The Rundown: Rox Drop Cubs Again, Big D-Backs Series Looms, Hoerner in Elite Company, Rodríguez Reportedly a Rat

“But as the words are leaving his lips a noise comes from behind.” – The Beatles, Maxwell’s Silver Hammer

The Cubs didn’t lose any ground and they have today off. That’s me looking at the silver lining after yesterday’s disappointing 7-3 loss to the Rockies. I’m more disappointed that they have been a pedestrian 7-7 since the start of September, but they have played 27 games in 27 days. Jack Brickhouse used to call Chicago’s annual fall from grace the “June swoon,” but it’s been the ides of September that have been the team’s undoing over the last decade.

Losing to the Rockies, a team destined for 100 losses, in September is unfathomable. Dropping two of three should still have been unacceptable, if only because time is working against Chicago’s North Side baseballers. The Cubs have 15 games left, but nine come against the Diamondbacks, Braves, and Brewers — and all on the road — so the path to the postseason isn’t going to be easy. Jameson Taillon, who has pitched poorly more often than not, will start three of those games.

Had they not pulled out a come-from-behind win on Monday, the Cubs would have been swept by Colorado. Who expected that? The upcoming series in Arizona is now a must-win affair and the trio of Justin Steele, Kyle Hendricks, and Jordan Wicks will be tasked with righting the ship. That bodes well for Chicago if they can find their missing offense. They’ve outscored their opponents 69 to 53 this month, but 26 of those runs came in two wins, one each over the Reds and Giants.

Traveling from Denver to Phoenix shouldn’t tax the players much. Today’s a good day to regroup, take a deep breath, and focus on the remainder of the season. The next nine games will be especially critical to the team’s run for a playoff berth.

Cubs News & Notes

  • Yesterday marked the Cubs’ second consecutive series loss after dropping three of four against the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field
  • Cubs players are looking at the big picture despite the disappointing losses to the Rockies.
  • The past two losses for Chicago featured some issues on the mound, in the field, and on the bases, resulting in a turn-the-page trip ahead of today’s much-needed day off.
  • Missed opportunities cost the Cubs dearly in the Rockies series.
  • Marcus Stroman is willing to take on any role the Cubs need in their push for the playoffs, even if it means working out of the bullpen. I wouldn’t mind seeing Stro as an opener.
  • Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic wrote a nice piece about the younger starters in Chicago’s rotation ($), plus the ones that are on the way.
  • Arizona Fall League rosters will be announced next week, and the writers at MLB Pipeline are hoping Matt Shaw is included.
  • I am going to start publishing a free weekly or bi-weekly newsletter soon. Make sure you sign up for email notifications in the right margin of the Cubs Insider homepage.

Odds & Sods

Norm MacDonald, Bob Uecker, John Fogerty, and David Letterman combine for one of the best anecdotes I’ve ever heard. MacDonald might have been a great play-by-play man had he pursued it. His impersonation of Uecker is spot on, too.

Central Intelligence

Cubs Math

Congratulations to the Braves, who clinched the NL East for the sixth consecutive season yesterday. They’re the favorites to win this year’s World Series.

  1. The Cubs cannot catch the Braves for the best record in the National League.
  2. The Dodgers lost and remain 11 games ahead of Chicago for the No. 2 seed. LA is seven games ahead of Milwaukee, who also lost.
  3. The Cubs still trail the Brewers by four games in the NL Central but are five behind in the loss column.
  4. The Phillies lost, but hold the top Wild Card spot, 1.5 games ahead of the Cubs.
  5. The Diamondbacks lost to the Reds and fell out of WC3, though they’re still two games behind Chicago. The Reds lead Arizona because they won the season series 4-3.
  6. The Cubs have a tiebreaker advantage over the Giants only, so the Diamondbacks series is much bigger in scope.
  7. If the season ended today, the Braves and Dodgers would have first-round byes, the Reds would play a best-of-three series at Milwaukee, and the Cubs would travel to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies.

Climbing the Ladder

“In my time of dying, want nobody to mourn. All I want for you to do is take my body home.” – Led Zeppelin, In My Time of Dying

Nico Hoerner was 4-for-5 with a stolen base, his 40th of the year. Cody Bellinger plated another run in yesterday’s loss and now has 90 RBI. The Cubs were 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position, however, failing once again to manufacture runs at critical times. The Rockies were only 2-for-5, but Cubs pitchers gave up four home runs, including another to Kris Bryant.

  • Games Played: 147
  • Record: 78-69 (.531)
  • Total Plate Appearances: 5,616
  • Total Strikeouts: 1,269
  • Strikeout Rate: 22.59%
  • Team Batting Average: .254
  • Runs Scored: 737
  • Runs Allowed: 644
  • Chances of Making the Playoffs83.4%, 4.2% to win the World Series

How About That!

Álex Rodríguez allegedly ratted out several baseball stars to save himself during the Biogenesis investigation according to ESPN.

Rodríguez also used a urination trick provided by Biogenesis to beat random drug testing 10 times.

MLB reportedly took several risks in its efforts to expose players who were using PEDs at the time.

The Astros fell two out shy of pitching a combined no-hitter over the A’s on Wednesday night.

Adam Wainwright is going to end his MLB career by performing a postgame country & western concert for Cardinals fans during the team’s final home series of the season.

MLB Network will showcase the best of what Minor League Baseball has to offer with its inaugural MiLB Awards Show, airing October 2.

Wednesday’s Three Stars

  1. Spencer Strider – The Braves’ ace held the Phillies to one run over seven innings with nine strikeouts in Atlanta’s pennant-clinching win over the Phillies.
  2. Blake Snell – The Cy Young race got a little tighter after Snell one-hit the Dodgers over six shutout innings with eight punchouts.
  3. Hoerner – With his stolen base in the 4th inning, the second baseman became the first Cubs player to reach 40 steals since Juan Pierre swiped 58 in 2006. Hoerner also joined Ryne Sandberg (1985) and Kiki Cuyler (1929) as the only Cubs in the past 100 seasons to have at least 40 steals and 60 RBI in the same season.

Extra Innings

Shaw could be in Chicago as early as next year. All that kid does is hit. Click the post to see the entire write-up by Jim Bowden. I’m looking forward to early Cactus League play next March.

Thursday Morning Six-Pack

  1. Hackers have been targeting casinos in ransomware attacks. MGM’s business has been disrupted for days, while Caesars paid about half of a $30 million ransom demand. Off the top of my head, I’d say you’re looking at a Boesky, a Jim Brown, a Miss Daisy, two Jethros, and a Leon Spinks, not to mention the biggest Ella Fitzgerald ever to pull that off.
  2. Seattle police officers need to get their shit together.
  3. People are freaking out because McDonald’s plans to phase out self-serve soda machines at all US restaurants by 2032. Most of the people who regularly drink soda (read: Boomers) probably won’t be around by then. I still do the Astro Blast at times, do you? I also haven’t been inside a McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, etc. since the pre-pandemic days.
  4. Bernie Taupin, the fantastic lyricist behind almost all of Elton John’s hits, has a few stories to tell.
  5. Nobody does parody better than The Onion, but a spotter for a sloppy, overstuffed sandwich is actually a good idea.
  6. Jimmy Buffet’s final album, a 14-track collaborative effort featuring the likes of Paul McCartney, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and Emmylou Harris, among others, will be released on November 3. Two duets that featured McCartney, “My [Gummie] Just Kicked In” and “Bubbles Up” were released last week. The latter feels a lot like Buffet’s farewell song.

They Said It

  • “[It’s nice] when you need pieces and are able to call up a young man who may be able to help. We’ve had a couple — Assad, Wicks — come up, fill in and pitch meaningful innings in this moment, a big moment in this organization pushing toward a playoff spot. It has been big. It says a lot about the hard work of all the people no one ever hears about.”David Ross

Thursday Walk-Up Song

Los Lobos is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, and today is saxman Steve Berlin’s birthday.

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