“I’ll tell you just why,
You know I don’t lie, not much:
It’s been said she knocks ’em dead,
When she lands in town!” – Louis Armstrong, Sweet Georgia Brown
By the way, a Louis Armstrong Orchestra video in high definition is a rare and wonderful treat and I urge you to check it out.
Though the Cubs struggled in games against the Pirates the first two weeks of the season, watching the two teams play lately has been like watching the Harlem Globetrotters play the Washington Generals. In other words, it would feel like the strangest of upsets if Pittsburgh beat the North Siders.
Last night’s game was realistically over before sunset as the Cubs posted a three-spot in the 2nd inning that was just too much for the Bucs to overcome. Because of Pittsburgh’s very limited offense, the often-pedestrian Trevor Williams looked almost dominant in leading the Cubs to their ninth victory in 12 games. Williams was magnificent on the mound and at the plate, tossing seven innings of one-run baseball with seven punchouts while going 2-for-3 at the plate.
He’s batting a solid .308 on the season, which begs the rhetorical question: Why isn’t he getting more plate chances than David Bote?
Perhaps it is the starter’s success at the dish that motivated Bote last night, as his two-run home run off of Pirates starter Wil Crowe was really all the offense Chicago needed. The rest of the game was very much uncontested by the Pirates after Bote’s big fly.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 26, 2021
- The Good: With a batting average of .308, Williams is the team’s third-best hitter behind Nico Hoerner (.338) and Kris Bryant (.317). Yes, Facebook followers, I understand the concept of small sample sizes.
- The Bad: Those Ryan Dempster in-game tutorial spots were as fascinating as they were painful to watch. I really don’t know what to think.
- The Ugly: I feel bad for Pirates’ fans. Imagine going into every season just hoping the team doesn’t finish in last place. Pittsburgh deserves much, much better than this.
The Cardinals are off today, so if the Cubs sweep the Pirates they’ll head back to Wrigley Field tied for first in the NL Central.
Cubs News & Notes
- Williams was the MVP of last night’s game.
- The right-handed starter had a perfectly reasonable explanation for his two-hit game: “I blacked out [at the plate] twice.”
- David Ross may be forced to put Bryant back at third base while infielders Matt Duffy and Nico Hoerner recover from injuries. The third baseman hasn’t played his regular position since April 20.
- Bryant and other members of the team’s core intend to make president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer “uncomfortable” as the trade deadline nears.
- The Cubs are playing nearly as well as their 2016 championship team this month, but questions remain as to whether they can keep it up when playing the league’s better teams in June and July. Over the last 21 games, Chicago starters have posted a 3.17 ERA, good for fifth-best in the NL while leading the majors with a 50.6% groundball rate.
- It’s as hard to believe as it is to write, but all of the sudden the Cubs have become one of the more successful organizations when it comes to pitching development.
- The Cubs activated pitcher Shelby Miller from the 10-day IL and then designated him for assignment.
Odds & Sods
Aaaarrrrgh! Into the keelhaul with ye, you bilge-sucking scallywag!
Trevor Williams looks like a Pirate.
Not the team. The profession. pic.twitter.com/pb5oskLthM
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) May 20, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“Don’t it gratify when you see it materialize right in front of your eyes by surprise?” – Van Morrison, Glad Tidings
- Games Played: 48
- Total Plate Appearances: 1,811
- Total Strikeouts: 459
- Strikeout Rate: 25.3%
- Team Batting Average: .240
This team is really percolating at the plate this month and these are all high water marks. Their team batting average is now five points higher than league average, and that strikeout rate almost matches the rest of the NL (24.3%).
How About That!
The White Sox players like to call themselves “the bad kids” because they tend to draw the ire of old-school manager Tony La Russa. Chicago’s upper management seems more intent on embellishing the skipper’s popularity, however.
Major League Baseball has placed Mickey Callaway on the ineligible list through at least the end of the 2022 season following an investigation into the former Mets manager over allegations of sexual harassment and mistreatment of women.
César Prieto, one of Cuba’s top baseball stars, has abandoned his national team while in Florida for a qualifying event for the Olympics.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
MLB is fan-tastic!
Dodgers and Astros fans brawled in Houston last night.
Shenanigans that lead to fisticuffs seem to be the rage in other stadiums, too. A couple of female White Sox and Cardinals fans went at it in the Guaranteed Rate Field bleachers on Monday night.
Oracle Park in San Francisco has had its fair share of bleacher battles n the past, and the stadium will be going to full capacity starting June 25 for the Giants-A’s “Battle of the Bay.”
Nationals Park in Washington D.C. is not yet at full capacity, but that didn’t stop a streaker during a rain delay last night. It has yet to be determined if he intended to storm the capitol in his birthday suit as well.
Donnybrooks aren’t solely the domain of the majors, as the High-A South Bend Cubs got into it with the Fort Wayne Tin Caps earlier in the week. The SB Cubs have since issued a statement condemning the brawl.
The Fort Wayne Tin Caps and South Bend Cubs got in an action-packed brawl tonight pic.twitter.com/TUhAKHueL9
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) May 26, 2021
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Trevor Williams – The Cubs starter is no Shohei Ohtani, but he’s decent enough at the plate and pitched a helluva game last night.
- Taylor Ward – The Angels outfielder plated five runners on a 3-for-5 night that included his fourth home run of the year.
- Tommy Edman – The St. Louis second baseman hit two homers as the Cardinals tripped up the red hot White Sox 4-0.
It’s not often you find Tim McCarver-like analysis on Twitter, but it does happen.
When a player grabs his right hamstring, it's probably his right hamstring. Ruf slammed his helmet at first base and slammed it again in the dugout. He was going to be the primary first baseman with Brandon Belt on the IL. Brutal break. pic.twitter.com/ebSwaWf7uP
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) May 27, 2021
Out of Left Field
The White Sox renamed their lounge in honor of La Russa, a guy who was arrested on suspicion of DUI a little over a year ago. The name previously honored a beloved concessions employee who recently passed away.
They Said It
- “We won the first game [of the Cardinals series], and [Anthony Rizzo] and some of us were all joking around that we’re buyers at the deadline now. And then we lost the next game, and now we’re sellers. And then [Sunday], we’re buyers. Make it uncomfortable. We can’t control what is being said or what any of the front offices do or any of that. But if we do win, it’s going to be hard to make any changes.” – Kris Bryant
- “That’s what I want. I think we’re on the same wavelength. The difficult [call] is simply being in the situation where you’re in between.” – Jed Hoyer
- “It just feels really good in the [clubhouse] right now. And wherever the road goes with everybody, that’s where it goes. But we’re happy every single day that we have everybody together.” – Kyle Hendricks
Thursday Walk Up Song
Mama Told Me Not to Come by Three Dog Night – I seriously want to start a campaign to have all Pirates’ fans choose a new team to follow. Shame on Pittsburgh’s owners for an on-field product that often seems less than major league standards.