The Rundown: Cubs Batter Reds, Candelario Excited to Be Back, Hoyer Crushing on Belli, Valdez No-Hits Guardians

“I’m like evil, I get under your skin just like a bomb that’s ready to blow.” – AC/DC, Shoot to Thrill

I’ve seen two games in my lifetime where the Cubs hit six or more home runs and scored 20 or more runs. The first one was in 1977 when the Phillies beat the Cubs 23-22 despite three home runs by Dave Kingman and seven RBI by Bill Buckner. Last night, Chicago’s North Side Baseballers demolished the Reds 20-9 as a very powerful way of thanking president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer for not selling at this year’s trade deadline.

Hoyer didn’t do much, but he did acquire Jeimer Candelario, who started his Cubs career 2.0 with a four-hit night. If last night’s offensive onslaught is a sign of things to come, Wrigleyville is going to remain electric through the remainder of the season and deep into the playoffs. Candelario was acquired from the Nationals for DJ Herz and Kevin Made, and those players are so insignificant I had to revisit the trade to remember their names.

Some Cubs fans, mostly those who remain perpetually unhappy in their fandom, were upset that Hoyer didn’t acquire a left-handed reliever. The Brewers were able to free Andrew Chafin from the Diamondbacks, who were buying and selling all day. All it cost them was reliever Peter Strzelecki, who sounds like he might be better suited kicking for the Packers.

I despise the lefty-lefty faction of armchair analysts because that strategy all but died when MLB started requiring pitchers to face a minimum of three batters. Hitting is about timing and pitching is about disrupting it, no matter which side of the mound one throws. Most good managers don’t stack left-handed hitters back-to-back, and besides, most MLB teams hit lefties better than righties.

Still, a bullpen acquisition or two would have been nice. However, Chicago’s pen isn’t all that bad if you’re okay with letting Adbert Alzolay close. The Cubs’ relief pitchers don’t walk a lot of batters and do a decent job of keeping the ball in the park. They don’t have a lot of saves, but the Cubs are 25-14 in blowout games, a whopping 36.4% of their schedule thus far. By contrast, the first-place Reds are 8-14 in games decided by five runs or more.

Ironically, the Cubs being built to play tight, lower-scoring games should favor them based on their defense and pitching. But things haven’t gone according to plan because Chicago is 11-13 in one-run games and Cincinnati is 24-21. That five-game swing is the difference between being in first place instead of third.

Last night was fun. More of that, please and thank you. It’s a lot better than being so far down in the standings you can hear a couple of lobsters duking it out. No offense, Cardinals fans.

Cubs News & Notes.

Odds & Sods

I don’t know if any of you caught the pregame show on Marquee yesterday, and I know Hoyer was exhausted, but he (kinda-sorta) let it slip that the team has talked to Cody Bellinger about staying in Chicago beyond this year, and Hoyer seemed upbeat. Bellinger’s option hasn’t been exercised in case you are confused by the lower graphic.

That’s a man-crush smile by the team’s top executive. He never looked like that when he talked about Kris Bryant or Anthony Rizzo.

Central Intelligence

Climbing the Ladder

“But when the day is done and the sun goes down and the moonlight’s shinin’ through. Then like a sinner before the gates of Heaven I’ll come crawlin’ on back to you.” – Meat Loaf, Bat Out of Hell

Welcome back, Candy Man! The North Siders finished the night with seven homers, trying a modern franchise record (last achieved on May 17, 1977). In addition to blasts by Swanson (2) and Bellinger. Patrick Wisdom, Mike Tauchman, Nico Hoerner, and Miguel Amaya all homered. The Cubs finished with 21 hits, and every position player had at least one knock.

  • Games Played: 107
  • Record: 54-53 (.505)
  • Total Plate Appearances: 4,129
  • Total Strikeouts: 966
  • Strikeout Rate: 23.53%
  • Team Batting Average: .256
  • Runs Scored: 539
  • Runs Allowed: 472
  • Chances of Making the Playoffs49.9%, 2.7% to win the World Series

How About That!

Eduardo Rodríguez invoked his no-trade clause to veto a potential deal with the Dodgers.

Baseball fans were the biggest winners at this year’s deadline. The AL West will now come down to Max Scherzer and the Rangers, Justin Verlander and the Astros, and Shohei Ohtani and the Angels.

The Mets quickly switched gears from heavy payroll, league-conquering baseball to prospecting for the 2025-26 seasons. One would think New York is completely out on Ohtani this winter, but then again, nobody really knows what the hell Steve Cohen is thinking.

I’m not going to list all of yesterday’s trades, but I will give you detailed access to every transaction. Teach a man to fish…

The Cardinals embraced their role as sellers but may have a tough time competing in 2024 despite keeping Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt.

Tuesday’s Three Stars

  1. Dansby Swanson: The All-Star shortstop was 2-for-4 with two home runs and five RBI in yesterday’s route. He might have had a third, too. Patrick Wisdom was hitting in his spot when he homered off catcher/mop-up reliever Luke Maile.
  2. Bellinger: The Chicago centerfielder had three hits, three RBI, a home run, and a stolen base.
  3. Candelario: Four hits in his return to the Cubs gets him on the list.

By all rights, Framber Valdez deserves the top spot because he no-hit the Guardians last night.

Extra Innings

One video is worth 100,000 words…and 20 runs.

They Said It

  • “There was a period where it looked like we were gonna be sellers. I think back to when we were seven under and playing the Nationals down 3-0. It looked like we were going to drop to eight under. We ended up scoring 17 that night and then sort of didn’t look back for a while. That was not very long ago. At that point, it did look like things were going in (a selling) direction.” – Hoyer
  • “Candidly, it was such a seller’s market. There was not a ton of talent this year on the market when we looked at it overall. I think all the teams kind of felt that way. We talked to different executives. It was not a really robust market in a lot of ways. We tried pretty hard. We were definitely in on a lot of different guys.” – Hoyer
  • “It’s funny, because the last time we played the Nationals, [Candelario] said, ‘Hey, keep winning, keep winning, because I might get traded [to Chicago] if you’re competing.'” – Cubs assistant hitting coach Juan Cabreja

Wednesday Walk-Up Song

I have a one YouTube video per column policy, so you’ll just have to click this link to discover today’s walk-up song.

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