The Rundown: Improbable Catch Extends Hot Streak, Cubs May Stand Pat, White Sox Continue Roster Purge

“Welcome to the jungle, we take it day by day. If you want it you’re gonna bleed, but it’s the price to pay.” – Guns N’ Roses, Welcome to the Jungle

The Cubs continue to defy the odds and are squashing the narrative that they’re just an average team. Jed Hoyer built this team to win close games thanks to strong pitching and tight defense, and the 9th inning of last night’s 3-2 win over the Cardinals was the culmination of those offseason efforts. After Adbert Alzolay put two batters on with no outs, Nico Hoerner and Dansby Swanson pulled off an eye-popping double play. Both were upstaged one batter later by Mike Tauchman.

The call by St. Louis announcer Chip Caray is downright degenerate. Losing to the Cubs in this fashion is a microcosm of the neverending nightmare that has become the Cardinals’ season. The silence after Caray’s call is indeed golden.

Tauchman has been one of Jed Hoyer’s best under-the-radar signings, the equivalent of flipping the bird at Theo Epstein for the likes of Jon Jay and Daniel Descalso. If the Cubs had a guy like Tauchman in 2019, their history might look vastly different. The center fielder’s spectacular catch may have pushed Chicago into buy mode while simultaneously forcing St. Louis to sell. The Redbirds are dead birds and it’s entertaining to watch the North Siders putting them out of their misery.

On the flip side, I keep saying the Cubs need a bona fide closer and I’d hope Hoyer has San Diego GM A.J. Preller on his speed dial if the Padres are truly making Josh Hader available. I like Alzolay, but I’d rather see him manning the 8th inning for now because he lacks Hader’s experience and electrifying strikeout rate. I realize acquiring a replacement is not the popular opinion, but I’m just trying to look at this roster minus my Cubs blinders. Give me a guy who can throw gas in the manner of Aroldis Chapman.

But that’s nitpicking on my part. I’ve enjoyed the last week of baseball as much as any stretch of games since the last out of the 2016 season. These Cubs remind me of the organization’s 2015 iteration or the Cleveland squad from Major League. Let’s hope Jameson Taillon can keep the winning streak going tonight. There’s nothing better than watching the Cubs take Adam Wainwright to the woodshed.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Central Intelligence

Climbing the Ladder

“He’s the one that makes ya feel alright.” – Mötley Crüe, Dr. Feelgood

I want to say that last night’s game had a playoff-like atmosphere, but I’m disinclined to give the Cardinals the credit.

Don’t look now, but the Cubs have quietly climbed to No. 6 overall in run differential. The offense deserves the bulk of the credit, too. Entering last night’s game, Chicago’s batters led the league in runs per game (7.17), batting average (.301), OPS (.873), and stolen bases (20) since the All-Star break. The lineup is much stronger when Swanson, Hoerner, Ian Happ, and Seiya Suzuki are all healthy.

  • Games Played: 103
  • Record: 52-51 (.505)
  • Total Plate Appearances: 3,972
  • Total Strikeouts: 935
  • Strikeout Rate: 23.54%
  • Team Batting Average: .254
  • Runs Scored: 509
  • Runs Allowed: 453
  • Chances of Making the Playoffs49.0%, 2.4% to win the World Series

How About That!

The White Sox continued razing their roster by trading Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly to the Dodgers. Los Angeles sent outfielder Trayce Thompson and pitchers Nick Nastrini and Jordan Leasure to Chicago in return.

The South Siders made a trade with the Astros too, shipping reliever Kendall Graveman to Houston for Triple-A catcher Korey Lee.

Max Scherzer isn’t happy that the Mets traded closer David Robertson, so he wants to talk with the front office about the club’s direction.

MLB analyst Álex Rodríguez took a boatload of social media shrapnel for a ridiculous Shohei Ohtani trade proposal. You just have to do your best with what God gives you, I suppose.

A-Rod’s faux pas is on par with this bit of Ohtani satire by The Onion.

The Mariners are open to offers for their starters and closer Paul Sewald, but they want a major league bat with long-term contract control.

Several highly-rated prospects could be available in the right deal, including slugging Reds shortstop Noelvi Marte.

The Marlins and Orioles are hot for Michael Lorenzen.

MLB attendance is up 9%, baseball’s highest one-year increase since the 1998 home run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire sold out stadiums wherever the Cubs or Cardinals played.

This shot of Camden Yards is nearly biblical in scope.

Friday’s Three Stars

  1. Tauchman – He singlehandedly won the game last night and there is no denying that.
  2. Bobby Witt Jr. – The Royals shortstop was 4-for-5 with six RBI and a walk-off grand slam, but Tauchman upstaged him by stealing a home run from Alec Burleson.
  3. Zack Wheeler – The Phillies’ ace held the Pirates to one run on three hits over 6.2 innings with 11 strikeouts.

Extra Innings

For Tauchman and the Cubs, it doesn’t get any better than this.

They Said It

  • “That was nuts. We don’t win that game early in the season.”David Ross
  • “We’re in such a time in baseball of trying to understand and evaluate and analyze everything. Sometimes things just line up and happen and you just roll with it and enjoy it.” – Hoerner
  • “There’s ups and downs in a season, but we have a lot of really, really good baseball players in this room. We’re pretty multidimensional on offense, and the bullpen has been sharp. The starting pitching has been great all year. The defense kind of speaks for itself. That’s all the characteristics of a good team.” – Tauchman

Saturday Walk-Up Song

These Cubs have been a blast to watch since mid-June.

Back to top button