The Rundown: Schwarber’s Bomb, Edwards’ Filth, Sluething the Mystery of the Sticky Chest Protector

Kyle Schwarber is a bad man.

And just in case you had forgotten about that, he offered a small reminder in Thursday’s rubber game in St. Louis. With the Cubs down 4-2 and two on with one out in the 7th inning, the Cards chose to leave lefty Brett Cecil in to pitch to the lefty-batting left fielder. Because, you know, like-handed pitchers are Schwarber’s kryptonite.

Yeah, about that.

Here’s a two-dimensional look at what happens when a cutter catches a little too much of the plate.

The graphic actually sells Schwarber’s shot a little short, shaving off an extra tenth from what was measured at 112.1 mph. That exit velocity is the second-highest among all of Schwarber’s 22 MLB home runs (including playoffs), and it came against a lefty to boot. Then again, so did his hardest-hit homer, a 112.5 mph blast off of Kevin Siegrist in the 2015 NLDS.

Wait a minute, was that…The Schwarboard? Yes, yes it was. I think this calls for a little side-by-side action, courtesy of Cubs Insider’s Corey Freedman.

Whoa, that’s sexy. Two hits does not a compelling case make, but it’s not a fluke that these two War Bear crush jobs came against southpaws. Even accounting for Mike Matheny’s stubbornness, there’s something to be said for a little regression back to normalcy. And by that I mean Schwarber improving his splits, which were pretty ugly as a rookie.

Though it’s hard to recall a time when he wasn’t invincible, Schwarber looked anything but — actually, he looked exactly like butt — against lefty pitchers in that 2015 season. He slashed .143/.213/.268 with only two home runs when facing lefties, results that came from a mere 61 plate-appearance sample. Only a fool would believe such suppression would last.

Allow yourself to imagine, even if just for a moment, a world in which Schwarber is even just okay against lefty pitchers. This is a guy who has 22 home runs in only 342 total major league plate appearances, good for 15.54 HR/PA. Not impressed? That mark would put him just between Albert Pujols (15.48) and Ken Griffey Jr. (15.56) on the all-time list. Yeah, I’d say that’s good company. It’s also why — and I don’t know why people keep making me say this — THE CUBS AREN’T TRADING HIM.

Whew, that felt good.

While I’m am it, let’s go ahead and stop worrying about War Bear not getting enough at-bats with runners on base, mmkay. He reached in his first plate appearance in each of the Cubs’ first two games and he blasted that mammoth homer with two on, one of whom was Jon Jay batting in the 9th spot. You only really lead off once and Schwarber is an excellent taker of pitches who also happens to be scary af (that’s internet slang).

Carl Edwards Jr.’s stuff is nasty

There are three types of fair: The World’s Fair, the State Fair, and the County Fair. Carl Edwards Jr. is not fair. When he came into the 8th inning of Thursday’s game, the Cubs were up two runs but the Cardinals had men on first and second with only one out. To make matters worse, the Stringbean Slinger had to face the incomparable duo of Randal Grichuk and Jedd Gyorko right out of the gate.

As an aside, did anyone else realize that one of those guys is missing a consonant while the other has too many? It’s like Welington Castillo and Willson Contreras except less likable. Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, the 8th inning.

In short, Edwards gave batters the gas face and no one advanced to 3rd Bass. Get it? If not, you might need to Serch the internet for a bit. Gotta love old hip-hop references that two people will understand. Boy, this is getting off the rails.

The high, stinky cheese Edwards threw to strike Grichuk out was cool and all, certainly a beautiful testament to his league-leading whiff rate from last season. But that’s not what makes him just totally wrong. That came in the next at-bat against Gyorko. I mean, Edwards just straight did this dude dirty.

After seeing his boy Randy go down on fastballs that lit up the radar gun at 94 (looking), 95 (swinging), and 97 (swinging), ol’ Jedd was tuned up and sitting dead red on the heater. So what does Edwards do? Bends a curve up there at around 80 mph. Frozen solid at the plate. Then he dialed it back to 95 for a swinging strike before firing a few more all over the place to run the count full.

And then he did this:

Okay, so I reused my own joke. Whatever, it was worth it. Having the confidence to go back to the backdoor yakker in a full count took serious stones, illustrating again that he’s closer material. If Hector Rondon can keep his you-know-what together, I pity teams that have to face this back end.

Yadi’s sticky situation

Catchers put a little pine tar on their chest protectors to make them tacky and prevent balls from squirting away as easily when them carom off the dirt. This is a widely practiced art and no one really cares. But there’s a wide gulf between that and whatever the hell it was the Cardinals had going on Thursday afternoon.

You know that old trick where you take a balloon and rub it on your hair and it builds up enough static electricity to stick to the wall? Oh, I’m sorry, you still thought that was magic. Anyway, picture that same thing except exchange the balloon for a baseball and the wall with a chest protector. I know, right?

I just realized I’m presupposing your understanding of the context here, which is just terribly gauche. Remember the Schwarbomb from earlier? Well, part of the reason he had two men on is that Matt Szczur whiffed on strike three and the ball bounced “away” from Molina, allowing the batter to reach first safely. But the ball didn’t bounce away.

I’d get it if we were talking some random bit of detritus blowing around and getting stuck that giant strip of flypaper that passes for Yadi’s padding, but c’mon. Even Gorilla Glue doesn’t hold that strong that quick. So what exactly was the viscid substance responsible for

According to a tweet from Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Molina repeated “I don’t know” when asked about the mystery ball. He also said “That’s a dumb question” when asked if he put something on protector. So he’s saying it’s dumb because of course he put something on there, right? Surely it’s not because he’s denying the presence of some glutinous gunk, which would be dumber than dumb.

Cecil, the Cardinals pitcher who threw the ball, had apparently left the clubhouse before he could be questioned about the matter. But because we know you expect the best from Cubs Insider, we managed to get some exclusive footage of the sap-soaked southpaw from later in the evening.

Why is the floor all wet, Yad?

I don’t know, Brett, bro!

Case closed. Or is it?

More news and notes

  • Tim Tebow hit a home run in his first at-bat for the Class A Columbia Fireflies (Mets)

  • Sorry, that pretty much blew the budget for non-Cubs news that people will actually be interested in
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