(Author’s note: As we get further into the recaps, I’ll start each off with three specific things that I am looking for in each game. Perhaps Gunther, John, or I will even try to get a game thread up with some pre-game thoughts)
I made an impromptu drive to Denver last Tuesday to see Baez’s first game, stayed for all twelve innings, and then for some reason drove the five hours back home immediately afterwards. I’ve been paying for it in the sleep department ever since. With the recent stretch of extra inning affairs, it was kind of nice to see this one end in just over three hours. Unfortunately, the Cubs were done in by Yovani Gallardo and a grown man who insists on calling himself “Scooter.” Let’s get to the recap, shall we?
Body (of work) By Jake
Jake Arrieta had his worst start of the season last time out in Colorado, so it was good to see him come back with a strong effort. Frankly, Arrieta deserved a better fate than he received for his 7.1 inning, 2ER performance. He didn’t appear to have his very best stuff, but threw strikes and held the Brewers in check for the most part. Only a long homerun by Mark Reynolds and a Braun/Scooter/Davis trio of hits led to runs, with Braun being thrown out at the plate during the sequence. This is the kind of outing that Arrieta has provided most of the season, and he’ll need to continue if the bullpen is going to have much rest until call-ups in September. Over the season, he’s struck out more than 9 per 9 innings, and kept the walks down. He may not be a true #1, but he looks pretty damn good as a #2.
The Kids are…well, they’re okay
In a non-competitive season, there are a few things that I look for during August and September. Number one, of course, is how the youngsters are playing. We’re going to see a lot of guys like Alcantara, Baez, and Hendricks from here on out as they give us a glimpse of how they might affect the 2015 version of the Cubs. As expected, tonight there were some mixed reviews. Alcantara is pressing after a hot start. An 0-for-4 night lowered his batting average to .220 and he is still making adjustments to playing centerfield at Wrigley. A slight misplay on Scooter’s double was erased when the clone of Wendall Kim waved Ryan Braun around third toward home. Later, however, Alcantara’s throw to the plate allowed Aramis Ramirez to score on another play that should have been close at the plate.
Baez got another extra-base hit, but was also impatient at times. With Javy it’s hard for me to tell if he is just super-aggressive or just has that violent swing on every pitch. His at bats feel to me like he is trying to make something happen on every pitch, and until he makes that adjustment to play within himself and within the moment, we’ll probably see this kind of result.
About nicknames. If left to baseball players and coaches, guys end up with lame monikers where you just add a “y” or “Ie” to the end; for instance, “Welly,” “Louie,” and “Javy.” Worse is with guys like Ryan Sweeney, who already have that hard E sound. In this case, the vowel sound is dropped and something ridiculous is added to create a name along the lines of “Sweendogg.” Felzz had a knack for nicknames. I don’t necessarily have that gift, so you’ll still see me reference some of his. I think that’s fair, and hopefully a fitting tribute to him.
An important Cog in the Machine?
Obvious pun is obvious. Chris Coghlan may not be the sexy player that Baez or Rizzo is. He just seems to do a little something on the field every day to make the team a little better. Today he made a nice play on a ball that was smoked to left field, and obviously briefly tied up the game with a double in the fifth inning. He started off slow, but if you’ve been paying attention, has been the most consistent player for the Cubs over the past couple of months. If 2015 comes around, I don’t hate the idea of him playing most every day, or possibly in a platoon with Ruggiano. Is he the long-term answer there? Probably not, but you can sure do worse than to have a guy that hits at a .285 clip with an OBP of .350 and some extra base pop.
By the way, Gunther and I are going to try something new, featuring the “Three Stars of the Game.” Let us know if you love it or hate it, but most of all, tell us whether you think we’re right or we’re wrong. My picks for the night:
#3 Jake Arrieta – 7.1 IP 5H 2ER 1BB 4K – Can’t ask much more from a Cubs starter these days
#2 Yovani Gallardo – 7 IP 6H 1ER 0BB 6K – Kept Cubs hitters off balance all night long
#1 Mike Pullin – 65 year-old lefty made a nice grab, and managed to halt his momentum before falling onto Waveland Avenue. And best of all, he’s now internet famous
So the cubs drop the first game of the series to Milwaukee. Tomorrow Kyle Hendricks looks to improve on his 3-1 record against Wily “My Dad Beat the L Out of Me as a Kid” Peralta.