So if you knew in advance that batters 1-4 would go a combined 9-for-11 with 2 homers, you’d feel pretty good about the Cubs chances. And tonight, you’d be right. Quite a few things to feel good about, despite that the rest of the order took an oh-fer. We saw back-to-back jacks, a frustrated Brewers starting pitcher, and the 7th straight quality start by a Cubs starter. Without further introduction, let’s move on to the re-cap.
If You’re Bored Then You’re Boring
So the Javy Danger storyline is not going to go away. In the first inning, Baez had a great at-bat while working the count, and eventually lined a single to right field. You gotta like the kid’s ability to take the ball the other way. Risky/lucky/gray hair inducing baserunning got him to second, and he would eventually score on a Starlin Castro single. Let’s be honest, though. We’ve all been waiting for his first homer at Wrigley, and in the third inning Javy accommodated with a bomb on to Waveland.
Overall, Baez went 2-4 with the single and solo homerun. Beyond that, he worked a couple of counts to 3-2, and did not strike out for the second straight game. We’d all like to see an overall better OBP, but aided by a ridiculous .643 SLG%, Baez has a .902 OPS. He’s kind of a fun one to watch.
Oh Wada Feeling!
Tsuyoshi Wada is boring in a good sort of way. He doesn’t strike a ton of guys out. He doesn’t throw 95mph. You are not dazzled by his stuff. However, he has held hitters at bay with excellent command, he moves the ball inside and out, changes speeds, and has a bit of funky deception. It’s clear why he had so much success with Iowa during the first half of the season. Furthermore, he does little things well. He handles the bat pretty effectively, though he didn’t have an opportunity to lay down a bunt tonight. There’s not a whole lot not to like, except for his age. At 33, it’s hard to imagine Wada being a part of the long-term plan with the Cubs, but he’s certainly earned the right to start for the last two months of 2014. The Brewers finally broke through with two outs in the 7th, but it was an impressive start, going 6.2 innings, allowing 2 earned runs on 5 hits, with 5 strikeouts against only 1 walk. He did this while also giving an excellent facial expression to a homerun allowed.
Everyday Grimmy got the last out of the 7th as Steve Trout prepared for his unique interpretation of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Neil Ramirez gave up a 2-out double in the 8th, but was able to escape unharmed. His velocity is down a little bit, so there is some concern about the righty who is fairly fresh off the DL. Rondon pitched a 1-2-3 9th to close it out.
During my extensive four-minute google search, I could find no relation between Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado and former major league OF Candy Maldonado. Still, the Candy Curse Saga seems to go on, as the Brewers’ catcher played big tonight. He threw out Chris Coghlan on a stolen base attempt, doubled, and homered to chase Wada in the 7th. Candy Maldonado is still a sore subject for me, as his signing was one of the more disappointing Cubs acquisitions during my lifetime (this is saying something). My once-dormant nervous tick returned this evening with every mention of that last name.
Steve and Other Minor Lakes
I don’t think there are many that would have confidently stated that Junior Lake would put up similar numbers as last year. That being said, I don’t think I would have predicted that his season end up where it has. I was surprised that he got the start tonight over Ryan Sweeney, who has seen his average (finally) creep over the .250 mark. The result was 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He has become enough of a non-factor that Arne Harris couldn’t be bothered to keep him on the screen these days.
Joaquin Phoenix IS Starlin Castro IN “I’m Still Here”
So Starlin Castro extended his hitting streak to 12 games with 3 singles (yawn). I know we all love our prospects, but how many teams have a SS hitting .285 with double-digit homeruns and over 60 RBI? Put me squarely in the Keep Castro corner. I think that there is value in loyalty to players (as long as they are producing), and there is no doubt in my mind that it is important to fans to have players that they can follow long-term, particularly if they are developed by the organization.
Three Stars of the Game
#3 - Tsuyoshi Wada - Very effective outing to move his record to 2-1
#2 - Starlin Castro - 3-for-4 with an RBI as he continues to rake in August
#1 - Javier Baez - 2-for-4 with the big blast, but improved approach was most encouraging
Hey, two straight wins against a team in playoff position. I’ll take it. Multiple Ed takes the mound for the Cubs against Mike “Tears for” Fiers for a chance at a series victory.
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