“There are no free rides, no one said it’d be easy. The old man told me this, my son, I’m telling it to you.” – John Mellencamp, Minutes to Memories
The Cubs beat the hated Cardinals 7-5 last night but if I’m being completely honest, I spent the first part of the game monitoring the ERA of Keegan Thompson. He pitched just well enough to get the win but gave up three earned runs in 5.1 innings while doing so. Frank Schwindel, Ian Happ, and Willson Contreras bailed home out with home runs, and Christopher Morel (!) had another good game at leadoff.
Getting one out in the top of the 6th inning kept Thompson’s ERA from swelling to 2.00 or higher, and Chicago’s North Side baseballers now have a three-game winning streak. Even better, they’ve improved to 10-17 at home. If they played as well at The Friendly Confines as they do on the road, these young Cubs would be a .500 team.
Schwindel was the star of last night’s game, finishing with three knocks to put his early-season slump further behind him. It was the first baseman’s ninth multi-hit game of 2022, something he seemed to do with regularity last season after Jed Hoyer scooped him up off the waiver in July.
I was trying to think of a team that most reminds me of the squad that Hoyer and GM Carter Hawkins have put together this year and, believe it or not, it’s the Moneyball A’s from 2002. Statistics will contradict that, especially Oakland’s pitching that season, but Chicago’s lineup last night sported five players with an OBP of .350 or better. If Schwindel, Nico Hoerner, and Nick Madrigal can reach their career norms, coupled with the return of Seiya Suzuki, the Cubs are an entirely different ballclub.
It wouldn’t be a bad thing to see the Cubs go 21-7 in June and top that with a 20-game winning streak in late August. That won’t happen — in fact, it’s almost statistically impossible — but it is fun to dream about. Let’s just keep our focus on getting back to .500 at home. Sweeping the Red Birds would be a wonderful step in that direction.
Cubs News & Notes
- With a 6-0 record, Thompson has entered the conversation of potential All-Star selections.
- Thompson’s warmup routine has set him up for a successful transition to the starting rotation.
- Morel’s exuberance almost seems to be willing the Cubs to a more competitive brand of baseball.
- Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports calls Morel the “human emoji.” I like it.
- Contreras has been on fire, and last night’s blast was his ninth of the season.
- Alec Mills is a big fan of Caleb Kilian and couldn’t stop himself from praising the young righty. Kilian has been mentioned as the top option to pitch one of the games in Saturday’s doubleheader. That announcement could come this morning.
- Mills is eyeing a return from a rehab stretch at Iowa and he could be an option, too.
- Old friend Robel García has been tearing the cover off the ball at Triple-A Iowa.
- Third base coach Willie Harris believes he’s ready to manage a big-league team.
- Announcer Boog Sciambi is a big supporter of ALS, and he sported a t-shirt during last night’s game designed by and available from Obvious Shirts. Proceeds of its sales support Project Main St.
Odds & Sods
All 4-homer games in MLB since 1901.
I have a feeling Scooter Gennett is going to stick out as an aberration for a long time to come. pic.twitter.com/MZxpbnhplc
— High Heat Stats (@HighHeatStats) April 28, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“Then I look at you and the world’s alright with me.” – Bill Withers, Lovely Day
With a hit and a walk last night, Willson Contreras raised his OBP to .401. Clint Frazier has been sneaking up on us lately, too. He’s reached base in eight of his last 10 plate appearances and is now slashing .245/.405/.750 with a 123 wRC+. The Cubs struck out twice last night and have gone down on strikes just six times in the last two games.
- Games Played: 51
- Total Plate Appearances: 1,918
- Total Strikeouts: 451
- Strikeout Rate: 23.51%
- Team Batting Average: .239
How About That!
The Angels have the best chances of getting into the playoffs among the six teams who haven’t reached the postseason since at least 2015.
Most MLB franchises are hosting Pride Nights this month. The Cubs will honor the LGBTQ+ community on June 18 and again on September 18.
The Red Sox are officially the first team to offer in-market streaming to their fans.
Baseball wants to empower offenses and curb pitching dominance, and reducing staffs to a maximum of 13 pitchers is one attempt to do so.
MLB players are becoming frustrated with “bad baseballs.”
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Jameson Taillon – The Yankees starter was perfect through seven, and had just retired Ohtani and Mike Trout before Jared Walsh ended his bid for baseball immortality. Taillon still got the win over the Angels, improving to 6-1 on the season with a 2.30 ERA.
- Graham Ashcraft – Reds fans don’t have a lot to cheer about, but the rookie starter provides hope for a better tomorrow. Ashcraft lowered his ERA to 1.53 by shutting out the Giants over seven innings with five punchouts.
- Schwindel – A three-hit game with a tater and two ribeyes is worthy of inclusion among yesterday’s esteemed performances.
Supporting awareness for ALS one t-shirt at a time. Lou Gehrig probably would have loved Joe. Here’s to finding a cure.
— OBVIOUS SHIRTS® (@obvious_shirts) June 3, 2022
Friday Morning Six-Pack
- If you didn’t like him before, you’re probably not too happy that LeBron James is now officially a billionaire, a club of former NBA players previously exclusive to Michael Jordan.
- Bears players and coaches say that second-year quarterback Justin Fields is supremely confident right now. We’re still about seven weeks from contact practices, however.
- Spoiler Alert: In trying to figure out how Stranger Things 4 might end, I picked up on some verbally abusive tendencies by Mr. Wheeler, and if the death of cheerleader Chrissy Cunningham is some type of foreshadowing, I genuinely fear for little Emily Wheeler.
- Speaking of Netflix, Happy Gilmore and the Rob Reiner-produced, Stephen King-penned Stand By Me are just two of the classics that will be leaving the streaming service at the end of June.
- The coming-of-age flick by Reiner is one of the best about youth and friendship, second only to The Sandlot.
- Kudos to daily contributor Torque for introducing me to The Mighty Diamonds in the comments section of yesterday’s Rundown.
They Said It
- “[Morel] has been coming through for us for a while now in a lot of different ways. He’s one of those guys you just can’t wait until he gets back up. The top of the lineup turns over and he’s that spark.” – David Ross
- “It’s infectious when you have a guy that brings positive energy, and a smile on his face every single day. It permeates everyone in that clubhouse. Everyone picks up and feeds off his energy.”– Kyle Hendricks
Friday Walk-Up Song
I Was a Teenage Werewolf by The Cramps – Yes, I’m truly loving the Cubs’ youth movement.