The Rundown: Cubs Stop Skid, Offense Ends Slumber, Alzolay Flashes Ace Potential, White Sox Accuse Tigers of Sign Stealing

“I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’till the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong, and he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight.” – Bonnie Tyler, Holding Out for a Hero

Instant Replay

Thank you for stepping up, Adbert Alzolay, and a tip of the cap to the entire Cubs lineup, too. In the Cubs 9-3 win over the Braves, Alzolay looked every bit the part of future ace and the offense awoke from a two-game nap to pound Atlanta’s pitchers. They even stole three bases.

For Alzolay, it was his first career quality start.

Of course, I was watching the NFL draft, so I suppose I owe a debt of gratitude to our own Ryan Dreyer for last night’s game recap and to for replay viewing. David Ross went with a more contact-oriented lineup that included Matt Duffy at third, Kris Bryant in left field, and Nico Hoerner at second base, relegating Ian Happ and David Bote to the bench. Anthony Rizzo was 3-for-6 from the leadoff spot and Jake Marisnick belted a 7th inning homer off of Nate Jones.

Despite that assault, Alzolay was the headliner and the Cubs will head to Cincinnati unfettered of their five-game losing streak. They’ll battle the Reds at 6:10 pm CT tonight with Jake Arrieta (3-2, 2.57 ERA) and Wade Miley (2-2, 2.45 ERA) as the scheduled starters. The key for the Cubs the weekend will be getting to Cincinnati’s atrocious bullpen. White Sox castoff Carson Fulmer has been their only effective reliever.

  • The Good: Alzolay was dominant for the better part of his stint last night, pitching six innings while allowing just two runs. The rookie registered six punchouts.
  • The Bad: Duffy said he was available to pitch if needed, but Ross said Rizzo would be unavailable as his go-to lefty out of the ‘pen. Andrew Chafin filled in admirably.
  • The Filthy: Craig Kimbrel continues to shut opponents down, though he initially looked a little rusty. Going back to last season, he’s yet to allow an earned run in 17 straight appearances.
  • The Extraordinary: Every player in the Cubs lineup had at least one knock, including Alzolay. The team that entered the game batting .203 with a 28.3% strikeout rate raised their batting average 22 points after battering Braves pitchers for 16 hits.

Apropos of Nothing

Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace made a bold move and traded up to get Ohio State QB Justin Fields with the No. 11 pick in last night’s draft. Fields was the second-best signal-caller in the draft according to a number of NFL analysts. I covered the selection over at Bears Insider in my First and Long column. I’ll be there all weekend and probably here, too.

The bigger news is that Aaron Rodgers wants out of Green Bay. Should make for an interesting couple of days.

Cubs News & Notes

Climbing the Ladder

“You’re gonna eat lightning, and you’re gonna crap thunder! They’ll have to put you in a cage, kid” – Mickey, as played by Burgess Meredith, in Rocky II.

  • Games Played: 25
  • Total Plate Appearances: 921
  • Total Strikeouts: 253
  • Strikeout Rate: 27.4%
  • Team Batting Average: .226

Odds & Sods

Someone should ask Rays starter Tyler Glasnow if he kisses his mother with that mouth.

How About That!

Starter Eric Lauer, who was specifically recalled from Milwaukee’s alternate site to face the Dodgers, is now 6-0 lifetime against Los Angeles. Behind the unsung hero, the Brewers beat L.A. 2-1 and lead the NL Central with a 15-10 record.

The Cardinals placed veteran starter Adam Wainwright on the COVID-19 IL. Wainwright has made five starts this season, his 16th with the Cardinals, and has a 4.08 ERA.

If first month trends are any indication, pitching staffs are finally normalizing and stealing a base has become a lost art.

It’s a little early for Festivus, but Iván Rodríguez felt the need to air some grievances, stating that baseball was more fun to watch back in his day. Pudge believes analytics have sucked the joy out of the national pastime. At least he was rational in his explanation, resisting the urge to go full Goose Gossage.

Miguel Cabrera isn’t real happy that the White Sox, specifically rookie second baseman Nick Madrigal, have accused the Tigers of sign-stealing.

The Giants built a rotation from scratch and may have become a juggernaut in the process.

Thursday’s Three Stars

  1. Carlos Rodón – It’s still early, but, believe it or not, the White Sox No. 5 starter is a dark horse Cy Young candidate. He lowered his team-leading ERA to 0.72 by holding the Tigers to one run with 12 strikeouts in six innings of work.
  2. Dylan Cease – The former Cubs farmhand blanked the Tigers over seven innings in the second game of the twinbill, allowing just three hits while striking out nine Detroit batters.
  3. Nico Hoerner – Yes, I’m eating crow. A 2-for-4 night pushed Hoerner’s slash line to .360/.484/1.004 on the season. I’d say he’s legitimately the Cubs’ starting second baseman now.

Extra Innings

If you’d never watched a baseball game and read a story about the exploits of Nolan Ryan, you’d think he was a fictional myth.

They Said It

  • “[Alzolay’s] stuff is unbelievable. I faced him a few times in live ABs and it’s really good. He’s got kind of a chip on his shoulder and a swagger about him and it’s fun to play behind.”Jake Marisnick
  • “His stuff I put it up there with anybody in baseball just the way it moves. Facing him in a live BP right before season started I was thoroughly impressed with the pure stuff. I think when he’s aggressive like he was tonight you see how difficult it is for hitters.”Matt Duffy
  • “It wasn’t [my] best slider, but through the game, I was able to make some adjustments. It was huge for me because at the end I found it. You’ve got to make adjustments pitch by pitch, inning by inning. Even knowing that it wasn’t good at first I never let it go. I was always trying until I found the release point.”Adbert Alzolay

Friday Walk Up Song

Crazy on You by Heart – Alzolay was nasty last night, and I only wish I got to watch it live.

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