So long Lonely Avenue. Cubs 6 Pirates 3.

So long Lonely Avenue. Cubs 6 Pirates 3.

Today's answer is 5. Starlin Castro and Anthony "The Bear" Rizzo combined for 5 RBI in helping the Cubs defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-3 today. When the Cubs win, the answer is usually a crooked number. Today it was 5.  And it all happened in the third. Bases loaded when Anthony Rizzo came up. Pirate starter Charlie Morton peppered the plate with off speed pitches, Rizzo fought them off, saw the one weak fastball wasted in the dirt before cranking on a mediocre curve ball into the right field corner. two runs would score. Morton would try more off speed stuff on Castro who deposited the second curve ball into the left field stands. Charlie Morton would stop throwing weak curve balls soon after that. But it was 5-0 and the game was essentially over. Let's all go over to Metro and rock out!!!!!

GOOD GOD Y'ALL!!!!!!!!

Edwin Jackson was a pale shade of OK today- going 5 innings and allowing 5 hits and 3 runs. What makes it all infuriating was the 8 K's- Jax had the stuff to keep the Pirates down and go further into the game. He simply didn't. But not Jackson's worst performance. Duck Dynasty and Wesley Wright in the 6th, The Regular Ramirez in the 7th, Vote for Pedro in the 8th, and Hector Rondon were all nails in putting up clean sheets for the last four innings.

TURN YOUR HEAD AND COGHLAN

Nice game out of Chris Coghlan today. Set up Anthony Rizzo in the 3rd by drawing a 7 pitch walk after going down 0-2. Granted Morton might have been flustered by letting Jackson get a hit, having two runners on base and the possibility of facing Rizzo with the bags packed. But it was Coghlan's responsibility to get on base and he did. He also homered in the 5th. Nice job.

THE JOY OF YOUTH

Pittsburgh is still aglow over the arrival of of their young phenom Gregory Polanco, who extended his hit streak to 10 games. The Pirates are 5-5 in those ten games, so it's hard to say what kind of impact he's really had. Al he's brought, with the exception of his talent and his hit streak, is a lot of noise. So when Bryant hits 3 home runs this weekend, and you know he will, before you howl for him to come up to the majors, look at Pittsburgh. Hopefully, Epstoyer take the offseason to get the house Bryant and Baez ready….

Love starting the weekend off on a win. Especially over an opponent that's had our number. An odd one tomorrow as the Cubs have a FOX mandated Saturday night game. Vance Worley takes on Travis Wood, whose coming off one of his best starts ever. Keep it rolling boys. Onwards.

Boxscore

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  • Defense. Don't forget the defense!

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    70 or more wins would be nice. Let's see what happens by the end of July.

  • At the cougars game, Kyle just hit a bomb to dead centerfield, it went over the highest part of the wall. He wont spend much time here either

  • Schwarber! He has some serious mojo going

  • uh check out the Iowa game AA and Javy are going all kinds of stupid AA 2-2 with 2 BBs , Javy 3-3 4 RBIs and its only 6th inning . Bryant quiet so far .

  • oh and Hendricks with 4 no hit inning so far top of 5

  • Wow. Man its great to see a Cubs bullpen protecting leads and not trying to take the team down from the inside. I was convinced in April (and the past 2 seasons) that moles had infiltrated our bullpen.

  • Hendricks thru 5 perfect so far , correction AA 2-2 w 1 bb so far . Hendricks has scored 2 runs too era 3.56 , serious rumbling in Iowa for call ups . its getting close.

  • Hendricks is definitely dialed in thus far. 53 pitches through 5.

  • Nice win. I like watching Castro and rizzo going back and forth. Kind like anything u can do. I can do better. In a good way.

    What is gonna happen to Olt??
    Hope Baez gets better pitches since Bryant is there.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I actually hope that the pitches Baez sees aren't affected by Bryant's arrival. He needs to develop the ability to lay off the stuff he can't drive, make the pitchers come to him and pick his spots. I think that's why we saw Valaika hit behind him last night and Vitters tonight. At least I hope that's why.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    True but every hitter needs help or protection.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Not the elite ones. They provide the protection for the others around him. Baez has the ability to be special, but he needs to develop the approach at the plate to get him there. He needs to recognize which pitches will be in his hitting zones. Without that, his best tool, his elite bat speed will be somewhat wasted.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    How many guys are labeled as "elite". I would think it would be a calming effect to know that Bryant is behind me. And maybe that will help him willing to lay off that pitch. Also just the type of swag that Baez has... I have to believe he really wants to be the first one called up.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I don't want Baez to be calmed by exterior circumstances. I want him to learn to settle in and develop his approach on his own. When he does that, I believe he can make the most of his elite bat speed and be special.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I wonder if they are ant old Ted Williams videos out there. Part of the reason Williams was such a great hitter is he refused to swing at bad pitches, absolutely made pitchers come to him.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I don't know that Baez seeing bad pitches will help him only swing at good ones. Sometimes players need to simply their approach, so, instead of determining what not to hit, maybe he would be well served to focus on what he does need to hit. I think a measured aggressive approach may be best for him, similar to what we are seeing from Castro this year.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    "instead of determining what not to hit, maybe he would be well served to focus on what he does need to hit"

    Same thing. Flip side of the same coin. Can't do one without the other.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Pitchers have been getting him out the same way, they'll continue to get him out the same way until he adjusts.

    Throwing him fastballs only plays to his strength. They know he's going to chase junk. He's going to continue to send him junk until he can adjust. This won't be an issue.

  • In reply to Chrissy T:

    ^^^***He's going to continue to see junk***^^^

  • In reply to Chrissy T:

    One would hope. But Bryant comes with some excellent cred. Pitchers might think twice risking walking Baez in front of him. If AAA pitchers have initial success against Bryant, then maybe having Baez in front of him won't affect whether or not the give him something to hit.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    The blueprint to get Baez out is to throw breaking stuff. It's counter productive to throw him fastballs (his strength) to try to get him out.

    Baez has a low walk rate and high strikeout rate with the way they've been pitching him so it makes no sense to change it.

  • In reply to Chrissy T:

    I hear you, and that's exactly what I hope opposing pitchers will continue to do.

    But it makes no sense for Baez's development to give pitchers any reason not to risk walking him? Why give opposing pitchers any moment of pause when it gets to 3-1 or 3-2 to come into him? Those are the exact moments that he needs to learn patience. I want pitchers to continue to throw off the plate in those situations. Having the team's (potentially) most feared and best hitter hitting behind only makes that less likely. Why risk that happening?

    But I hear you, you're saying there is no risk. I disagree.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    When did I say there was no risk???

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I'm sorry. I must've misinterpreted what you were saying. I took what you were writing as advocating for it didn't matter who hit behind Baez and that having Bryant there wouldn't affect how Javy would be pitched.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    No problem. Apology accepted.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    From the Grantland baseball dictionary written by Jonah Keri of Baseball Tonight fame.

    "lineup protection (n.) — the idea that hitters perform better when good hitters hit immediately behind them than otherwise. The concept has been studied multiple times. It has been found to be a myth."

    http://www.sabernomics.com/sabernomics/index.php/2004/09/the-protection-externality-it-doesnt-exist/

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Hmm...didn't post the first time, let's try again.

    http://grantland.com/features/jonah-keri-baseball-grantland-dictionary/

    "lineup protection (n.) — the idea that hitters perform better when good hitters hit immediately behind them than otherwise. The concept has been studied multiple times. It has been found to be a myth."

    http://www.sabernomics.com/sabernomics/index.php/2004/09/the-protection-externality-it-doesnt-exist/

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    In reply to Quedub:

    He looked very good tonight. Put up consistently good at bats and even went the other way for a single. He's adjusting.

    Ironically the one who looks like he's pressing is Bryant.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I know. Baez did great tonight. And he did it without anyone behind him scaring the pitcher into throwing him strikes.

    I was really pleased to see Bryant get promoted because of all the issues that come with it. An opportunity to press and have that affect him, veteran pitchers who pitch backwards and with better breaking stuff. I agree more than ever with the FO's idea of having a full season at AAA. I expect Bryant to struggle at first, at least a little bit.

  • Schwarber continues to treat A ball as his plaything: 2-3, a double and HR.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    He was behind the plate. no errors , no stolen bases.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    If Schwarber keeps this up, we could see him promoted again in a few weeks, Kane County's playoffs situation be damned.

    Yes, there's value in having him be a part of a winning team and experience playoff pressure, but he doesn't strike me as a guy who would benefit from that as much as most prospects. Confidence and expecting to win aren't issues for him.

    I think it would be more important to his development for him to face a level of pitching he hasn't seen yet. Plus seeing how he does at High-A will help the Cubs evaluate whether or not to start him at AA next season. If he needs to start next season at Daytona, so be it, but obviously Schwarber starting next year in AA puts him on track to reach the bigs in June of 2016 at the very earliest/best case scenario, and , in the end, this is all about winning games at the major league level. He needs to prove he's ready and develop the skills to handle big league pitching, and he can only do that in AA and AAA. The pitching in the lower levels isn't that much better than the NCAA.

    He's got to continue to mash MWL pitching first, but if he does, getting to the pitching friendly FSL and seeing how he does is the top priority.

  • Nice win, I was encouraged by the game by Coghlin, they should have brought him home in the first too.

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    can minor league free agents receive bonuses or are all contracts the same.

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    In reply to Jim Pedigo:

    Yes they can receive bonuses and higher salaries that can exceed a league's minimum.

  • Where and how is Manny doing?

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    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    He's in Arizona. Apparently they have him working with Soler there.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    It was nice that Eloy and Gleyber got a chance to be around him also. Excited for Mesa's first game tomorrow.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm a fan of that.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Why is it taken Manny so long to get to Iowa? Wasn't he hired to be more of a coach and less of a player? I thought everyone wanted him to mentor some if Iowa kids.

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    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Unclear. I just assume there's a reason I'm not privy to.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Thanks.... Just seems like it has taken awhile to get him to Iowa.

  • Renteria deserves some credit

  • As I - and many of us around here - have gotten fond of saying (and seeing) - this Cubs team is really getting to be fun to watch.

    I just hope that when/if the veterans like Shark start to be sold off - that the team chemistry and personality doesn't go out the window with them.

  • Did anyone else notice the drop in velocity of Ramirez's fastball tonight. He was consistently 92-93. Normally he's 95-97, isn't he?

    I don't think he's been overused. He hadn't pitched since the 15th according to cubs.com. Could mean nothing and just one of those things...

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I didn't really think he had his best stuff, either. Felzz seems to indicate that the pen was lockdown, but I think there were some nervous moments in the 6th and 7th.

    For the moment, I will chalk it up to one of those days, but it bears watching. Just like Rondon's "tender elbow" JD mentioned when Rondon pitched the 9th.

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    In reply to Quedub:

    Actually, no. His average four-seam fastball velocity on the season is 94.5 mph. Today it was 95.1.

    http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/pfx.php?month=6&day=20&year=2014&game=gid_2014_06_20_pitmlb_chnmlb_1%2F&pitchSel=519166&prevGame=gid_2014_06_20_pitmlb_chnmlb_1%2F&prevDate=620&league=mlb

    Perhaps it seemed down because 2/3rds of his fastballs were two seamers, which averaged only 93.7 mph.

  • In reply to Jason Pellettiere:

    That's got to be it. Every time I looked, which was almost every pitch, it was 92-93. Maybe the WGN gun was a tick slow as well. Thanks for the research, Jason!

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I think Ramirez didnt expect to come into the game that early, so he likely didnt warm up sufficiently . OTOH, Im sure Andrew McCutcheon would have been glad to see someone else other than Ramirez.

  • Cubs record by month:

    April 9-17
    May 10-16
    June 11-7

    Is this improvement or meaningless variance?

  • In reply to Quedub:

    IIRC, the Cubs had a decent, albeit short, stretch each of the past two years in late June/early July. This good stretch started earlier and has lasted longer.

  • Good question. I think the record of Cubs' opponents has been worse the past 6 weeks or so than the first 6 or so weeks, but they have also been on the road more. I think the eye test leans toward the former (improvement). Run differential always suggested they were better than their record.

    Regardless, what is encouraging is that one sees the pieces coming together.

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