“What’s that funky noise? It’s the tightening of the screws. Sitting in the dirt, feeling kind of hurt.” – The Rolling Stones, Doom & Gloom
There is no other way to put it except that last night’s loss to the Diamondbacks was crushing. I’m rarely the doomsayer type, but I knew it was game over when Justin Steele gave up a three-run homer to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in the 1st. The Cubs entered the 9th inning down 6-0 and got four runs, so maybe that bodes well for the team’s recently stagnant offense. Then again, the Cubs couldn’t score off of Brandon Pfaadt, who started the game with a thick 6.25 ERA and a WHIP that hovered near 1.45.
The implications of Friday’s loss are significant. The Brewers won, so David Ross can start writing his concession speech. Milwaukee might also have the pleasure of knocking the Cubs out of playoff contention at month’s end, a double whammy if one ever existed. The Phillies also won, plus the Marlins and Reds gained ground on the North Siders.
The worst part about last night’s loss is that Chicago started its best pitcher against Arizona’s worst. Steele got TKO’d, giving up six runs in seven innings, including another three-run blast to the overrated Alek Thomas. The Diamondbacks are now one win away from clinching the season series and the tiebreaker advantage that comes with it.
Kyle Hendricks takes the bump tonight opposite Zach Davies, then Jordan Wicks gets Ryne Nelson to close out the series. The Cubs need to get their offense out of neutral or Davies and Nelson are going to look like Clayton Kershaw and Corbin Burnes.
Cubs News & Notes
- Evan Altman isn’t very happy about the way the Cubs have been playing lately.
- Chicago’s playoff odds are diminishing significantly, but they’re still strong.
- Steele’s struggles last night were completely off-brand for the reliable starter.
- Dansby Swanson has been exactly what the Cubs wanted and paid for.
- Hendricks has pitched so well that the Cubs are likely to pick up his option this winter.
- The success of Chicago’s rookie starters and strong efforts from the bullpen in the absence of Adbert Alzolay will determine if the Cubs can get into the playoffs.
- The Cubs activated pitcher Marcus Stroman before yesterday’s game and optioned Daniel Palencia to Iowa.
- Stroman will pitch out of the bullpen while he increases his workload. He tossed two innings last night.
- Wicks has remained surprisingly calm ($) while pitching in the middle of a very heated playoff race.
- The Myrtle Beach Pelicans lost their playoff game 18-4 to the Charleston RiverDogs and their season is now over.
- Nisei Lounge, a wildly popular bar near Wrigley Field, was targeted by burglars early Friday Morning.
Odds & Sods
Shohei Ohtani’s locker has been cleared out. There’s a bag that’s packed.
The Angels have declined to say tonight why this is happening or what it means.
— Sam Blum (@SamBlum3) September 16, 2023
- Milwaukee (83-64): The Brewers have added a Northwestern Mutual patch to their jerseys and will partner with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to combat childhood cancer.
- Cincinnati (77-72): The Reds have had to make some difficult lineup decisions while fighting for a playoff berth. Rookie sensation Elly De La Cruz was benched last night for the second time in three games.
- Pittsburgh (69-79): Ryan Borucki has become a key piece of the Pirates bullpen, and he’s stayed under the radar while doing so.
- St. Louis (65-82): Minor league starter Tekoah Roby, who was acquired with Thomas Saggese and John King from the Rangers for Jordan Montgomery and Chris Stratton, appears to be a budding ace.
- The Dodgers won and are 12 games ahead of Chicago for the No. 2 seed. LA remains 6.5 games ahead of Milwaukee, who beat the Nationals 5-3. Their magic number to win the AL West is 2.
- The Cubs now trail the Brewers by 5.5 games in the NL Central but are six behind in the loss column. Milwaukee’s magic number to clinch the NL Central is 10 and it is 7 to clinch a playoff berth.
- The Phillies beat the Cardinals 5-4 and hold the top Wild Card spot, 2.5 games ahead of the Cubs.
- The Reds and Diamondbacks are 1.5 games behind Chicago. The Reds hold the tiebreaker because they won the season series 4-3.
- The Giants lost and dropped out of the WC3 spot, and they were surpassed by the Marlins, who won and are now a half-game out of the final berth.
- If the season ended today, the Braves and Dodgers would have first-round byes, the Reds would play a best-of-three series at Milwaukee, and the Cubs would travel to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies.
Climbing the Ladder
“I tried so hard and got so far, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter.” – Linkin Park, The End
Ian Happ, Christopher Morel, and Seiya Suzuki hit garbage-time home runs in the 9th inning. Yan Gomes was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and Swanson was also hitless. The Cubs did not advance a single runner to second base in last night’s game until the homers. Stroman looked good in relief, pitching two scoreless innings with three strikeouts.
The Cubs are now 7-8 in September, and the month is not playing out the way we all hoped it would. With 14 games left, Chicago’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot is 13.
- Games Played: 148
- Record: 78-70 (.527)
- Total Plate Appearances: 5,652
- Total Strikeouts: 1,279
- Strikeout Rate: 22.63%
- Team Batting Average: .254
- Runs Scored: 741
- Runs Allowed: 650
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 78.3%, 3.3% to win the World Series
How About That!
Ohtani was spotted in Japan after clearing out his Angels locker, which makes total sense since he’s done for the year.
Peter Gammons believes Ohtani and the Red Sox have mutual interest, though it seems odd that Boston would say anything about a player still under contract. Gammons is basing that on a National League source and Ohtani’s endorsement deal with New Balance, which is based in Massachusetts.
Ángel Hernández was put on blast for a performance that was the worst in the last five years of umpiring.
Friday’s Three Stars
- Royce Lewis – The slugging Twins rookie belted his fourth grand slam of the season and fifth of his career in a 10-2 win over the White Sox.
- Lucas Giolito – The veteran righty has struggled while playing for three teams this season, but pitched seven innings of two-hit baseball with 12 strikeouts in the Guardians’ 12-3 win over the Rangers.
- Josh Naylor – Cleveland’s big first baseman was 4-for-5 with three RBI last night.
Too little, too late.
We want More(l)! pic.twitter.com/uMlCd9F481
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 16, 2023
Saturday Morning Six-Pack
- Our own Sean Holland previewed the upcoming Bears-Buccaneers game and believes the Monsters of the Midway are poised to improve over last week’s depressing loss to the Packers.
- The world’s largest beer festival, Oktoberfest, begins today in Munich. As usual, celebrate accordingly and queue the AC/DC.
- You can get some of the best Oktoberfest beers right here at home if you are unable to make the trip to Germany.
- A psychedelic drug familiar to Tomorrowland attendees could be an effective treatment for PTSD, according to research published in Nature Medicine this week. Didn’t we use a similar drug for psychological warfare testing in the 1960s? One flew East, one flew West, and one flew over…
- Being anti-vaccine made Drea de Matteo such a pariah in Hollywood she was all but forced to join OnlyFans to support her family. She has 17 risqué photographs and 26,000 followers, which should buy a lot of groceries.
- Ann Wilson of Heart, who sometimes covers Led Zeppelin in her side project known as The Lovemongers, cringes whenever someone covers a Beatles song.
They Said It
- “I had a pretty good feel for understanding in-game adjustments. A lot of what the [Cubs organization] did was I didn’t have a real understanding of pitch shapes and analytics and what plays where, as far as my stuff. One thing the org did a really good job of — as well as teaching me how to properly throw a curveball, a slider, all that sort of stuff — was [explaining] where my stuff plays and what zones to be more aware of. They did a lot of really good work in that area.” – Wicks
- “[Stroman] will be in the bullpen for now. I don’t know that he’s got the pitch count yet to give us real length from a starting role, but those things can change. He’s able to give us some competition and some length.” – Ross
Saturday Walk-Off Song
The Cubs need to find the lumber, and they can’t wait any longer.