On the heels of last night’s superb effort by José Quintana in leading the Cubs to a 4-0 victory over the Marlins, today will mark the most important game of the season for a 7-9 Cubs team that has yet to really establish its identity. Yes, I know it’s early and that the Marlins are not a very formidable opponent, but that’s the point. Joe Maddon and his squad will have a chance to earn their first three-game sweep of the season, so I’d like to see a little more R. Lee Ermey and a lot less Matthew McConaughey out of the Cubs manager.
The Marlins have led in just 33 innings this season and only four of those have resulted in wins. Today’s starter, Sandy Alcantara, lost 9-1 to the Phillies in his last outing. The Marlins are slashing .220/.283/.628 as a team and are 3-9 at home. The Cubs can’t let up and be content to take two of three in Miami when they should, by all rights, end the series in decisive fashion. More importantly, it will prove that the Cubs can avoid last season’s repeated failure to close out series while establishing a new paradigm for this season.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 17, 2019
It will be interesting to see the lineup that takes the field in support of Cole Hamels this evening. In my opinion, the Cubs absolutely need to go into Friday’s game against the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field just a win shy of .500 rather than needing a sweep to reach that benchmark. Go for the jugular, Joe. Miami has nothing to play for this season but the first draft pick in 2020.
Cubs News & Notes
- Kris Bryant hasn’t had the strong start he had hoped for, but getting back on track may just be a matter of making a small adjustment or two.
- MLB is investigating a series of racist messages sent to reliever Carl Edwards Jr. over social media. The announcement came as the league celebrates the anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier.
- Maddon said there is no date set for LHP Jon Lester (left hamstring strain) to resume throwing while he continues non-baseball rehabilitation.
- LHP Mike Montgomery (left lat) postponed his rehabilitation stint at Single-A South Bend after his wife gave birth to the couple’s first child.
- Carlos Zambrano is hoping to make a comeback playing independent league baseball, but I’m guessing it is more publicity and marketing than anything else. Still, you can never count Big Z out. I wonder if he has lost his temper? The affable but sometimes surly pitcher has always reminded me of Curly from television’s Three Stooges, especially when you think about all of his career highlights and lowlights. Oh that knucklehead!
- Quintana and Yu Darvish have shown a much-welcomed increase in strikeout rate. The Cubs rotation, which includes Lester, Hamels, and Kyle Hendricks, more often than not relies on precise location and defense rather than punchouts.
- Quintana has 18 strikeouts over his last two starts, and the key to his success might be increased confidence in his changeup.
- Darvish has re-added the two-seam fastball to his arsenal.
- Hamels is also looking for back-to-back dominating starts.
- Because of Sunday’s postponement, the return of Addison Russell from his 40-game suspension will be delayed another day. The earliest he can return to the team is now May 3.
- Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts still believes in this team.
- Happy Anniversary to the Cubs and WGN-TV. The team’s long-standing policy of televising baseball games on local TV has spanned 71 years. With the flagship’s entry into baseball coverage on April 16, 1948 came a commitment to carry every possible home game. Three generations of Cubs fans have been able to watch the majority of the team’s games for free, but that will all change with the debut of the Marquee Network starting next season.
How About That!
The White Sox may end up not regretting that they were unable to sign Manny Machado. Infielders Tim Anderson and Yoán Moncada are off to fantastic starts. I’d bet Rick Hahn wishes he never traded Fernando Tatís Jr. for James Shields, though.
Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich has nine home runs this season after another three-run bomb last night. Eight of those taters have come in six games against the Cardinals. The Milwaukee slugger went in to last night’s game sporting a .563/.696/2.633 slash line against the Redbirds this season. By all means, Mike Shildt, keep pitching to him. Yelich is clearly the best player in baseball right now.
Philadelphia will host the 2026 All-Star Game. This year’s game is July 9 in Cleveland. The 2020 game will be at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Sites for 2021-25 have not been announced. The ’26 game will be baseball’s salute to the 250th anniversary of the signing of The Declaration of Independence.
Chris Sale is now 0-4 after losing 8-0 to the Yankees last night. The Red Sox left-hander and perennial Cy Young candidate lost just four games through the entirety of last season, including the playoffs and World Series.
Tuesday’s Three Stars
- James Paxton – The lanky Yankees left-hander punched out 12 BoSox batters while allowing just two hits over eight innings. It was the team’s first shutout of the Red Sox since July 16, 2017.
- J.T. Realmuto/Scott Kingery – The Phillies’ 4/5 hitters combined to go 6-for-9 with two taters and 10 RBI as Philadelphia plastered the Mets 14-3.
- Yoán Moncada – The ChiSox keystone was 2-for-4 with two home runs and two RBI as the White Sox defeated the Royals 5-1.
Hey Big Z – I hope you make it back to the majors before the universal DH. As a batter, Zambrano retired with 24 home runs and 71 RBI over 12 seasons with three Silver Slugger awards.
For Those Who Care
The outcome of my surgical procedure was 50/50, sort of like splitting a doubleheader. Nothing overly debilitating, but not the perfect outcome I had hoped for. I’ve got some work to do, but nothing that I believe will defeat me.
Interestingly, a complete stranger told me on Monday morning that my next life will be whatever I wish for in my last living thought, not that I was or am facing my mortality at the present time. But, I went into my anesthesia-induced sleep thinking that I will be the Cubs’ starting center fielder 25 years from now. How will you know it’s me? I’ll be wearing number 7 and will draw comparisons to the great Mike Trout. Apparently in my last life my dying wish was to be a balding volunteer blogger for a dedicated fan site. Not sure what I was thinking there…
They Said It
- “We were shocked by the racist, profanity-laced social media message sent to Carl Edwards Jr. earlier this month. We vehemently condemn the content of the message and are supporting Major League Baseball’s investigation to identify the person responsible. In a sport that celebrates diversity and unites people from all backgrounds, we are appalled anyone claiming to be a fan would send divisive and bigoted insults to a player. Whether spoken, posted or published, this type of reprehensible language and views cannot be tolerated in our game or society.” – Theo Epstein
- “We’re still going to be more contact-(oriented). I don’t anticipate these guys turning into these strikeout monsters. But it’s there, and they got to know it’s there, when to pull it out of your back pocket.” – Joe Maddon
- “I just flat-out stink right now.” – Chris Sale
Wednesday Walk Up Song
Dirty Blvd. by Lou Reed. It hasn’t been pretty but the Cubs are inching ever closer to .500, something that seemed almost impossible when the team was 3-8.