The Rundown: Cubs Scorch Reds, Castellanos Stays Hot, Lucroy Has Fantastic Debut
Maybe all the Cubs needed to cure their allergies to road victories was Ian Happ, Nick Castellanos, and Jonathan Lucroy. The three stars combined to go 8-for-14 with three home runs and eight RBI as Chicago undressed the Reds 12-5 in Cincinnati.
The North Siders pummeled Reds pitching for 19 hits and went 4-for-11 with runners in scoring position. In fact, the entire Cubs lineup performed like a non-stop wheel of death, as every starter except Jason Heyward had at least one hit. Heyward did steal a base, however, his seventh of the season.
Castellanos had two home runs and is now hitting a spicy .438 with six doubles and three home runs since being acquired from the Tigers.
Blastellanos. #EverybodyIn pic.twitter.com/7EAQzdPF3w
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 9, 2019
The offense was so good it was easy to forget the stink bomb of an effort by Cole Hamels. The veteran lefty needed 77 pitches to get through three innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on eight hits, including a laser shot off the bat of Aristides Aquino that cleared the left field fence traveling at 118.3 mph. To say that ball left the yard in a hurry is the understatement of the year.
In the end, it didn’t matter. What did matter is that the Cubs finally played a game on the road that rivaled one of the 41 victories they’ve earned at Wrigley Field this year. Maybe bringing their home whites with them on this trip provided a little good luck. Or maybe this is just a really good team that, at least for one game away from the Friendly Confines, lived up to its potential.
Cubs News & Notes
- Castellanos could be in the Cubs’ long-term plans ($), per Patrick Mooney of The Athletic.
- Kyle Schwarber is in the midst of a monster stretch that has seen him triple his WAR over 10 games. Naturally, Joe Maddon thought last night represented a good spot to rest the left fielder.
- Tyler Chatwood (5-1) fanned six over three innings in relief of Hamels to earn the victory.
- With yesterday’s win, the Cubs tied for their biggest lead of the season in the NL Central at 3.5 games.
- Javier Báez batted left-handed against emergency relief pitcher Kyle Farmer, whose normal position is backup catcher. It was a light-hearted and inconsequential at-bat that both teams seemed to enjoy. If you have El Mago on your fantasy team, as I do, it probably wasn’t the feel-good moment for you that it was for everybody else.
- Lucroy’s Cubs debut was nothing short of stellar. The lineup is incredibly deep when they field the best players at their positions.
- Because the new backstop is familiar with most of the NL Central, he could be primed for a decent run to close out the season. Being in the thick of a pennant race should motivate him, too.
- Happ, a former University of Cincinnati star and the Cubs’ hottest hitter right now, has tattooed Reds pitchers at a .404 clip with six homers in 14 games at Great American Ball Park.
- If you listened to the Reds’ radio call, how fun was it to hear ancient announcer Marty Brennaman refer to Heyward as former basketball great Spencer Haywood?
- Ben Zobrist hit a home run at Myrtle Beach yesterday, his first since starting his rehab assignment a little over a week ago.
How About That!
Blue Jays rookie shortstop Bo Bichette is on the kind of heater right now that only Maddon could stop.
Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale became just the fifth pitcher to record 200-plus strikeouts in seven consecutive seasons.
Mets rookie Pete Alonso has 37 home runs this season. The franchise record is 41, held by Todd Hundley and Carlos Beltrán.
The Tigers are on pace to finish the season with just 49 wins. They’re 5-20 since the All-Star Game, 6-24 in their past 30, and 11-45 since June 1, a 32-win pace over an entire season. No wonder Castellanos loves playing for the Cubs so much.
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Chris Sale – It’s been a tough season for the perennial Cy Young runner up, but Sale was vintage last night, recording 13 strikeouts over eight innings without issuing a walk.
- Nick Castellanos – As Castellanos goes, so go the Cubs. The outfielder was 3-for-4 with two taters and two RBI last night and has been an offensive leader during Chicago’s recent surge.
- Gio Urshela – The Yankees third baseman hit two home runs for the second straight game, has homered in three straight, and is hitting .323 with 16 homers, 59 RBI and a .934 OPS in 94 games while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense all season long. He was sold to the Yankees a year ago by the Blue Jays.
Apropos of Nothing
Brad Brach signed with the Mets. That should derail their recent hot streak pretty quickly. Some of Brach’s peripheral statistics gave New York’s front office reason to believe a rebound is in the cards for the reliever. Based on firsthand experience, I’d say hope is for people blinded by the truth.
This Really Deserves its Own Section
Baseball’s last forfeit occurred on August 10, 1995, in a game between the Dodgers and Cardinals, when unruly fans started hurling souvenir baseballs at Cardinals’ outfielders in protest to some questionable calls by home plate umpire Jim Quick.
“Mr. Coleman, it’s Jim Quick, and Bob Davidson’s on the line, too. We had to forfeit a game at Dodger Stadium.”
It’s just Iowa, but to White Sox players, it will probably seem a lot like Heaven. Next year, the ChiSox will play the Yankees in a makeshift stadium that will be built at the complex in Dyersville, IA that was used to film the iconic baseball movie Field of Dreams. The game is slated for the night of August 13, the anniversary of the film’s debut in 1989, and is expected to easily sell out the 8,000-seat venue.
Is this heaven?@Yankees–@WhiteSox, see you in Iowa on 8.13.20. pic.twitter.com/5GGbH7TWuq
— MLB (@MLB) August 8, 2019
According to MLB, the facility will be built adjacent to rows of corn like those that lined the field in the movie. Chicago will be considered the home team and the game will count in the regular season standings. I can neither confirm nor deny that the game will represent the White Sox largest home crowd of the season.
“And they’ll watch the game, and it’ll be as if they’ve dipped themselves in magic waters,” James Earl Jones (as Terrence Mann) said in the film. “The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces.”
I’m predicting the Yankees will hit 27 home runs in that game, in honor of the legacy of that franchise’s greatest team, the 1927 Bronx Bombers.
They Said It
- “That’s the way we’re supposed to look — the energy before the game, the dugout was alive. There were a few more smiles and a refreshing kind of attitude. That’s what you have to be.” – Joe Maddon
- “At first I was scared. I was kind of nervous. I wanted to swing so bad. … I just didn’t know when to start [my swing]. I’ll probably [bat left-handed] again if I face a position player or someone that isn’t throwing hard.” – Javier Báez
- “I got some good pitches to hit tonight. They made some mistakes to me, and I was able to get the barrel on them. So, yeah, it was a good night. It was fun.” – Nick Castellanos
Friday Walk Up Song
I’ve Been Thinking by Handsome Boy Modeling School featuring Cat Power. Cubs fans can’t get enough of Castellanos.