The Rundown: Cubs Still Flat and Struggling Vs. Left-Handers, Seeking Series and Homestand Split, Time for Full Protective Netting

I’m kind of sick of saying to myself, “Well, at least the Brewers lost.” I find no consolation in losing and I am starting to think that maybe PECOTA was accurate in its projections for this year. The Cubs are playing like a sub-.500 team and the NL Central is almost as compact as forecast. I find myself envious of the Twins, Dodgers, Astros and Yankees, all teams with at least 50 wins already. The Cubs seem like they will be forever stuck in the 40-45 win range.

Is it possible this team just overachieved in 2016 and that, as fans, we should feel far more lucky than entitled?

It seems the Cubs are incapable of putting together a complete game. If their offense doesn’t fail them, their starting pitching does. Often it’s the bullpen that’s the culprit, though the arrival of Craig Kimbrel will help. Then there are the baserunning mistakes and fielding gaffes. The fact that the Cubs have seven finalists in this year’s All-Star voting is almost awkward. This team is as mystifying as it is frustrating.

Last night’s 5-3 loss sure felt a lot like the home team wished they were doing anything but playing baseball. Some examples include:

  • The 1st inning was a comedy of errors. Ronald Acuña Jr. led off the game with a walk and scored nearly as quickly as if he had homered. He stole second, reached third on a throwing error by Willson Contreras, and took home on a wild pitch.
  • Yu Darvish was leaving pitches up and over the plate. Braves’ batters didn’t miss many of them.
  • Most of the lineup lacked the patience to force Dallas Keuchel to throw strikes. Cubs hitters tried to pull nearly everything and more often than not beat the ball into the ground, resulting in three double plays.
  • The Cubs had no answer for A.J. Minter, who needed just 18 pitches to record four outs, two on strikeouts. He entered the game with a very Brachonian ERA of 7.41 and left with the save.

The Cubs’ overall performance was unsightly, as it has been for most of the last month, and I’m being nice here. They’ve lost four of their last six and 10 of their last 16 games.

So today they’ll try to salvage a split, which would leave them 5-5 on the current home stand and lucky to leave town still in first place. How very PECOTA-ish.

Cubs News & Notes

  • Contreras has been just about the lone bright spot on this homestand.

How About That!

Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu has been scorching hot this week. He’s 13-for-18 with two triples and four home runs. He has also walked five times in that span. That’s a .783 OBP. LeMahieu is a finalist to start at second base for the AL in this year’s All-Star Game in Cleveland.

Giancarlo Stanton is back on the IL, this time with a strained PCL in his right knee. The Yankees OF recently returned from the IL after missing most of the first half of the season.

Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger has been the recipient of on-field hug attacks from enamored teenage girls who have are crushing on the young star. He’d like it to stop.

Many teams are reportedly spilt on Giants’ starter Madison Bumgarner, who will likely be moved at the July 31 trade deadline. Bumgarner, the 2014 World Series MVP, is confident he can regain his vintage postseason form.

The Mets have now lost 8 of 11 and it’s fair to assume that Brodie Von Wagenen has been a megalomaniacal failure. We’re halfway through the season and the team, despite a number of offseason additions, is much worse than they were in 2018.

Mets broadcasters Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez slammed Jason Vargas for his apology, or lack thereof, after he was involved in a heated exchange with a reporter earlier this week.

Wednesday’s Three Stars

  1. Trevor Bauer – The Cleveland starter, who could be moved at this year’s trade deadline, struck out 12 Kansas City batters in 6.1 innings. Bauer improved to 6-6 in the Indians’ 5-3 win over the Royals. He now has 134 punchouts in 119 IP.
  2. David Dahl – The Rockies centerfielder was 2-for-5 and hit a grand slam. He plated five on the day, leading Colorado to a 6-3 win over the Giants.
  3. Shohei Ohtani – The Angels’ hybrid pitcher/DH was 3-for-3, with two singles, a double, a walk and a stolen base, raising his OBP to .354. He also threw 40 pitches in his first work from a pitching mound as he continues to rehab from Tommy John surgery. Ohtani reportedly threw quite well.

Apropos of Nothing

Former Giants outfielder Aubrey Huff on Twitter is like nails on a chalkboard. He makes Curt Schilling look gentle. Proceed at your own risk.

Extra Innings

I wasn’t part of the presidential nominee debate last night but that doesn’t mean I do not have a voice and a point or two I’d like to impress upon voters. Here are the Cliff’s Notes of my campaign platform.

  • Let the kids play.
  • Foul pole-to-foul pole protective netting in every professional ballpark.
  • Universal DH.
  • A lifetime World Series ban for the Dodgers and Yankees.

All kidding aside, a well-struck baseball can travel as fast as 170 feet per second. That’s lethal. Wise up, Mr. Manfred: protective netting all around. As for the Cubs: Why isn’t it in place already?

They Said It

  • “We still have to be more offensive with runners in scoring position. We have to do better overall. We made mistakes on defense, and then we made a couple great plays. I can’t lay it on [Darvish]. You got to win a game 6-5 once in a while.”Joe Maddon
  • “My mom and dad always made it very easy for my brother and I to have fun in all sports, and baseball was no different. We always had a good time, we were always laughing, we were always the team that had the most fun. That’s what being a kid is all about.”Anthony Rizzo
  • “I am trying to play a game so I don’t think I should have to worry about who’s going to come on the field and what not. Although it’s innocent right now, it could be dangerous.”Cody Bellinger

Thursday Walk Up Song

Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival – That was one helluva storm that passed through yesterday, looked like a scene from Ghostbusters. Hopefully a day game today will be a fortuitous change for the North Siders. I’m thinking the 1969 theme was a bad idea for this month. The Cubs have played very September, 1969-ish this month.

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