The Rundown: Schwarber Wields Thor’s Hammer, Cubs TV Ratings Down Considerably, Another Setback for Morrow, Sabathia Reaches 3K Mark

It appears that Cole Hamels is a mere mortal when pitching away from Wrigley Field. On the other hand, Kyle Schwarber looked quite Asgardian as he wielded his bat like Thor’s hammer in last night’s 6-5 win over the Mariners. Is there anything more glorious than a 440-foot, game-deciding home run?

I don’t want to dog on Hamels, but he really got away from his strengths last night. Based on what the Seattle announcers said, opposing teams are batting something like .140 against his cutter and .042 against his changeup, but Hamels continued to throw that wretched knuckle curve out of the zone last night even after Mariners’ batters stopped chasing it. I realize that errors by David Bote and Javy Báez in the 4th inning really hurt, but his changeup was really on last night and he should have thrown it more.

Still, the Cubs won, and though I am at the age where West Coast games really interfere with my sleeping habits, I stayed up through that frightening 9th inning before dragging my ass to bed. Did you see that throw to first base by Steve Cishek on the grounder by Domingo Santana? Jon Lester never looked that bad.

Hopefully Lester will lead the team to a two-game sweep tonight and the Cubs can remain hot heading into their weekend series with the division-leading Cardinals at Wrigley Field.

Cubs News & Notes

  • Cishek closed last night because Pedro Strop was unavailable after pitching two innings on Sunday.
  • Through 15 telecasts on NBC Sports Chicago, Cubs local household ratings are down about 14%, from 4.23 in 2018 to 3.63. That doesn’t bode well for an organization hoping to cash in on its new RSN.
  • One viewer opted to pen a goodbye letter to the Cubs rather than support Sinclair Broadcasting and the team’s Marquee Sports Network next season.
  • Kris Bryant was originally slated to start in left field last night but was moved to DH right before game time to accommodate a mildly achy hamstring.
  • Anthony Rizzo looks like he is rebounding nicely from his early-season slump.
  • Theo Epstein remains “hopeful” that Brandon Morrow will return this year. I continue to have my doubts. Morrow had an injection in his ailing elbow that is generally reserved for arthritic knees.
  • Hamels has been throwing more sinkers this year than he has in the previous two seasons.
  • Lester said he felt like a “caged animal” before his last start. In his first start back since being injured in the Cubs’ home opener, Lester pitched well but took the loss in a 2-1 defeat to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday. The veteran lefty allowed one run on four hits in five innings, with no walks and five strikeouts.
  • From David Schoenfield of ESPN (link below): “Yes, that’s Jason Heyward hitting .312/.433/.519 entering the week with five home runs and more walks than strikeouts. For all the crap that Heyward has taken from Cubs fans the past couple of seasons, the start must be extra gratifying. Is it for real? His exit velocity is up and so is his launch angle, so maybe these mechanical tweaks will actually stick.”
  • Despite his uncertain future with the team, Joe Maddon is loving every second of this season so far.
  • Addison Russell will be optioned to Iowa on Friday. He was eligible to return to the Cubs, but Epstein said the polarizing shortstop needs more work on and off the field for now, though it is being framed as a baseball decision.
  • Local baseball scribe Phil Rogers continues to stump on behalf of Russell. Rogers seems horribly misogynistic and completely out of touch every time he mentions Russell’s name.

How About That!

Schoenfield has first month grades for all 30 MLB teams.

Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia reached 3,000 career strikeouts Tuesday night, becoming the 17th major leaguer and third left-hander to achieve the milestone.

Sabathia is the first pitcher to reach that milestone since John Smoltz notched his 3,000th strikeout in 2008.

May 1 is the traditional end to season-opening small sample sizes. Tendencies have developed and teams start to make changes with the hopes of stopping or continuing those trends.

The Twins are one of the early-season feel-good stories in baseball, and they could really solidify their bullpen and their playoff chances by signing free agent closer Craig Kimbrel.

The Nationals have lost eight of their last 11 games.

Tuesday’s Three Stars

  1. CC Sabathia – When you record your 3,000th strikeout, you get to lead this list.
  2. Gerrit Cole – The Astros starter was brilliant last night, striking out 11 Twins over seven innings in a shutout victory.
  3. Franmil Reyes – The 23-year-old Padres outfielder went 3-for-4 with a pair of home runs, a double, three RBI and two runs in the Friars’ 4-3 win over the Braves on Tuesday.

Extra Innings

And then Theo just dropped the mic, turned to his left, and walked away…

They Said It

  • “Being a Black Ace is something I take very seriously, being one of the guys who won 20 games, so being on that list with 3,000 strikeouts, it’s hard to grasp. To think about, it’s cool to be on that list.” – CC Sabathia
  • It’s a long season. [Schwarber] is a big league hitter for a reason. I’m going to get beat sometimes. I’m going to beat them sometimes. It’s part of the game — the give and take. I lost this one. I will help win us the next one.” – Brandon Brennan
  • “Felt fine. Felt normal. It’s very tough, especially when you’re used to pitching every five days. It’s kind of like a caged animal for a couple of days there. Just really didn’t know what to do with myself. It’s a testament to our training staff. They kept pushing me and I kept pushing them. I got back a little bit sooner than I think everybody thought, so [that’s] always good.” – Jon Lester

Wednesday Walk Up Song

What a Wonderful World by Joey Ramone. This month’s theme is going to be “Not by the original artist,” so I’ll start with an incredible cover of this Louis Armstrong classic. This song actually gives me chills every time I hear it, mostly because I played it over and over and over after the Cubs won the World Series in ’16. This is arguably the best cover of any song, ever, though I am obviously biased. Originally released in 1967, Armstrong’s recording was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

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