The Rundown: Better Late Than Never, Hendricks Offers Some Shake-n-Bake, Cubs Rolling Like Thunder

It’s a random observations day for The Rundown and I am hoping I get this done before the start of tonight’s game:

  • The details regarding the leave of absence by Cubs super utility man Ben Zobrist have begun to leak and I have to admit, it is not something I feel should be public record. It’s a shame that it has been reported here and elsewhere, though I suppose there is a legitimate responsibility (read: obligation) to provide those details by blogs, podcasts, local outlets and national publications. It doesn’t make me feel any better, especially when sites like TMZ are click-baiting it to death, but the Cubs front office is handling it superbly. That actually shocks me, given the way they’ve managed and contained all of the non-baseball happenings over the past year. Even Joe Maddon is saying all the right things.
  • The old man had a favorite phrase when he wanted to be all tough and such, and it went something like “I’ve got one fist of iron, the other of steel. If the right one don’t get you, the left one will.” That comes from the Tennessee Ernie Ford classic “Sixteen Tons” but what an apt description of dual threat Kyle Hendricks in last night’s 3-1 win over the Reds. Not only did he pitch eight innings of magnificent seven-strikeout baseball, but he provided all the offense the Cubs needed with a two-run double in the 2nd inning. He finished 3-for-4 on the night, better than anybody else in the lineup.
  • Hendricks is having a boatload of fun with a more aggressive mindset, and it really shows when you dissect his last three outings. Our own Evan Altman sums it up succinctly with the following paragraph I am borrowing from one of his recent posts: “As he walked off the mound after failing to record an out in the 9th inning of Tuesday’s win, Hendricks dropped a pair of what my rudimentary lip-reading skills discerned as F-bombs. What’s remarkable isn’t that he was a bit cheesed, but that the two fudge pops equaled the combined number of runs and walks he’d allowed over his last 25 innings of work.”
  • And we don’t charge for access to this site? I wish I had the thought-to-fingertip capabilities that Evan has. Is there a blog site Pulitzer? Maybe we need to create one and call it The Altman.
  • Maddon believes the Cubs will be rewarded for their patience with pitcher Yu Darvish. “He’s too good,” Maddon said. “There will be that mental epiphany, or whatever you want to call it. It’s going to happen. I know he’s going to take off, then you’ll see that incredible run he’s going to be on.”
  • Victor Caratini has had a remarkable recovery from his injury. He’s not only 100 percent now and back on the field with Triple-A Iowa, but could be back in Chicago soon playing for the Cubs — just ahead of the 4-6 weeks Cubs officials suggested he’d miss when he was hurt April 12.
  • Karl Ravech of ESPN really stirred the pot on Sunday when he captiously suggested that the Cubs front office was indicating, at least privately, that they preferred Addison Russell be the team’s everyday shortstop. That was shot down pretty quickly across the entire organization. Javy Báez will be the starting shortstop, period. The loyalty to Báez by the organization could and should go a long way toward getting El Mago signed to a contract extension, hopefully sooner rather than later.
  • The Cubs are 20-5 since April 15th and all of the sudden “they are who we thought they are.” Yes, they’re rolling thunder.
  • Kris Bryant has now reached base safely in 23 straight games. The run gives him the longest active streak in the majors and the longest by a Cub since Zobrist reached safely in 25 consecutive games in 2017.
  • Closer Brandon Morrow (right elbow) could resume a throwing program in Arizona within a week. Reliever Tony Barnette (right shoulder) was scheduled to pitch one inning today in extended spring training, where infield prospect Nico Hoerner (left hand) will start a hitting program.
  • Albert Almora Jr. is good at baseball.

How About That!

Chris Sale is VERY GOOD at baseball.

Dodgers’ pitcher Julio Urias is in trouble in a way that Cubs fans are all too familiar with, and the Los Angeles front office has placed him on seven-day administrative leave while they gather evidence and investigate allegations of domestic violence.

The Rays have re-defined the “opener” for the second consecutive season. Tampa Bay leadoff hitters are the best in baseball.

The Marlins are who we thought they would be, and they are on a pace to lose a MLB-record 121 games.

On Deck

Brooklyn councilman Justin Brannan wrote to Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, lobbying for a new policy that would make baseball rain delays more fair to fans.

Tuesday’s Three Stars

  1. Chris Sale – 17 strikeouts in 7 innings is not only incredibly good, it’s an MLB record. I guess we will always wonder if he would have broken the record for most strikeouts in a nine-inning game had he been allowed to finish.
  2. Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. – The rookie phenom hit is first major league home run, then added a second tater later on as the Blue Jays 7-3 win over the Pirates.
  3. Kyle Hendricks – “Shake-n-Bake” was a one-man wrecking crew in last night’s win over the Reds.

Extra Innings

Calls for an automated strike zone have grown louder in recent years. The new Hawk-Eye system could be accurate to within a centimeter, perhaps a few millimeters, and should carry those pleas to an annoyingly excruciating decibel. Do we need robo-umps and is something like that on the horizon? ESPN’s Jeff Passan offers his opinion.

They Said It

  • “Our intention is to do exactly what you’re seeing right now [with Baez], to leave it like this. I like what it looks like right now. The vibe could not be topped. The feeling among the group is outstanding. I would not want to upset that apple cart in any way, shape or form. I don’t think it’s wise.” – Joe Maddon
  • “Javy’s been one of the most dynamic players in the league and playing a great shortstop and been really consistent. As we talked about a week or two ago, it makes sense to give him some reliability knowing he’s going to be in the lineup every day and he’s going to be playing shortstop.” – Theo Epstein
  • “You’ve just got to pitch to [Hendricks]. That slider I didn’t execute well that he hit for a double and scored the runs. Other than that. I could do the same thing when I’m hitting. I’ve got to execute my pitches better and not say it’s a pitcher up there and just get it over.” – Tanner Roark
  • “I don’t think there’s any pitcher on the planet … you’ve got 17 punchouts, you definitely want to go out for [another] inning. I’d love to have gone back out there, but I respect [Alex Cora] as much as anybody on the planet and I’ll never question anything he does, even in regard to that.” – Chris Sale

Wednesday Walk Up Song

Respect by Aretha Franklin. A lot of people don’t know that Otis Redding is the original performer of this soul smash. If you are one of those, now you know better. By the way, 20 wins in the last 25 games means the Cubs are getting a little respect from everybody!

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