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It's a Fiesta Forever...in Hell! Mets 3, Cubs 2

It's a Fiesta Forever...in Hell! Mets 3, Cubs 2

(Author's Note: Between the time the game ended and I finished and posted this article, the Cubs announced that Junior Lake will be optioned to Iowa to make room for Dan Straily.  I'm sure that John will have something to say about this later on.  I personally wish this had happened around the All Star Break before complet frustration had set in for Lake.  Hopefully he can find a bit of himself that saw him perform pretty well last season.  I'm not sure what his future with the Cubs is, but I always wish guys well.)

So I'm going to have to apologize for the negativity in advance. This was the type of game that wears on me, even when I remember that this is a young team, with a few guys trying to adjust to Major League Baseball. Still, it was a winnable game against a mediocre team, and the majority of runs allowed could easily have been preventable. Let's get down to business.

The Cubs took a 2-run lead in the third with a walk, a couple of hits, and some aggressive base running. Somewhat ironically, it was pitcher Travis Wood who was the key to the inning. He led off with a walk, and advanced to third on a hard-hit single by Javier Baez. The aggressive play allowed Baez to advance to second on a throw to third base. This was key, as Anthony Rizzo grounded out to second. It drove Wood home, and Baez went to third on what might have otherwise been a double-play ball (had Wood not have advanced to third). Starlin Castro knocked in Baez with a two-out single.

Intermission

When games are slow, you find entertainment where you can. Tonight my entertainment came via a text conversation with my sister. With her work schedule, and only access to live Cubs baseball being WGN TV, it was a rare occasion for her or watch the game. Around the fifth inning, I received this text:

"Other than Spangles ads, I don't think any commercial has made me less inclined to try a product than the                                                             Lionel Ritchie-invoking Bud Light Lime-a-Rita spot."

It is a truly awful ad, and WGN is terrible about replaying ads, often at each half-inning break. I doubt that it was played as much as the epic 16-inning game of a few weeks ago, but when the Cubs aren't playing well, it is an easy target for vitriol.

Note: Spangles is a Kansas thing. If you've never seen/heard one of their ads, consider yourself #blessed.

Don't You Know How Much I Hate Losing to the Mets?
Travis Wood was done in by the same issue he has struggled with for the majority of the season: command. He left pitches up, which resulted in a high percentage of fly balls. Still, it seemed as though he might be able to pitch around the issue. He escaped the first three innings unscathed despite control issues. Unfortunately, the lack of command led to back-to-back walks to start the 4th inning. One out later, Eric Campbell deposited a ball into the left field seats to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. It was all they would need. Wood's night ended having thrown 5.1 innings, allowing 3 earned runs on only 4 hits. The major issue was 4 walks against 5 strikeouts.

The bullpen did fine, as Everyday Grimmy got out of the sixth with a routine 9-3-2 double play. Rock n' Roll McDonalds Wesley Wright wiggled out of a jam with the help of a routine 7-5 double play, and Pedro Strop pitched a scoreless 9th.

Three Stars of the Game
#3 - Welington Castillo - it was difficult for me to find a Cub for this honor. I suppose you could go with Castro for his 2 hits, RBI, and extending the hit streak to 14 games. However, I'm going to go with Castillo who toughed out a rough game. His hitting line may not look too impressive at 1-for-2 with a BB and HBP, but he displayed about the best approach of anybody on a team that struck out 14 times. He also took a foul ball off the shoulder behind the plate. Sometimes catching is a thankless job.

#2 - Eric Campbell - 1-for-3 with a BB and all three runs batted in for the Mets

#1 - Zack Wheeler - Wheeler threw 6.2 innings, allowing 2 earned runs on 4 hits. He struggled with his command as well, but a 95+ mph fastball combined with a pretty solid breaking ball was good enough to strike out 10 Cubs

One nice thing about baseball is that there is usually a game the next day. I'm looking forward to Dan Straily's Cub debut, as he's been pretty impressive the last three time out for Iowa. He will face lefty Jon Niese.

Onwards...

 

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  • Perfect take on the vomit-inducing Lima-rita commercial, SU. My wife grabs the remote as soon as that lame-ass ad comes on.

    At this point in the season it might be better to bitch about commercials than another swing-and-a-miss night by our beloved pin-striped heroes.

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    For tomorrow's game, I'd like to see Straily Dan go six solid. I hope "Ricky don't lose that number" to the bullpen. They'll hold the lead. Of course, I'm from the "My Old School" of thought that a pitcher should finish what he starts. "Hey Nineteen" complete games a year wasn't unusual when pitchers were allowed to do their own "Dirtywork" and get out of jams. I wish MLB managers would let them "Do It Again"

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    In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    It just feels more "baseball" when they go the distance, even if most pitchers give up about a .420 wOBA the fourth time through.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Mike, good post. I just got back from a Steely Dan concert at the Illinois State fair, so I got your song references. I also just realized they didn't play "Do it Again". I have to admit I didn't enjoy the concert that much. They are a little ''jazzy" for me. I'm more of a metal guy, but the wife wanted to go. They are great musicians, but a little sleepy for me.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I saw what you did there, as Any Major Dude Will Tell You.

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    So it sounds like a six man rotation for awhile. Or is Edwin Jackson or Wood going on the DL for "arm soreness"? I guess Arrieta could get shutdown. I'm curious to see what the plan is.

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    In reply to Sean Holland:

    I'd like Arrieta to get shut down but there goes another reason to watch the Cubs.

  • Straily's floor is Raley and his ceiling is Bailey. Or maybe he has a Wood floor and a Terrazzo ceiling. Bedtime.

  • Man would Zach Wheeler look good as a Cub....

    Still holding out for a Wheeler + Syndegaard deal in the near future for a Cubs SS.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    Might trade you one of the other. Not both. Id take Wheeler myself.

  • Extrapolate Lakes numbers over a full season and the headline #s look decent. I wonder if there are any teams left however who will put up with the k's and bad approach. I don't even think kc or pills would do it. Maybe he can get some reps in AAA and come back (with another club) as a lefty masher.

  • Pills=Philly

  • "Don't You Know How Much I Hate Losing to the Mets?" Love it. The Red Sox are my AL team. Reminds me of the white t-shirt that I picked up outside of Wrigley in the '80s. Had big, gaudy, neon yellow/green writing on it that shouted "New York Sucks." Yes, Sinister, I know how much you hate losing to the Mets. Trust me.

  • In reply to lblegacy:

    My own handle is about hating the Mets. 1969 - I'll never get over it.

  • I am getting tired of all the strike outs. It is embarrassing to watch.

  • I didn't see all of Baez's at bats, but I did see his first and last. He looked at two first pitch fastballs right down the middle of the plate. It seemed pretty obvious that he had no intention of swing at the first pitch. Then, of course, came the steady diet of breaking balls out of the zone. Can anyone explain why he isn't looking first pitch fastball every time up?

  • Why is Baez allowing first pitch fastballs to breeze by him right down the heart of the plate? And then he's hacking away at the steady diet of breaking ball thrown to him for the rest of the at bat - even if they are out of the zone. Pitchers have been working him like this for days. Hasn't he been told to attach the first pitch fastball in the heart of the zone?

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    I didn't see John write about it yet, so I'll leave it here... Lake still has some promise, despite his struggles... Add to that having an option year left matters, sending him down around the all star breaks takes away that value...

  • As you can see I live in Kansas and I have to agree with your sister that those Spangles commercials are some of the worst. We get to watch therm on every station in Wichita plus the foods not that good.
    I know John has talked about how walks will come back to haunt you and sure enough 2 walks and a dinger later game over. All I can say is onward and lets win today..

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    I watched most of this game and Renteria's call asking Mendy to lay down a bunt with runners on 1st and 2nd and none out in the second (I think) really irked me. Of course, he fouled off a bunch of 90+ heaters, eventually striking out on a 1-2 count. I'm actually more permissive about bunting than most sabermetrics folks; I absolutely don't mind it when the pitcher is batting or late in a tie game with a weak hitter up. But this was one of your run producers, a guy who is capable of launching a three-run homer. Do not ask him to bunt and basically take the bat out of his hands. Also, who's he setting the table for? Sweeney and Valaika, that's who. It makes no sense to me.

  • Can I ask if anybody has approached Bill Mueller and asked him about the RIDICOULOUS number of strikeouts? A guy throwing an 88mph fastball yesterday Ks 14 out of 18 outs, and today Baez and Castro are swinging at sliders a foot off the plate. Is there a hitting coach that teaches plate discipline?

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    There is a school of thought that says plate discipline can't BE taught. That's the conclusion Oakland came to in "Moneyball." It's also a factor in Theo and Jed's drafting strategy, bringing guys like Almora and Bryant who show the capability to take a walk now and then. I doubt this FO would have drafted Baez, but they're trying to make the best of his incredible talent, despite the poor discipline.
    In the meantime, I wonder if some of the other Cubs are impacted by the attention that Javy is getting and we're seeing more free-swinging because of it?

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    The Cubs Web site had a story on Mueller's reaction to all the strikeouts 3 days ago - Kind of "Meh..."

  • We'd better get used to seeing a lot of strikeouts from this team. On the good days, they'll score so many that it won't matter. On the bad days - and there WILL be bad days - we'll grumble about the strikeouts. Hopefully, with the lineup the Cubs will soon have, there will be many more good days.

  • Any reason why Baez keeps letting first pitch fastballs right down the middle of the plate go by and then swings at the plethora of breaking balls out of the zone? Even if he can't see the pattern being used by pitchers, shouldn't someone tell him.

  • In reply to Aggravated Battery:

    Guessing, just like us.

  • Great headline.

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