“I say my hell is the closet I’m stuck inside can’t see the light, and my heaven is a nice house in the sky.” – Dave Matthews, So Much to Say
Thank goodness for Kyle Hendricks, am I right? The Cubs needed someone to put an end to their three-game skid and their ace was up to the challenge. Hendricks may not be having the greatest of seasons to the untrained eye, but take away his two starts against the Braves and he is one of the best starters in the National League.
- Hendricks vs. Atlanta: 0-2, 7.2 IP, 14 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 17.50 ERA
- Vs. the rest of baseball: 9-2, 73 IP, 23 ER, 14 BB, 60 K, 2.84 ERA
There’s also a loss to the Pirates back on May 9 he’d probably like to forget, too.
Rumors exist that Hendricks was tipping his pitches in both starts against the Braves, but, if he was, he’s certainly put a stop to that since. In last night’s 2-0 win over the Mets, the Professor was as sharp as a straight razor and as meticulous as a neurosurgeon, going six strong innings with seven punchouts against just two hits. That is the very definition of a stopper. The outing marked Hendricks’ seventh straight quality start and seventh straight win (the longest streak of his career).
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 18, 2021
The Cubs’ formula for winning is pretty obvious: Get 5-6 solid innings from their starters with timely hitting up and down the lineup, then turn it over to the bullpen to close it out. However, all three are completely dependent on each other and any single failure of that machination usually results in a loss. With Hendricks, all bets are off and he epitomized that in what may have been his best start of the season.
A two-run jack by Javier Báez (into that big, ugly apple batter’s eye no less), was all the Cubs needed offensively, and a loss by the Brewers in Colorado last night means Chicago will kick off a five-game homestand against the Marlins and Indians with sole possession of first place in the NL Central. The trip to New York was far less than successful with a 1-3 record and some really ugly baseball, but all things considered, the team’s flag flying atop the centerfield scoreboard tonight is all that really matters.
- The Good: Hendricks was locked in and lights out and any other sports euphemism for dominant that you can come up with.
- The Bad: None of the four runners that actually made it to scoring position scored last night. In fact, only 15 runners made it as far as 2nd base all series.
- The Ugly: The Cubs managed just four hits last night, and finished the four-game set with a team batting average of .138 (17-for-123).
Cubs News & Notes
- Hendricks is the ace the team really needs right now.
- Despite the strong effort from his ace last night, David Ross has sent a clear message to Jed Hoyer and the team’s front office that he needs rotation help.
- Hoyer said he wants to add the necessary pieces to this team to boost the club’s playoff chances.
- Adbert Alzolay is hoping he will come off the IL and get a chance to start during the current homestand.
- The league will begin issuing suspensions for the use of illegal substances by pitchers, and Tommy Hottovy refused to speculate how the new ruling may affect the Cubs.
- The Cubs enter tonight’s contest against the Marlins with a six-game winning streak at Wrigley Field. Chicago is 24-10 at home on the season, while Miami is in the midst of a four-game losing streak.
- Stats to watch: The Marlins are 13-25 on the road this year and have a team OBP of just .298. Zach Davies gets the start tonight and this looks like a good matchup for the 28-year-old righty.
Odds & Sods
An apple a day keeps the losses away.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 17, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“To change the world start with one step. However small, the first step is hardest of all.” – Dave Matthews, You Might Die Trying
- Games Played: 69
- Total Plate Appearances: 2,532
- Total Strikeouts: 656
- Strikeout Rate: 25.9%
- Team Batting Average: .229
Apropos of Nothing
The top three venues to see live music in this country are Red Rocks, The Gorge, and Alpine Valley. The best stadium to watch a ballgame is Wrigley Field and I’ll be at the game on Sunday for my first trip to the Friendly Confines in nearly three years.
Apropos of Nothing II
The response to the team’s City Connect jerseys was lukewarm at best, but I hope to pick one up on Sunday. I really love the “Casey at the Bat” motif, if you must know. I wish I could afford the hefty $475 price tag for an authentic, but that’s impossible and I’ll probably max out my credit card just buying the replica.
How About That!
It doesn’t make any sense, nor does it have to, but the Giants are the best team in baseball right now.
Baseball’s newest and strangest curse is following a no-hitter on the road with a club-record road losing streak.
The Yankees completed a 1-3-6-2-5-6 triple play yesterday, the game’s first ever, and it was a sight to behold!
Cleveland’s mascot, Slider, was named the worst among all MLB teams. Interestingly enough, the Brewers’ racing sausages are all tied for wurst.
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Kyle Hendricks – He came up big when he was supposed to and most needed, which makes him the team’s ace and stopper.
- Randy Arozorena – The Rays outfielder had a nifty night, going 3-for-4 with a home run, a stolen base, two runs, and two RBI.
- Curt Casali – The San Francisco backstop had three hits and finished a double shy of the cycle, plated four runs, and hit his first big fly of the year as the Giants extended Arizona’s MLB record road losing streak to 23 games with a 10-3 win over the Diamondbacks.
Today In 1977: Billy Martin & Reggie Jackson almost brawl in the dugout during a nationally televised New York #Yankees vs. Boston #RedSox game at Fenway Park! #MLB #Baseball #History pic.twitter.com/EJJciV6ZNJ
— Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) June 18, 2021
Low and Away
The Bears may have a new stadium in Arlington Heights (eventually), and I’ll have a column over at Bears Insider this weekend regarding that news. Now that I’m a little more mobile, I’ll resume a daily over there starting Monday morning.
They Said It
- “[Hendricks] is the backbone of our rotation. It’s starting to be that ‘Win Day’ where you feel like… you got a really good chance to win when he pitches. Probably not the sharpest we’ve seen him and he doesn’t even give up any runs. Nice, gutsy performance by Kyle there. We needed that.” – David Ross
- “I knew I would come out of [the April struggles]. I’m generally a slow starter. That was the worst I’ve ever had, obviously. But I know for me, once it clicks and it hits, then it’s there. I knew it was going to come; it was just a matter of time. Just had to work on different things until I got that feeling and then it really did set in. I felt it one day and have been able to carry it really ever since. There’s still more in there, just gotta be more consistent with the mental aspect.” – Kyle Hendricks
- “We’re putting ourselves in a great position. Obviously, we’re not going to stand pat. We want to continue to add to this team. We’re gonna keep playing well, I believe, and we’ll add to this team.” – Jed Hoyer
Friday Walk-Up Song
Every Day by the Dave Matthews Band featuring Vusi Mahlasela (Live) – I’m excited that I am finally going to Wrigley Field on Sunday, and there’s no better way to celebrate than with a favorite live jam. Three years has been far too long.