The Rundown: Cubs Edge Pirates, Ross Struggles with Bullpen Management, Happ Sets Team Record, Instructs Will Resume This Fall

If I have one criticism of David Ross so far it’s that he tends to let his starters go a little too long. In most cases, lack of precision and the efficacy his relievers is probably justification, but with Jon Lester, who was completely gassed once he hit 80 pitches last night, he seems to trust a little too much in the lefty’s ability to get himself out of jams.

Lester has never been lights-out with runners on base and he can be downright maddening to watch once fatigue starts to set in. After giving up a single to Jacob Stallings and walking Colin Moran, Ross should have removed his starter from the game. Just 13 pitches later, after doubles by Ke’Bryan Hayes and José Osuna sandwiched a single by Adam Frazier, the Pirates had trimmed a 6-1 deficit to 6-4.

A sacrifice fly by Erik Gonzalez while Colin Rea was pitching gave Pittsburgh another run charged to Lester, and what should have been an easy victory became a battle that went into extra innings before the Cubs eked out an 8-7 win. It’s easy to make that call in hindsight, but if Ross had gone to Rea a little earlier the game might never have been that close.

Adding to the urgency is that the Cardinals were bludgeoning the Reds 16-2 and will be coming to town for a five-game set starting Friday.

The last two Septembers haven’t been kind to the Cubs, so maintaining or improving their lead over St. Louis with the games against Pittsburgh is critical. Then the Cubs have to do everything they can to win that Labor Day weekend series. Right now, the only guarantee seems to be whenever Yu Darvish is pitching. Nail-biters like last night’s game every four of five days do not make for pleasant viewing.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I spent the better part of last month curating songs for 120-minute “mix tapes” for a great number of my social media friends. This week we celebrate the birth of the cassette, which really became a listening staple once cars started coming equipped with tape decks in the early 1970’s. What was your first cassette, if you remember? Mine was Terrapin Station by the Grateful Dead, which I bought in 1977.

How About That!

MLB has told its teams that they can hold instructional league workouts/games for their minor leaguers. Teams that do so will be required to pay their players at the normal in-season pay rate (subscription to Baseball America required).

Emotions boiled over in the Rays tilt with the Yankees last night. I pity the batter who steps in against Aroldis Chapman in the midst of a beanball war.

The Orioles are developing their top pitching prospects in a unique way: by letting them pitch in their affiliate camp and in the majors, when needed.

Which player would you rather have if you were starting your own team, Fernando Tatis Jr. or Mike Trout?

Heartbreak Hotel: Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus hit a long tater off of Astros closer Ryan Pressly last night.

It took Brewers reliever Phil Bickford several years to finally make his major league debut. The former first round pick has weathered a suspension for recreational drug use, a broken right hand, and a dramatic drop in velocity.

Tuesday’s Three Stars

  1. Alex Dickerson – The Giants pounded out 27 hits while pasting the Rockies 23-5. Dickerson had six of them, with five extra base hits that included three home runs and two doubles. The left fielder scored five times and had six RBI.
  2. Brad Miller – The Cardinals DH was 4-for-6 with two homers and seven RBI as St. Louis destroyed Cincinnati last night.
  3. Marcell Ozuna – In Atlanta’s 10-3 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park last night, Ozuna was 3-for-5 with six RBI, all of his hits leaving the yard. The Braves outfielder was the first NL player to hit three home runs at Boston’s iconic ballpark.

Extra Innings

Ozuna paid tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman with a Wakanda Forever sign as he rounded third base after his third home run.

They Said It

  • “The way [Ian Happ] has attacked the baseball and the quality of the bat continues to stand out to me. It’s always been in the back of my mind whenever he started getting back to who we thought he was and who he thought he was.” – David Ross
  • “[Cutting staff] is not something that we can recover from easily. People are going to have to wear multiple hats, and people are going have to pick up the slack from a lot of really good employees that we’re not able to bring back. So it’s going to be different.” – Jed Hoyer

Wednesday Walk Up Song

Pray for Me by The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar – Wakanda Forever! Godspeed Mr. Boseman.

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