“Monday, Monday…Can’t trust that day. Monday, Monday, sometimes it just works out that way.” – The Mamas & The Papas, Monday, Monday
It was a bummer of a weekend for Chicago sports fans. The Cubs dropped three of four to the Diamondbacks, the Bears got spanked by the Packers, and both teams exhibited a dire need for offense. Yesterday’s 5-2 win by the Cubs prevented a potentially disastrous sweep while doing little to reassure some fans that postseason baseball is a real possibility. Today feels like a great day to sleep in, but here we are. The cool, rainy weather this morning isn’t making a strong case for something a little more motivational.
Though a 4-3 homestand against two potential playoff teams should feel like a success, I expected more. Those last six games at the end of the season against the Braves and Brewers seem like a gargantuan task right now. The Cubs play nine of their next 12 against the Rockies and Pirates, and a loss in any of those games will be as annoying as a pesky new skin tag. Chicago also needs to exact a little revenge when they go to Arizona this weekend, and multiple losses could make the season-ending series meaningless.
At least the offense showed a little life after being held to four total runs in the first three games of the set. Home runs are nice, but the Cubs are failing when it comes manufacturing runs. David Ross juggled his lineup yesterday, dropping Ian Happ from third in the order to sixth, and bumping Christopher Morel up to leadoff. Happ went 0-for-4, but Morel hit the first of three 3rd-inning bombs to give the North Siders a 2-0 lead. Cody Bellinger and Dansby Swanson followed Morel’s blast with solo shots of their own.
The Cubs desperately needed a win yesterday and they came through with their backs against the wall. Let’s hope Jordan Wicks can improve to 4-0 with a win over the Rockies tonight.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs are calling up outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong for Tuesday night’s game in Colorado, presumably not to mummify on the bench next to Alexander Canario.
- Crow-Armstrong has a slash line of .283/.365/.511 with 20 homers and 82 RBIs at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa this season. He also has three grand slams.
- PCA’s glove makes him one of the game’s best prospects despite some uncertainty surrounding his bat.
- The Cubs still control their postseason fate despite the series loss to the Diamondbacks.
- Yesterday’s lineup changes might be a one-off. Ross is looking for offensive consistency, however.
- Though Happ was held hitless, his stellar defense helped Kyle Hendricks earn his sixth win.
- Marcus Stroman could return this week to help boost the Cubs’ bullpen.
- Mark Grace and Shawon Dunston are officially members of the Cubs Hall of Fame.
- Seiya Suzuki and all of Chicago’s rookies dressed up as Mario Kart characters for the trip to Denver.
- Luke Little has impressed the team with his sweeping slider, but his command is a little off.
- Bill Chuck honors game show host Bob Barker with this week’s Saturday Baseball Quiz.
Odds & Sods
The Nashville Brewers sounds a little odd considering Tennessee is better known as a distillery state.
“Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake.” – W.C. Fields
New poll shows Milwaukee Co. residents oppose tax dollars to pay for Brewers stadium improvements https://t.co/8E4ZfhFgS1
— WISN 12 NEWS (@WISN12News) September 10, 2023
- Milwaukee (79-63): The Yankees were no-hit into the 11th inning, then walked off the Brewers in a wild 13th-inning finish.
- Cincinnati (74-71): Joey Votto has made the unusual shift from meticulous hitting savant to social media star.
- Pittsburgh (66-77): Third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes pleaded with Major League Baseball on Sunday to institute the automated ball-strike system after an obvious missed call and a subsequent conversation with the umpire
- St. Louis (63-80): Angels outfielder Mike Trout will be reportedly available in trade this winter, and the Cardinals could consider pursuing him.
Climbing the Ladder
“All our feelings and thoughts expressed in ones and in oughts.” – Hedwig & The Angry Inch, Random Number Generation
Happy Pythagorean Day if you celebrate! The Cubs are 82-62 if outcomes were dictated by the baseball equivalent of a²+b²=c². That’s a winning season, though expected win totals are neither linear nor progressive.
In case you’re wondering, it’s (runs scored ^ 1.83) / [(runs scored ^ 1.83) + (runs allowed ^ 1.83)] at Baseball-Reference, but should be named after Bill James with an assist to Pythagoras.
Full disclosure: I’ve been waiting for a reason to include the Hedwig video in The Rundown and now I have one.
- Games Played: 144
- Record: 77-67 (.535)
- Total Plate Appearances: 5,500
- Total Strikeouts: 1,224
- Strikeout Rate: 22.82%
- Team Batting Average: .254
- Runs Scored: 725
- Runs Allowed: 627
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 91.9%, 5.4% to win the World Series
How About That!
The Astros are bidding to become the first repeat World Series winner since the 1998-2000 Yankees, but the postseason field will be extremely tough this year.
The Braves clinched their sixth consecutive playoff berth and they’re the first team to qualify for this year’s postseason.
The Giants and Dodgers are the most likely destinations for Trout if the Angels do decide to trade him.
Sunday’s Three Stars
- Pablo Lopez – The Twins starter pitched eight innings of two-hit shutout baseball with 14 strikeouts. That’s my type of hype!
- Marcus Semien – Four hits, two home runs, and two RBI is a nice day at the office for the Rangers second baseman.
- Kyle Tucker – The Astros outfielder was 2-for-3, but he hit two triples (both in the 6th inning), drove in two runs, walked once, and stole two bases.
Losing Bellinger after this season might hurt more than trading Anthony Rizzo in 2021.
Cody Bellinger since coming off the IL:
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) September 11, 2023
Monday Morning Six-Pack
- The Bears were manhandled in a 38-20 loss to the Packers, though the game was much closer in the first half.
- Chicago was outplayed in all aspects of the game and Jordan Love bested Justin Fields, but the playcalling by Luke Getsy was suspect.
- Temperatures in Phoenix topped 110 degrees Fahrenheit for the 54th day this year, a new record, though it’s a “dry heat.”
- You’ll love the game Turntable if you like brainteasers, and you’ll thank me for linking you to it.
- Who remembers what airport security was like before the 9/11 attacks?
- Rosh Hashana begins Friday night. Shanah Tovah!
They Said It
- “I’ve never seen waver from our group at all this season. Sure, it’s easy to hang your head or whatever. I don’t know if it is easy to hang your head for this group, to be honest. That’s probably just a saying that I just spit out of my mouth. I don’t believe that actually as I say it. This group has overcome a lot of adversity, has had a lot of challenges, they’ve had a lot of narratives about them, but all they do is continue to go out and play baseball really hard and put up W’s.” – Ross
Monday Walk-Up Song
Like the Longines Symphonette, it doesn’t rest.