The Rundown: Bullpen Shines in Big Win Over Braves, Hendricks Heads to the ‘Pen, Historic Ruth Jersey Goes to Auction

“I’m feelin’ okay this mornin’ and you know. We’re on a road to paradise here we go, here we go.” – Talking Heads, Road to Nowhere

The Cubs displayed their heralded resiliency in defeating the Braves 4-3 last night, a game that should be considered a resounding win for Chicago’s beleaguered bullpen. Tyson Miller, Mark Leiter Jr., Hayden Wesneski, Héctor Neris, and Luke Little shut the Braves down for 5.1 innings, limiting Atlanta to 1 hit with six strikeouts. Nico Hoerner won it in the 10th inning with a Baltimore Chop infield single that scored Cody Bellinger. Go Cubs Go, as the Steve Goodman ditty says.

Leiter was dominant and looked like the lights-out closer the Cubs could use if he wasn’t so valuable as a set-up reliever. He struck out the side in the 7th inning, throwing 13 of 16 pitches for strikes. Clean innings are a rarity in these parts, so I wouldn’t mind seeing the veteran righty tidying up like that for the last three outs of each game. The thought had to cross Craig Counsell‘s mind when MLJ lit up Matt Olson, Travis d’Arnaud, and Michael Harris II. How could you not visualize that?

Chicago’s offense was once again mediocre, so Hoerner’s knock looks much bigger than it was. It would be nice to see the Cubs win again tonight; the North Siders haven’t won back-to-back games in three weeks, and their last streak of at least three victories happened April 23-27. To beat Atlanta again they’re going to have to score runs like they did during the first four weeks of the season.

The Braves are one of baseball’s best teams and, though they’re 27-18, they still trail the Phillies by six games, so expect Atlanta to be looking for revenge at Wrigley Field tonight. A win by Chicago’s North Side Baseballers would be huge, especially since the Braves are giving the ball to Max Fried, who’s 5-0 in five lifetime starts against the Cubs. Justin Steele is Fried’s counterpart, and he needs to give Chicago quality innings since Counsell took the bullpen five deep last night.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Cars and baseball go together like Ruth, beer, hot dogs, and long weekends.

Central Intelligence

Climbing the Ladder

“And on the first day, we had everything we could stand. Oh-oh-oh who could’ve asked for more?” – Talking Heads, What a Day That Was (Live)

Cubs batters have been hit by pitches more than any team in baseball, which is odd because Counsell isn’t on the other side this season. Other than triples, that’s the only offensive statistic in which Chicago leads the league. They’re 12th among 15 NL teams in hits and batting average, 10th in total bases, and only four NL teams strike out more frequently. Getting Hoerner and Swanson back will help, but they’re not real difference-makers.

Don’t forget, Chicago started the season as one of the league’s best offensive teams. They’ve nosedived faster than the World War II kamikaze pilots at the Battle of Okinawa. Enjoy your Memorial Day burgers this Monday.

  • Games Played: 49
  • Record: 27-22 (.551), 2nd place in NL Central
  • In One-Run Games: 10-9 (.526)
  • Total Plate Appearances: 1,846
  • Total Strikeouts: 429
  • Strikeout Rate: 23.24%
  • Team Batting Average: .230
  • With Runners in Scoring Position: 92-for-384 (.240)
  • Runs Scored: 216
  • Runs Allowed: 207
  • Pythagorean Record: 25-24
  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 81.5%, 2.8% chance to win World Series 

How About That!

Seven teams deemed preseason contenders — including the Cardinals — are facing a critical stretch of games that will make or break their seasons.

Parity is the MLB rule this summer as only five teams look like true postseason contenders, including the Braves and Orioles. The Cubs are ranked 11th, by the way, three spots behind the Brewers.

The Blue Jays reportedly set “ridiculous” asking prices in trade talks for first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and shortstop Bo Bichette

Nacho cheese was the call-determining evidence in a shot by Corey Seager that was eventually ruled a home run.

Phillies first baseman Bryce Harper gets the assist in a young man’s attempt to ask his girlfriend to be his date for his high school prom.

The Reds are a perfect example of Murphy’s Law this season, though they still can’t field no matter who plays.

Cincinnati manager David Bell looks like he’s reached his boiling point after destroying a clubhouse chair.

Tuesday’s Three Stars

  1. Bobby Witt Jr. – It was a career night for the Royals shortstop in Kansas City’s 10-3 win over the Tigers. Witt Jr. belted two home runs with six RBI and stole his 16th base of the season.
  2. Byron Buxton – The Twins’ star outfielder also hit two taters, stole a base, and plated three runners in a 10-0 win over the Nationals.
  3. Dylan Moore – The Mariners infielder also — you guessed it — blasted two home runs in Seattle’s 6-3 win over the Yankees.

Extra Innings

Sing the damn song!

Wednesday Morning Six-Pack

  1. I’ve been at Cubs Insider for about a decade or so but it appears the most popular article I’ve written is this recent one for Bears Insider.
  2. Matthew Perry’s death is under investigation by Los Angeles police over how the beloved Friends actor received the ketamine that was found in his system.
  3. Some savvy engineers have built a working Dune-like still suit that makes drinkable water using its wearer’s body fluids, which should make you the big winner at your office Halloween party. Hard pass.
  4. This is a much better invention courtesy of some bright students at John Hopkins University.
  5. Ann Wilson of Heart says that computers have taken over music composition.
  6. Stephen King’s new collection of short stories took him 45 years to write.

Batter Up!

Here’s a treat for you: Talking Heads Live in Rome, 1980.

They Said It

  • “Kyle’s going to pitch out of the bullpen this time around. It will not be [Hendricks] on Thursday. We’ll play these games and kind of figure out — Thursday will be somewhat of a bullpen game and go from there.” – Counsell
  • “I think [Hendricks] has had some success the first time through the order. After that, it’s gotten pretty dicey, and so I think this gives him a chance to work through some stuff and there’s a chance he continues that trend and has success there. There are some good things we see but obviously, he hasn’t put it together yet. And he knows that and obviously he’s the ultimate pro, so he understands why we’re doing it.” – Jed Hoyer
  • “Our pitching is precarious enough right now that we can’t — we are going day by day with a lot of this right now and I think we should. The goal still is to get Kyle on track and get him back in the rotation. That’s absolutely what I’d like to do.” – Counsell

Wednesday Walk-Up Song

I’ll be in New Orleans Thursday through Monday for a birthday and an engagement party. I’m not going to moon a helicopter but I intend to have as much fun on Bourbon Street as the Bears did in 1986.

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