The Rundown: Cubs Sweep Pirates, Ross Shifts Rotation for London Games, A’s Move to Vegas Nearly Finalized

“Hear me prowlin’, hear me growlin’.” – The Rolling Stones, Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’

The Cubs swept the Pirates to win four consecutive series and now they’re in London to play the Cardinals. If they take the two games at London Stadium, Chicago’s North Side Baseballers will return stateside playing .500 baseball. That seemed to be an improbability two weeks ago when the Cubs left California 10 games under .500 and 7.5 games behind Pittsburgh.

For those who didn’t make the trip to England, FOX will broadcast Saturday’s game at 12:10pm CT and ESPN will televise Sunday’s match at 9am CT. Derek Jeter will debut as a FOX Sports studio analyst on Saturday. The Cardinals will be the “home” team in both of the contests, though the Cubs will wear home whites in one of them.

The Cubs enter the series winners of 10 of their last 12 and still can’t keep pace with the white-hot Reds, who’ve won 12 straight. David Ross is throwing big guns Justin Steele and Marcus Stroman at St. Louis, who will counter with Adam Wainwright and Jack Flaherty.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

I wonder what Jed Hoyer doesn’t see in Stroman that the rest of us do.

Central Intelligence

Deadline Dreaming

Most teams decide right after the All-Star break whether they are buyers or sellers. Here’s a look at the upcoming schedule for the Cubs and their NL Central brethren leading up to the classic in Seattle next month.

  • Reds (40-35): They host the Braves before traveling to Baltimore, then return home for a three-game set against the Padres. That’s followed by stops in Washington and Milwaukee.
  • Brewers (38-36): They begin a three-city, 10-game road trip against the Guardians, Mets, and Pirates before hosting the Cubs and Reds.
  • Cubs (36-38): The Cubs will host the Phillies and Guardians when they return from London followed by road games against the Brewers and Yankees.
  • Pirates (34-39): They host the Padres and Brewers before heading west to play the Dodgers and Diamondbacks.
  • Cardinals (31-44): They return from London to host Astros and Yankees and then hit the road for sets with the Marlins and White Sox.

Climbing the Ladder

“Happiness, more or less, it’s just a change in me, something in my liberty.” – The Verve, Lucky Man

I’m a big believer in the Pythagorean record, and Chicago’s is 40-34. The Cubs are now 6-0 against the Pirates, but they’re 3-8 against the rest of the NL Central. That makes the two games against the Redbirds much bigger. The balanced schedule makes intradivisional games a lot more meaningful.

Continuing to hit with runners in scoring position will go a long way toward beating St. Louis. The Cubs were 3-for-6 yesterday, and 8-for-25 in the series.

  • Games Played: 74
  • Record: 36-38 (.486)
  • Total Plate Appearances: 2,828
  • Total Strikeouts: 681
  • Strikeout Rate: 24.08%
  • Team Batting Average: .247
  • Runs Scored: 338
  • Runs Allowed: 312
  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 60%,  3.3% to win the World Series

How About That!

MLB is being sued by 17 former scouts who said they were discriminated against because of age.

Rob Manfred said he regrets giving Astros players immunity in exchange for testimony during the 2017 sign-stealing scandal.

The Twins signed former Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, who also pitched for the ’17 Astros, to a minor league contract.

The A’s are preparing their MLB application to relocate from Oakland to Las Vegas, and if approved by at least 75% of league owners, the move will become official.

Nevada lawmakers signed off on the team’s request for $380 million in public funding last week as part of their efforts to construct a $1.5 billion stadium on the Vegas Strip.

This a friendly reminder that the Cubs are playing better baseball than the Mets, who spent $445 million on players this winter.

Apropos of Nothing

I’d like you to check out two under-the-radar independent musical performers: Dan Platansky and Matt Derda & the High Watts.

Wednesday’s Three Stars

  1. Hoerner – The second baseman played shortstop yesterday, and in addition to his solid defense, he had a home run, a triple, and three RBI on a 2-for-5 day.
  2. Javier Báez– The former Cubs’ shortstop earned his 1,000th hit on a 2-for-4 day in the Tigers’ 9-3 win over the Royals.
  3. Ian Gibaut – The Reds reliever earned his eighth win of the season, and he has an excellent chance of catching MLB record holder Roy Face, who was 18-1 in 1959. Ron Perranoski holds the NL win record for relievers with 16 in 1963.

Extra Innings

I never thought I’d say this, but Hoerner is one of the best second basemen in baseball. Truth be told, I prefer Chicago’s second-sacker over José  Altuve, Ozzie Albies, and Jeff McNeil. I do like Marcus Semien and Luis Arráez, though.

Thursday Morning Six-Pack

  1. Finding survivors on the Titan, the submersible that went missing Sunday with five people on board as it journeyed toward the wreckage of the Titanic, is probably impossible at this point. The five-passenger mini-sub is out of oxygen though hope remains that the crew was able to conserve some of it.
  2. After discovering a major error in its accounting, the Pentagon realized it could send another $6.2 billion worth of weapons to Ukraine without having to ask Congress for more aid cash.
  3. The FTC filed a lawsuit against Amazon for violating consumer protection laws by deceiving its Prime members. Their “Iliad Flow” cancellation process, which requires at least six click-throughs by the consumer, is among the complaints against the behemoth online retailer.
  4. The city of Denver is hosting a psychedelics conference and the featured speakers include quarterback Aaron Rodgers, musician Melissa Etheridge, and John Mackey, the co-founder of Whole Foods. Former Texas governor Rick Perry will also be a keynote.
  5. Blood-red crickets have invaded Elko, NV, which has been described as a “biblical plague.” The critters have been causing chaos across the northern part of the state since they began hatching in May.
  6. Elton John once called his record company and demanded that they stop the wind blowing outside his London hotel suite.

They Said It

  • “It’s just acknowledging positive things that are going on, especially when you’re in your early stages. We all want results, obviously, no matter what stage of your career you’re at. But trying to establish yourself at this level, it can be even harder to take positives like hitting a ball 110 [mph] right at somebody, or Miguel Amaya flying out to the track in deep center on a two-strike pitch off a tough lefty. Those things are really significant and don’t go unnoticed. It’s important for guys to feel seen and appreciated by what’s going on around them, and feel a part of it.” – Hoerner
  • “It happens super fast, and I’m still figuring out everything, too. It’s all very closely related. I don’t see it as a veteran/younger guy relationship. It’s more something that’s very recent in my mind. I also know how impactful certain conversations I had [were], or even the small comments from my first couple months up or first couple years here. Those things can go a long way. It’s just kind of consistently being a source of positivity or whatever it needs that day.” – Hoerner

Thursday Walk-Up Song

I saw Counting Crows for the first time last night. The show was great.

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