The Rundown: Cubs Keep Pace With Cardinals, Hendricks Rolls, Offense Awakens

Thank God for the Mariners, am I right? Even though the Cubs waited until just about the end of the game to finally touch home plate, it always felt like the outburst was coming. I’ll tell you this, if the North Siders had been shut out again, I’d have gone on yet another rant much like yesterday’s, but this time directed at batting coach Anthony Iapoce.

I’ll save that for another time since order has been somewhat restored for now, and I’d bet the Cubs have a big night tonight against Félix Hernández.

Yesterday’s 5-1 win over Seattle kept most of the dark recesses of Cubs Twitter from resurfacing, though it was touch and go until Kyle Schwarber’s big three-run triple in the bottom of the 7th. The linebacker-sized left fielder really motored to third base, didn’t he?

I love the hustle. Maybe he’ll show up at Wrigley tonight wearing a Respect 270 t-shirt.

The victory allowed the Cubs to keep pace with the Cardinals, who beat the lowly Giants at home yesterday. Chicago will need to keep winning because St. Louis has won 13 of 16 and is in a stretch where they play the Giants and Pirates at home before going to Colorado to play the Rockies. The Redbirds smell Cubbie blue blood, and the Cubs need to stay within striking distance going into games 153-162, when they will play St. Louis seven times.

I don’t normally schedule-watch, but these 2019 Cubs have yet to truly break out in a way in which they’re capable. Maybe they’re saving it for the playoffs, or maybe it’s just not going to happen. I’ll stick to my prediction that they will be baseball’s hottest team during these final four weeks. Losing back-to-back shutouts to the Brewers hasn’t inspired anybody to join me in my vigil.

If you are looking for positives, Cubs starters have only given up five earned runs in their last five games. We can rightfully consider Tyler Chatwood an opener of sorts for his eight-out performance on Sunday — seven of which were by way of Brewer whiffs — but still, stellar efforts all around.

Kyle Hendricks was masterful yesterday, if not absolutely filthy at times. Great pitching is usually the difference-maker in September and it’s good to see the string of great starts going back to Thursday’s 4-1 win over the Mets. Hendricks has been nearly untouchable at home this season.

Jon Lester started that streak and he’ll take the bump against Hernández tonight. Hopefully he’s fully recovered from an otherwise awful August. I expect he’ll provide a quality start as he looks to earn his 189th career win. The 14-year veteran is a career 7-4 with a 3.02 ERA against the Mariners , including 96 strikeouts in 92.1 innings.

King Félix brings a 6.02 ERA into tonight’s game, but he’s still perfectly capable of putting together a dominant start. Look for Nick Castellanos, Anthony Rizzo, and Kris Bryant to star. Hernández has pitched 20 lifetime innings against the Cubs without earning a decision.

Cubs News & Notes

How About That!

The Yankees had gone 220 consecutive games without being shut out until the Rangers blanked them 7-0 yesterday. The streak spanned 429 days.

The Dodgers torched the Rockies 16-9, reducing their magic number in the NL West to six. Los Angeles hit seven home runs in last night’s destruction. The teams combined to throw 349 pitches in a game that featured 10 total taters and took over four hours to complete. Believe it or not, the game was not played at Coors Field.

Gerrit Cole is the first player in Astros history with back-to-back 14-strikeout games, and he and Justin Verlander are the first teammates with 14 strikeouts in back-to-back games since 1893. Cole leads baseball with 264 strikeouts and will be a free agent come November. He could become baseball’s highest-paid pitcher.

Bryce Harper reached the 30-home run mark for the third time in his career as the Phillies kept pace with the Cubs in their fight for a Wild Card spot with a 7-1 win over the Reds.

Miguel Cabrera hit his 475th career homer yesterday. That ties him with Stan Musial and Willie Stargell at 31 on the all-time list.

Aristides Aquino hit another home run yesterday, passing Rhys Hoskins as the fastest ever to hit 15. It was Aquino’s 122nd plate appearance of the season.

Monday’s Three Stars

  1. Gerrit Cole – Pay this man his money. Cole leads the majors in strikeouts and has the AL’s second- best ERA this season.
  2. Noah Syndergaard – Thor rebounded from his awful effort against the Cubs last week to manhandle the Nationals. Syndergaard had 10 punchouts in seven innings without walking a batter. He allowed just three hits and only one runner got as far as second base.
  3. Joc Pederson – The Dodgers outfielder was 3-for-3 with two homers and five RBI before being removed from the game due to an abdominal contusion after making a spectacular catch.

Extra Innings

That curveball by Brad Wieck? I’m mesmerized. That’s got to be frightening stuff coming from a guy who stands 6-foot-9 on the mound.

They Said It

  • “There’s nothing other than the fact that it’s sore [regarding Báez]. So we have to give that today, possibly tomorrow, too. Day-to-day is pretty much where it’s at.There’s nothing new on Darvish right now. I haven’t heard anything really horrible. I’m anticipating good. But I have not heard anything new yet.” – Joe Maddon
  • “I wish everyone on the outside can see the motivation that we have in the clubhouse and dugout, even between innings when we’re not scoring. We believe we’re one hit away every time.” – Kyle Schwarber
  • “When you allow yourself to think about outside noise when you get to the plate, you’re defeated.” – Anthony Rizzo

Tuesday Walk Up Song

Monster by Mumford & Sons. September baseball, right? What a great song, too.

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