The Rundown: Yelich Needs Help Facing Darvish, Next Set with Cards Stretching to 6 Games, Betts Goes Big

Gee, it looks as though Christian Yelich and the Brewers weren’t quite up the task of facing Yu Darvish Thursday night at Wrigley. Away from the cozy confines and ideal lighting of Miller Park, the former MVP saw his average dip to .167 after an 0-for-3 night. But hey, at least he didn’t account for any of the 11 strikeouts Darvish posted on the evening.

“He had really good command of his offspeed stuff,” David Ross said. “The breaking ball was working, the slider, the cutter in on those lefties was going in deep. He’d finish with some splitters or some fastballs late. Really kept them off-balance.”

The big righty went seven innings and allowed just one hit, a solo homer to Justin Smoak, further proving Yelich’s claim that “nobody needs help facing you” was the work of a doofus. Darvish was almost too good, spinning junk that home plate umpire Jeremie Rehak didn’t seem to know what to do with. Victor Caratini was also getting a little too obvious with his framing at some points, sweeping pitches too far back into the zone.

Not that it ended up hurting Darvish or the Cubs, who had pushed out to a 4-0 lead by the time the Brewers got on the board. The final tally crossed the plate with two outs in the 9th, but the game never felt like it was in question as the home team extended its division lead to 6.5 games. For what it’s worth, that is the largest lead in baseball and is equal to the largest gap from first to last in any other division.

That lead could well expand further this weekend and could really blow up next week, when the Cubs are scheduled to play two doubleheaders against the Cardinals as a way to make up the games they missed in St. Louis. While just a very strong report as of post time, the logistics are expected to be finalized Friday and may well have the Cards serving as the home team in one half of each twin bill.

The Cards are supposed to be playing the White Sox this weekend and should have a doubleheader Saturday on the South Side. In order to get there safely, they’ll be avoiding flights and other mass transit. That means renting 41 cars, one for each member of the traveling party, to head to Chicago for the week.

It’s a little weird that they’re not just paying mileage or something and keeping players in their own cars, which are presumably much nicer and more comfortable than a fleet of mid-size sedans, right? Or maybe that’s the point, since the last thing they need is a miniature Cannonball Run with a subsequent Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Cubs News & Notes

  • Kris Bryant was scratched from Friday’s lineup out of “an abundance of caution,” but should be back in there today as the series continues.
  • Javy Báez said a bad word when he hit into an inning-ending double play last night. This isn’t news, but it’s part of what you hear when there are no fans.
  • Look, the Cubs have a huge division lead and they’re playing really good baseball. I’m sure I could dig up more notes here, but there’s a lot going on and I’ve got at least two more posts to put together and limited time to write them.

How About That

Mookie Betts clubbed three home runs against the Padres, the sixth time he’s put up a trifecta. That ties him with Johnny Mize and Sammy Sosa for most all-time.

MLB will celebrate and honor the Negro Leagues this Sunday with all players, managers, coaches and umpires wearing a Negro Leagues 100th anniversary logo patch on their uniforms.

The Reds’ Shogo Akiyama flashed the leather in a big way, but it all went for naught as the Pirates jumped out to a big lead and buried Cincy.

Christian Yelich is all the way up to 0.1 fWAR, so he’s no longer the worst player in baseball.

Stephen Strasburg was ejected from Thursday’s Nats/Mets game at Citi Field…as a fan. After expressing his displeasure with some of the calls, the home plate umpire tossed him from the stands.

Odds & Sods

LeBron James has partnered with the Dodgers to turn Dodger Stadium into a polling place for the November election.

They Said It

I’ve been doing it my whole life, so I think I’m just comfortable there. You only lead off once, but I enjoy getting things started. Creating havoc on the basepaths. Trying to score one in the first, I definitely take pride in doing that. It’s just a comfort thing.Mookie Betts on leading off

Learning from [Ross] and being able to come in this year and reinvest in all the guys. Make sure everyone knows that good game or bad game, this 60-game season is about one thing and one thing only: winning. That’s what I’m trying to be every day, that winning attitude; 0-for-5 or couple hits and a homer, popping gold chains, it doesn’t matter. I want to be the same guy every day for the guys in the clubhouse to show that this is just about winning. If you have a good game or bad game, today is the biggest day. Let’s win today. — Anthony Rizzo

Friday Walk Up Song

Up on the Roof by The Drifters – I’ll be on the Wrigley View rooftop for tonight’s game, so we’ll see if climbing all the way up to the top of the stairs allows me to let go of my cares just drift off into space.

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