The Rundown: Cubs Primed for Rare Sweep, Bats Come Alive Agaisnt Bucs, NL Central a Hot Mess, A’s One Step Closer to Vegas

“Blue Moon, you saw me standing alone, without a dream in my heart, without a love of my own.” – The Marcels, Blue Moon

Put another nickel in the jukebox because the pressure is really on David Ross today. Will the Cubs sweep the first-place Pirates or send Pittsburgh packing with whatever’s left of another meatloaf sandwich? Ross and his minions have had a callous time locking down three-game sweeps this season. A lack of killer instinct is what separates very good teams from very average ones. Here’s hoping the Cubs make the Buccos walk the plank today.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

It’s gotta be the hair, Cotton. Michael Arias has flow, my friends.

Central Intelligence

Temperature check Thursday.

  • St. Louis: The Cardinals have lost eight of their last 10 games and are 27-42 (.391). Nolan Arrenado says the team is struggling because its star players are not producing.
  • Milwaukee: The Brewers have lost six straight and are 34-34 (.500). Closer Devin Williams blew the save and gave up two home runs in last night’s 7-5 loss to the Twins.
  • Cincinnati: The Reds have a -29 run differential and are 34-35 (.493). Cincinnati has won five straight and is 8-2 since Gordon Wittenmyer took over as the team’s beat reporter.
  • Pittsburgh: The Pirates are 11-19 (.379) in interleague games and 10-14 (.417) in blowouts but still lead the division with a 34-32 record (.505). RHP Osvaldo Bido made his MLB debut last night after six years of honing his craft in the minors.

Climbing the Ladder

“I wanna live like common people. I wanna do whatever common people do.” – William Shatner, Common People

The Cubs posted double-digit runs on Wednesday with only one extra-base hit despite striking out 11 times. Mike Tauchman has been a revelation at the top of the order and improved his OBP to .415 with three hits. Adbert Alzolay is ready to be anointed as Chicago’s everyday closer. He’s got 31 strikeouts against five walks with a very stingy 0.871 WHIP in 31 innings. Further, only three of the last 167 batters he’s faced over the past two seasons have gone yard.

  • Games Played: 67
  • Record: 30-37 (.448)
  • Total Plate Appearances: 2,557
  • Total Strikeouts: 621
  • Strikeout Rate: 24.27%
  • Team Batting Average: .247
  • Runs Scored: 295
  • Runs Allowed: 296
  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 32.2%,  1.3% to win the World Series

How About That!

MLB vice-president of local media Billy Chambers has singlehandedly rescued several teams from the Bally RSN broadcasting mess.

Five of baseball’s biggest spenders made the playoffs last year, but it is the small market teams like the Rays and Orioles who are the best of this season, at least so far.

The A’s cleared a major hurdle for their planned relocation to Las Vegas after the Nevada legislature gave final approval on Wednesday to public funding for a portion of a proposed $1.5 billion stadium with a retractable roof.

Mets reliever Drew Smith has been suspended for 10 games thanks to a sticky-stuff violation the other night.

More than 300 draft-eligible prospects are set to take part in the 2023 MLB Draft Combine from June 19-24 at Chase Field in Phoenix, including six of the top 10 prospects.

ESPN analyst Jeff Passan has named the Cardinals MLB’s most disappointing team of 2023.

Another woman has accused Trevor Bauer of sexual assault, and the former MLB pitcher is countersuing her.

Wednesday’s Three Stars

  1. Michael Harris II – The young Atlanta star was 4-for-4 with three runs, a home run, four RBI, and a stolen base in the first game of a doubleheader between the Braves and Tigers.
  2. Dansby Swanson – The Cubs shortstop was 3-for-4 with a walk, a run scored, and two RBI in the 10-6 win over the Pirates.
  3. Clint Frazier – Our old pal was 2-for-5 with a go-ahead RBI for the White Sox in Chicago’s 8-4 win over the Dodgers. I did not know Frazier was manning right field for the South Siders. I also did not realize he changed his first name back to Clint.

Extra Innings

Ross is so excited about going to London he has the shakey-shakes!

Thursday Morning Six-Pack

  1. Modelo has surpassed Bud Light as America’s number one beer, er, cerveza.
  2. Jurors in a federal court have awarded $25.6 million to a former Starbucks regional manager who alleged that she and other white employees were unfairly punished after the high-profile arrests of two Black men at a Philadelphia location in 2018
  3. Twitter is being sued by music publishers claiming 1,700 copyrighted songs are widely and illegally available on the social media platform. The suit seeks $250+ million in damages.
  4. The Activision video game Diablo IV scored $666 million in global sales in just five days, which seems hauntingly appropriate.
  5. Believe it or not, Madonna initially pursued a career as a punk rocker with a very high voice. She also played drums at the time.
  6. I’m still a big fan of CD box sets, and here are 40 of the best of all time.

They Said It

  • “This is one where we don’t talk about negotiations outside our four walls. We talk to the agents and we talk to the players. In this particular case, [Stroman] tweeted it out, which, I guess, changes the dynamic. But it doesn’t change our stance on it. We’re also just not going to comment. There are zero benefits [to] the relationship [for] them to comment on it. We don’t benefit and we’re just not going to do it.” – Hoyer
  • “Honestly, like I talked about a million times, we just don’t talk about those things. Obviously, [Stroman] made that public. Listen, I love the fact that he wants to be here. We’ve also had conversations about it, but I’m not going to disclose what we’ve talked about. But there is dialogue. We’ll keep that in-house.” – Hoyer

Thursday Walk-Up Song

I prefer the version of Madonna that we’ve all come to know and love, and this is her best song in my opinion.

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