Reds was one of those nights. Chicago collected 23 hits off of five Cincinnati pitchers, including 14 by first or second-year players. Patrick Wisdom led the charge with two home runs, including a grand slam and six RBI, and Christopher Morel enjoyed the first five-hit night of his career.
Morel has had an epic resurgence since manager David Ross dropped him to ninth in the batting order. The rookie outfielder is 7-for-9 with a double, two homers, and four RBI since moving out of the leadoff spot on Wednesday.
The Cubs won for the third time in four games and took the series from their NL Central rivals. That’s a nice way to pre-game for an extended holiday weekend as the Red Sox visit Wrigley Field next for what will surely be an exciting series.
I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself though, so let’s re-focus on last night’s win for a minute.
- Morel was 5-for-5 with a homer, three runs scored, and two RBI.
- Rookie Narciso Crook, a former Reds draft pick, had two hits and an RBI.
- Nelson Velázquez hit a two-run double in the 8th inning.
- Catcher P.J. Higgins was 3-for-6 with a home run and two RBI.
- Wisdom had three hits and a stolen base to go along with his two taters and six ribeyes. Don’t forget, he exceeded his rookie limits last season despite being 30 years old.
- Nico Hoerner – who is in his third year but has played just 173 big league games, was 3-for-6, all singles.
Granted, the competition wasn’t very tough, but anytime you get 23 knocks, plate 15 runners, and relentlessly demoralize your opponent, it’s a very good thing. It almost makes one giddy for the future. As Roger Daltrey would say, “The kids are alright.”
That said, young teams tend to hit the highest of highs and lowest of lows multiple times as their trajectories start to develop. As much fun as last night’s game was, there will be others when the core of young players will frustrate the hell out of us. We’ve seen it a few times this season already. For every laughable win against perennial bottom-feeders Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, there are still too many embarrassing losses.
I guess the point is to enjoy games like last night, forget about the lacking competitive spirit of the opponent, and dream about better things to come next year and, at minimum, the 4-5 seasons thereafter. The tease is nice, but getting back to playing dominant baseball will be much more satisfying.
Cubs News & Notes
- Was last night’s win a foreshadowing of what’s to come? It’s tough to argue against the evidence, and it was nice to see smiles abound in Chicago’s dugout.
- Kyle Hendricks got the win last night and he’s really heating up as the trade deadline approaches, which is somewhat of a double-edged sword for Cubs fans.
- Seiya Suzuki had a big game for the Iowa Cubs in his first rehab outing.
- Jason Heyward was placed on the 10-day IL and Michael Hermosillo was moved to the 60-day to open a spot for Crook.
- Crook, a 27-year-old-rookie, is the 48th player the Cubs have used this season.
- Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago said it’s time for Jed Hoyer to open extension talks with catcher Willson Contreras.
- Braves catcher William Contreras is a finalist for the DH position in this year’s All-Star Game and if he is elected, brother Willson would be “speechless.”
- Contreras anticipates a massive shift in the catching position if MLB introduces an automated strike zone.
- Patrick Mooney of The Athletic has a nice write-up on Morel this morning. The rookie has gone from being “a deer in the headlights” ($) to the team’s main attraction in a few short years.
- Wisdom is making a strong case for his potential inclusion in this year’s Home Run Derby.
- Ryan Jensen has made some mechanical adjustments and our own Greg Huss breaks down what that means to the prospect’s future.
- David Bote left last night’s game with shoulder soreness.
- Former Cub Rich Hill, a 2002 4th-round draft choice by the Cubs, will take the bump for the Red Sox in today’s series opener.
- Jonathan Mayo dropped yet another mock draft yesterday and this time he has the Cubs selecting Termarr Johnson.
- Putting two and two together: The Padres are trying to thread the needle of acquiring players at this year’s deadline while reducing payroll. Expect the Eric Hosmer trade rumors to resurface in Chicago. Other candidates San Diego could deal include Wil Myers (please no) and Blake Snell (God no). Mike Clevinger is someone to keep an eye on, too.
Odds & Sods
A four-base error gave Cubs prospect Ezequiel Pagan the equivalent of an inside-the-park homer on a ground ball that was initially fielded by the catcher.
A ball hit ~maybe~ three feet results in a four-base error.
— Sam Weiderhaft (@sam_weiderhaft) July 1, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“Gotta give us what we want; gotta give us what we need.” – Public Enemy, Fight the Power
Morel, Crook, Higgins, Hoerner, Wisdom, and Velázquez combined to go 17-for-27 (.630) with three doubles, four home runs, and 13 RBI. The sextet scored 10 of Chicago’s 15 runs, and the Cubs were 7-for-19 overall with runners in scoring position, a statistic which they desperately needed to show improvement. Thanks to last night’s output, the team batting average jumped nearly five points.
- Games Played: 76
- Total Plate Appearances: 2,915
- Total Strikeouts: 660
- Strikeout Rate: 22.64%
- Team Batting Average: .250
- Runs Scored: 336
- Runs Allowed: 402
How About That!
Since 1996, the first full season with at least one Wild Card, 100 of 150 eventual division champions held at least a share of that division lead entering July 1
Thursday’s Three Stars
Full disclosure: I’m not even looking at another box score because this hasn’t happened since the Cubs’ golden era at the end of last decade.
Wisdom with a positively beastly blast!
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 1, 2022
Friday Morning Six-Pack
- The Fed will force the country into a recession to cool inflation, but Wells Fargo CEO Charles Scharf doesn’t think we’re prepared for that brand of jelly.
- After changing the course of the country’s future, SCOTUS decided it was time for a summer vacay.
- Did you stay up and watch Stranger Things 4 Volume 2? Spotify’s algorithm will reveal which song will save you from Vecna. Mine was “Memo from Turner” by Mick Jagger.
- Netflix conveniently launched Volume 2 of the iconic series on July 1 to worm an extra month from subscribers. Investors believe more than 2 million viewers will jump ship in August though.
- If you don’t want to watch the last two episodes (and nearly four hours of content) of ST4, spoilers already abound this morning. Don’t spoil it for the rest of us.
- US lawmakers say that crypto has a ‘tech bro’ problem that is stifling its innovation.
They Said It
- “It’s not just about me.“It’s about the team. I try to come in with a positive attitude. It doesn’t matter if I’m doing well or I’m not doing that well. It’s just about having that attitude, that effort, rub off on the other players. In turn, I might not have a good game at the plate, but I might have a good game helping others and inspiring the team.” – Morel
- “[Crook] hit that ball so hard, runs through the bag and you saw him like skipping. He was so excited after getting out. It was one of those, get that adrenaline, get that first one out of the way. That’s a long time coming for anybody that gets to debut at this level.” – Ross
Friday Walk-Up Song
What else after last night’s romp? I really miss old Def Jam hip hop and R&B, though this song became a little too oversaturated due to its inclusion at every wedding of the last 40 years.