“I know you’re looking for a ruby in a mountain of rocks.” – Meat Loaf, Two out of Three Ain’t Bad
I don’t suppose it warrants a ticker-tape parade and a Grant Park rally with a million or more fans attending, but the Cubs beat the Padres 7-5 yesterday and took the three-game series, the team’s first since Opening Weekend.
Hey, ma – the meatloaf! We want it now!
The key to the win was timely hitting and pitching, especially by Scott Effross, who by all rights should have been credited with six outs in one of the most dominating yet unlucky innings pitched in the majors this year. At the plate, the Cubs were 5-for-11 with runners in scoring position, none bigger than a tie-breaking two-run single by Alfonso Rivas in the top of the 8th inning. Just like that, Chicago took two of three from a team that probably should have swept them.
“We’re going through some tough patches as a team so coming here and taking the series from a pretty good club, it’s awesome,” Rivas said after the game. “It feels good. I think we’ve turned the page, giving us confidence for the next series.”
Keegan Thompson started for the North Siders, pitched decently in four innings of work, and deserves another chance at starting. He, Effross, and David Robertson have been Chicago’s most consistent pitchers through 30 games. Robertson is currently unavailable, so Rowan Wick earned the save by getting the final six outs.
The Cubs are off today before playing the Diamondbacks this weekend. They’ve yet to have a winning road trip and can pop the cork on that bottle of champagne by taking two of three in Arizona. Chicago did split six games with the Pirates and Rockies in an oddly scheduled swing that took them from Pittsburgh to Colorado without a travel day.
Cubs News & Notes
- Injuries are piling up at such a rapid pace that it almost seems like the Cubs are cursed. Nico Hoerner is the latest to join the list of infirmed players that also includes Seiya Suzuki. Both players have ankle injuries, but Hoerner’s occurred in a bizarre collision with an umpire.
- This has been a crazy week for Chicago’s roster.
- Cubs players weighed in on the alleged dead ball that MLB is using this year.
- In a wonderful piece by Jayson Stark of The Athletic, Kyle Schwarber, Javier Báez, and Anthony Rizzo opened up about playing together and helping to drive the best era of Cubs baseball (subscription required).
- Willson Contreras is on fire. The soon-to-be-free-agent catcher belted another home run yesterday.
- The Cubs farm system affiliates are equally hot lately.
- Apparently, pitching a combined no-hitter has become de rigeuer in the Cubs’ farm system. Peyton Remy, Danis Correa, and Eury Ramos accomplished the feat for Double-A Tennessee on Wednesday.
- The latest mock draft by Jim Callis of MLB.com has the Cubs selecting second baseman Temarr Johnson with the No. 7 overall pick. Johnson is said to have the “best high school hitting tool in decades.”
- An aggregate of Johnson’s scouting reports indicates the high school phenom could go as high as No. 1 to the Pirates.
Odds & Sods
He was only 1-for-4 yesterday, but that one hit could be a slump buster for Frank Schwindel.
Frank Schwindel's ball in the 9th inning last night: 102.5 mph with a launch angle of 33 degrees.
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) May 11, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“High or low, where’d you go? Are you stuck in the middle, a spectral invisible ghost?” – Pearl Jam, Comes Then Goes
In a season marred by inconsistency, two constants stand out: Contreras, who is listed among baseball’s most likely trade candidates, is driving every pitch he makes contact with and Patrick Wisdom is exactly the same player he was last season. I do believe Schwindel is about to break out, however.
- Games Played: 30
- Total Plate Appearances: 1,103
- Total Strikeouts: 268
- Strikeout Rate: 24.29%
- Team Batting Average: .237
How About That!
Minnesota reliever Yennier Cano is now listed in the record books with one appearance despite not throwing a single pitch. The rookie took the mound yesterday, warmed up, and then the game was suspended due to rain with the Astros leading the Twins 5-1.
Eleven days earlier, five Mets pitchers combined for the first no-hitter in MLB this season and the second in franchise history.
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Christian Yelich – A 4-for-5 night with three RBI for the Milwaukee right fielder while hitting for the cycle wasn’t enough to lift the Brewers over the Reds. Milwaukee’s bullpen imploded in spectacular fashion, a rare occurrence that gave Cincinnati the 14-11 win. Yelich now has three career cycles, one of six MLB players to accomplish that feat.
- Gleyber Torres – The Yankees infielder plated all five runners in New York’s 5-3 victory over the Blue Jays.
- Whit Merrifield – Kansas City’s do-it-all UT was 3-for-4 with a home run, a stolen base, and scored four times after entering the game as the league’s worst hitter with a 0 wRC+. By the way, the Royals have played 72 games below .500 since Merrifield signed his extension (when he had maximum trade value).
A magician never reveals his secret, and in the case of this pitch by Effross, we probably don’t really want to know anyway.
So, WTF is this sorcery? 😳 pic.twitter.com/HvInznHn9y
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 11, 2022
A Six-Pack for Your Sorrows
- The iPod has finally gone the way of cassettes and vinyl singles, but there are MP3 alternatives (unless you’re still rocking CDs and a Sony Disc Man like I am).
- If you really want to go back to the future and relive the time when Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On a Prayer dominated the airwaves, Blaupunkt is selling a retro-designed in-dash Bremen SQR 46 stereo for your car that comes with all the modern creature comforts.
- While Wednesday’s inflation report showed price increases easing a bit from last month’s 40-year high, food prices were up for the 17th month in a row. I love Nutter Butters, and I’ve watched the price of a single sleeve of the peanut butter cookies rise from 99-cents to $3.99 locally since the start of the pandemic.
- North Korea confirmed its first COVID-19 outbreak on Thursday, calling it the “gravest national emergency” and ordering a national lockdown, with state media reporting an Omicron variant had been detected in the capital city Pyongyang.
- Andy Warhol’s “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” sold for a cool $195 million on Monday, making the iconic portrait of Marilyn Monroe the most expensive work by a U.S. artist ever sold at auction.
- Wednesday’s Celtics-Bucks tilt was easily the most exciting game of this season’s NBA playoffs, and thanks to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday, the Bucks regained their home-court advantage.
They Said It
I’m not one to pine for the former core, but every once in a while, I can’t help thinking about the 2015 Cubs-Cardinals playoff tilt that marked Chicago’s arrival as a baseball powerhouse. Before the night was over, the team’s 1-2-3-4-5-6 hitters had all homered.
- “It wasn’t a shocker to us, just because we knew the group in there. We knew what we had, and we knew what we were capable of. And I think just the whole demeanor of the group was: Let’s just go play, and don’t be overtaken by the moment. I think that’s the common thing you’ll get from everyone, is that we’re all family from what we did [in Chicago].” – Schwarber
- “The way I was looking at it by that time was, it doesn’t matter who we were playing. We weren’t afraid of them. And it was kind of like, ‘We give you guys permission to score, because we’re gonna score anyways.’ That was the feeling that we had in ’15 and ’16. And the way everybody was so together and everybody liked being around each other, it didn’t matter who it is, where you were from, what language you speak. It was kind of that connection.” – Báez
- “I was convinced we were winning the World Series — that year.” – Rizzo
Thursday Walk-Up Song
Love is All Around by Wet Wet Wet