The Rundown: Cubs Grab Big Win, Hendricks Owns Cards Again, 22 MLB Teams Still Have Legitimate Postseason Chances
The Cubs closed out the unofficial end of summer with a big win over the Cardinals, allowing their fans to exhale for at least a few hours ahead of tonight’s tilt with the Reds. In beating St. Louis 5-1 yesterday, the Cubs turned what could have been a very uncomfortable half-game lead into a less claustrophobic 2.5-game cushion.
Kyle Hendricks was masterful yesterday and always seems to be the stopper when his teammates desperately need one, especially at home against the Cardinals. On the offensive side, the Cubs scored all of their runs without the benefit of a homer, something very rare for this ballclub. Even better, the North Siders struck out just three times while drawing five walks.
Kyle Hendricks has the third-lowest ERA at home among active players. (Min. 500 IP) pic.twitter.com/w0cY51kj3D
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) September 8, 2020
It looks like Jason Kipnis is starting to heat up again after a two-week slump. After yesterday’s 2-for-2 game, Kipnis is now 7-for-15 (.467) since September 1 with a home run, two doubles and five RBI. Javier Báez had a great game at the plate as well, going 3-for-4 (all singles) with a run scored. Kris Bryant chipped in two singles of his own and finally got his batting average up to .200.
Certainly one game is not a cure-all and several deficiencies still exist, but Chicago was able to come up with a big win when it was desperately needed. With the Reds coming to town, the Cubs will hope to pad their lead while pushing Cincinnati further out of the race. The Cubs lead the season series 4-3, and this will be the last time the two teams play each other in the regular season, barring any postponements.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals will host the Twins tonight in a doubleheader before taking on the Tigers in another twin bill on Thursday. Then they’ll host the Reds for four games over the weekend, including yet another doubleheader.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs added some speed and defensive help when they claimed Billy Hamilton off waivers from the Mets on Saturday. In 17 games this season he is 1-for-22 (.045) with three stolen bases and four runs scored. Ian Miller must be thinking he has no chance under David Ross at this point. Miller’s career batting average is .176 but he had a tremendous spring training and summer camp.
- Matt Dermody was bounced from the roster to make room for Hamilton.
- Hendricks did not walk a single batter in eight innings of work yesterday and has now allowed just 0.93 BB per 9 IP, the third-lowest by a Cubs pitcher through nine starts in the Division Era (since 1969), and the best since Dennis Eckersley in 1985.
- Does it really matter if the Cubs win the NL Central with the expanded playoff format?
- Báez is unhappy with the 2020 MLB rule that prohibits watching in-game video of previous at-bats. “With all respect, we didn’t cheat,” said Báez of the Astros’ and Red Sox’ scandals. “We’re not cheating, and we gotta pay for others.”
- Technically, MLB did not ban in-game video replay terminals this season because of the Astros. The official decision did not come until the release of the new league operations manual in June, when MLB and the MLBPA jointly agreed to ban them because of the coronavirus. The ban may be implemented permanently, however.
- Tyler Chatwood and José Quintana both are taking steps forward this week as they look to return from the injured list. Chatwood began a throwing program yesterday and Quintana reported that his injured lat was relatively pain-free.
Odds & Sods
I’m a fan of expanded playoffs and this is why. I wouldn’t object if MLB made it a regular thing.
With exactly 20 days remaining in the regular season, 22 of the 30 teams are within two games of a playoff spot.
That includes the Mariners, Tigers and Orioles. pic.twitter.com/JOaPuwlog7
— Kyle Glaser (@KyleAGlaser) September 8, 2020
How About That!
Only the Diamondbacks and Rangers have had worse stretches than the 5-14 record the Yankees have compiled since August 18.
The Yankees and Rays are becoming one of the best rivalries in baseball.
Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly is recovering from a shoulder injury and hopes to pitch in the postseason.
Ex-MLB commissioner Fay Vincent said that he no longer watches baseball and that the game needs to change.
All Puerto Rican MLB players will be allowed to wear number 21 on Wednesday in honor of Roberto Clemente if they choose to.
Through his first 23 big league starts, Diamondbacks righty Zac Gallen had yet to allow more than three earned runs in any of his starts — a big league record. That streak came to an end yesterday.
As baseball enters its home stretch, potential postseason seedings change on an almost daily basis. If the season ended today, the Cubs and Cardinals would match up in the first round of the playoffs.
Who would have guessed that a series between the Giants and Mariners would have possible postseason implications for both teams?
The pesky Marlins are trying to put a dent in the Braves’ NL East lead. The two teams are separated by 3.5 games with six tilts remaining against each other.
Sunday’s Three Stars
- Max Scherzer – The veteran righty stymied the Rays with seven innings of shutout baseball, scattering six hits while striking out eight Tampa Bay batters.
- Kyle Hendricks – The Cardinals just look weak against Hendricks when he faces them at Wrigley Field, and yesterday the Professor was typically brilliant in shutting St. Louis down. It may have been the Cubs’ biggest win of the season.
- Miguel Rojas – The Miami infielder may be the most underrated of the game’s better utility players. Rojas had four hits yesterday, including a game-winning double in extra innings to lead the Marlins to a 5-4 victory over the Braves. Rojas is slashing .375/.470/1.077 in 54 at-bats on the season.
I think we should schedule a formal celebration of sorts for Miguel Amaya.
As Sean Murphy graduates, #Cubs prospect Miguel Amaya enters the Top 100 Prospects list: https://t.co/oVoqFBggR6 pic.twitter.com/KtcsvwFICG
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 8, 2020
They Said It
- “That’s the version of Kyle that I think we’re used to seeing. That’s the guy. Moved the fastball around. I thought he read swings really good tonight. He went in, in the right counts. Really did a nice job of mixing his pitches in and out. I thought he commanded the fastball as good as I’ve seen this year, maybe since his first start. So, yeah, he was really, really spot on.” – David Ross
- “I was aggressive, my timing felt better, fastball command was much better, which is the key. [Victor] Caratini really made me establish the fastball early which helped everything. Changeup feel was better overall and guys [were] making plays behind me, really.” – Kyle Hendricks
Tuesday Walk Up Song
Red Solo Cup by Toby Keith – I hope you all celebrated Labor Day safely and with a favorite beverage or two.