They Still Play 9-Inning Games in Chicago? Brewers 3, Cubs 1

They Still Play 9-Inning Games in Chicago? Brewers 3, Cubs 1

(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.



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  • fb_avatar

    Enjoyed the recap, like the changes, but I do have one slight quibble.

    I'm totally fine if I get shouted down here, but I feel like "Onwards" should be retired, at least as part of the recap. That feels to me like something so uniquely and perfectly Felzz that even as a tribute it can't do him justice.

  • In reply to Nathan King:

    I completely agree with this. It was his first one so as a tribute it still makes sense for this recap, and obviously it's totally up to the writer what he wants to write, but Onwards truly was Felzzy, that word will forever make me think of him. Even that he had a "sign-off" like that was uniquely his own as most articles/recaps don't end like that. So you don't really even "need" a new signature farewell. Just my opinion.

  • Nice job Sean...enjoyed this one. A solid debut!

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    A great job indeed! I wish my first response had been this instead of something slightly critical!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks! I hope everyone keeps in mind that I'm just a rookie getting a looksee over the past couple of months, too! I hope to learn as I go, and hopefully get better.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    Absolutely, this community can be very helpful. I still learn stuff from them all the time.

  • great pic. thanks for the write-up, well done and I for one, am on board with the hockey style 3 stars.

  • I didn't watch tonight, was working but looking at box score glad to se that Castro is still hitting with a couple more hits. Would like to see him get up around .290 or so. A few walks (from anyone on the team too, especially of late) wouldn't hurt any either.

  • In reply to Behn Wilson:

    Yeah, the patient approach that helped the Cubs out against LA and Colorado last week has abandoned them over the past few days. They didn't make Gallardo work hard at all until the fifth inning, and even then they only strung enough hits together to get the one run.

  • In reply to Behn Wilson:

    Castro also fired a strike to nail Braun at the plate. Good all-around game from him.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Castro has 131 hits with 45 games to go. He should get close to 200 hits again and will go over the 1000 hit mark next year, midway through his 25 year old season. Very impressive. Hope he stays hot the rest of the way.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    The only quibble I have about Starlin's play is that someone needs to review how to tag out a runner with him. Twice in recent days I have seen him apply a high tag on base runners sliding into 2B and the runners have been safe. A low tag keeping the glove and ball between the runner's hand or foot and the bag and the runners would have been an easy out. If it was the 7th game of the WS, it would have been extremely embarrassing. This is the kind of play that you teach in youth baseball not at the MLB level.

    Otherwise, Starlin's play in the field has been really sharp for the most part.

  • In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    These are the little things that drive me crazy about Castro. Why doesn't he know this stuff by now? I don't understand. Has he been taught and yet doesn't apply the information. It's confusing. On the other hand; the probability of 1000 hits by 25 years of age is very impressive. I suspect that might always be the way it is with Castro. He'll drive you crazy on minute and the next you'll be marveling at his accomplishments.

  • In reply to Aggravated Battery:

    I suspect that he doesn't know the small stuff like this because he has been rushed through whatever systems he has been in. Remember he's only 24. I think you also have to look at who has been his instructors even more than you look at Starlin. Whose fault is it? The instructors or the student? Some of instructors (like Sveum) focused a lot more on Starlin's hitting than they did his fielding. For Pete's sake, the kid has over MLB 800 hits and they focused on his hitting? Fielding-wise, Starlin gets to balls that others can only wave at as they go by. That's in-born. But whoever his infield coaches have been, they have missed the boat. Applying a proper tag is a fundamental that is taught, not an in-born talent.

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    Good first recap.

  • Love the kid all the way on the right's expression. I think he loved the catch too. That was "Awesome". Hope the guy isn't too stiff in the morning after that grab.

    Oh, & great recap. Like the 3 stars as well. Can't disagree at all with your choices either.

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    Nice job! I like the "onwards" at the end. It's complete respect to a man who earned it.

  • In reply to mblum876:

    Agree with every word.

  • I definitely agree with Mike Pullin as the number 1 star. Nice catch and good balance. On tv they said the ball he threw back on the field was a ball his dog plays with.

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    Has there been a more outstanding player the last three months more than Arrieta? Rizzo? But Arrieta had a lot to prove this year and he's been aces. Would love to see him finish the season strong and healthy. Much discussed lack of pitching depth makes him quite valuable.
    Loved the catch. He never gave up on it. But the sack of extra balls? Throwing back another one was strange but made me think this was a veteran move to pull off such trickery after nearly rolling off the top of the railing. All said, amazing catch and I have a feeling this one will have legs.

  • Nice recap. Keep the onwards, I say. And the nicknames too. Nothing wrong with keeping a bit of Felzz around the recaps.

  • In reply to TheMightyGin:

    Agree. Fine tribute.

  • Alcantara's arm is concerning.

    He's got the athleticism and the range to man center field, with a handful of highlight real grabs early on, but his arm has looked anything but.

    A poor throw today when he should have gunned a slow Aramis Ramirez from second (on a ball that should have helped Alcantara's momentum forward) and a poor throw home the other day that just made it to the pitcher's mound leaves me cause for concern.

    It should be pretty elementary that you don't throw a ball home from the outfield with a side-arm motion. To me that's Baseball 101. Can't even remember the last time I saw someone side-arm a throw home from the OF.

    He certainly needs to work on his mechanics moving forward (hopefully even more in the off-season) because he has the potential to be a mainstay in center for a long time. Just needs to completely refine his mechanics because he is no longer an infielder and side-arming it will not fly.

    On a side note, the past seven games Valbuena is 1-for-18 and is hitting a meager .208 over the past month. I think it would be good for him to get some rest. Give Valaika some time at 3B or call up Olt and give him some time the rest of the season.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    Mendy throwing the ball from the outfield looks like... me trying to throw the ball from the outfield. Painful to watch at times.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    I think he needs to just work on his mechanics, like you pointed out. His side arm throw must be fixed.

  • In reply to Peter Chicago:

    The arm strength will never be that great, but I would think the the arm angle can definitely be fixed with practice. There have been a lot of center fielders play with weaker arms, but the key for him will be his hitting. If he can hit as well as we think (hope) he can, he will have very good value.

  • In reply to Cphil:

    Alcantara has a very strong arm, plenty good enough for CF. Most scouts have it as a 60 grade (plus). Accuracy and footwork have always been the problem, which is why he got dramatically better when he was moved to 2nd, as it was easier to step into the throws for him. He is learning on the job at the MLB level to play CF, his footwork will improve and he will be a very good defensively. If he stayed at 2nd he would be absolute stud.

    Slick Pick & Throw by Alcantara

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    Well, he was an infielder when he was called up. There has to be an adjustment period. He just needs to get used to throwing the ball farther. As he practices, he will get better at it.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    I think the difficult adjustment to CF was on display on the double that Braun tried to score on. He's still getting a feel for going back to the wall, and you could see a bit of...I don't know if it was hesitation...but just a slight reaction that caused the ball to hit off his glove instead of catching it. He seems to have the athletic ability to learn the position, so I think these are all things that are fixable. It just takes repetition.

  • Loved the recap Sinister, and the idea of the 3 stars feature. My vote means nothing, but imitation is the greatest form of flattery... Keep the 'onwards'.

  • A great debut article, Sinister, thanks for the work.

    Put me in the camp that says "Onwards" is entirely appropriate and a tribute to Felzz. Even when the Cubs performance resulted in mostly negative things to write about, that one word, "onwards," conveyed his optimism that better things are coming tomorrow.
    I consider it entirely your choice whether to keep it or come up with something different, but no problem here if you keep it.

  • Great recap, thank you !!!

    If I were pitching against Baez, I would not how a single pitch, especially fastball, in the strike zone. He swung at a 55' pitch.......all the bat speed in the world won't help in those cases. My optimism regarding him specifically remains guarded as a result of these at bats, but I will remaine hopeful and patient because we "knew" he would struggle. I hope he can make the necessary adjustments, as he has every level so far, and become one of the important pieces for our drive for a WS!!!

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    Yeah, its been tough to patient while he struggles with that .606 slugging percentage, boy once he figures it all out...

  • In reply to mjvz:

    You must have missed the OBP of .272 and KO % of almost 40%when looking through those rose colored glasses. : )

  • Thanks for the recap - I almost felt like I was at the game.

    One request : could you add a link to the box score? Felzz used to add one that included lots of good stuff including number of pitches faced.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    I will do that. I just need to get a little bit more familiar with the software. It should be an easy enough thing to do.

  • Good recap, thanks!

  • After posting a 2013-esque July (221/291/260), Castro is slashing 415/442/537 in August, having hit safely in all 10 games.

  • Good recap, Sinister. So glad you've taken that position. Tribune recaps are pedestrian at best, so I've been looking forward to the return of them here.

  • Great recap. And as a hockey fan, I'm on board with the 3 stars of the game.

  • Great recap. Glad they're back. I vote to keep the 'onwards'. It just feels right.

  • On the surface Coghlan isn't "sexy" but if you think about it some more, it's pretty great that the Cubs have taken a former ROY off the scrap pile and possibly turned him back into the kind of player he used to be. If he continues playing at that level and contributes it's a huge success story for the organization and just a little bit of proof to the naysayers at the Cubs might actually know what they're doing.

  • I'll echo the others, great first recap SinisterUrge. Glad to see your Cubs passion come through. I can't believe you drove 5 hours after that 12 inning game in Denver, even if it was one of the most enjoyable games I've been to in person. Are you in KS Cubs Fan? Or CO?

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    I'm a Kansas guy. Raised in Lawrence, but now living on the western side of the state. It's closer to drive to Denver than KC, and it's nice being closer to a NL park so I can see the Cubs in person. Also not a bad drive to go to Colorado Springs and catch the I-Cubs. I hope to see them every time they are there next summer.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    I live in SW KS. It's about a 6 hr drive to the Springs and 7 to Denver. But also about 7 to Des Moines. Usually try to see the Big league team in Denver and Iowa a series or two a summer. Thanks for the write ups!

  • Loved it! Onwards!

  • Nicely done Sinister! I liked the Wendal Kim reference.

  • Great recap! Now all we need is an explanation for your chosen login name 0)

  • In reply to Paulson:

    Well, it was me thinking I was funny and clever. Over the years, I've had different handles for message boards, some of them that were very close to my own name. At one point, I thought it would be better for me to have a more "anonymous" name, and it would perhaps free me of the chains to be over-polite online.

    I also was a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and their treatment of Ed Wood films. One of them, "The Sinister Urge" was featured on the Comedy Central incarnation of the show back in the 90's. I thought that it was kind of a fitting name, given that I would then be "free" to anonymously rib people. Turned out that I pretty much just kept the same style of posting, so it's more of a joke, really!

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    Honorable Mr. Urge,
    Anyone who like Ed Wood perfect for Cubs Den!
    I glad that Cubs' long-range plan is no longer "Plan 9 from Outer Space".
    Keep up good work.
    (Please give tips--what to wear on Ladies' Day?)
    --Glen or Glenda

  • Good stuff. Glad the recaps are back. Nicely done.

  • By the way, did anyone see Plesac talkin about the old switcherooski on the MLB Network when dude made that catch and threw his own ball back while keeping the game ball? Pretty funny stuff.

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    The headline says it all about why this is not (yet) a watchable team. If they're behind after six innings, it's basically over.

    Baez needs to stop taking hitting lessons from mike olt. I seriously wonder if he'll ever be mature enough to realize that not every swing has to be a ball onto Waveland Avenue.

  • Some hitters need to be agressive in the strike zone regardless of the count. Aramis was like that. Sometimes it seems that aggressively looking for a pitch to drive actually makes a power guy more selective. I think that might work for Baez.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    The thing about Baez is that he thinks he can drive any pitch. And he might not be to far off on his assessment. Of course he can't, but I think he'll learn.

    Check out this piece on Fangraphs regarding Baez's April 7th HR.

  • In reply to Aggravated Battery:

    Wow! Good info, thanks.

  • You wonder if you are seeing Arrieta return to norm after a career best but injury abbreviated "first half." Only time will tell, but as the innings mount toward maybe a career best 180 innings, his effectiveness is dipping and returning to 3rd/4th starter quality. Consider he's given up as many HRs, earned runs and wild pitches in his last 5 starts (2) as in his first 13 starts in the first half. Or is it just a normal lull in the middle of anyone's season? We'll see. Personally, I feel he is an "ace" in name only -- which isn't a criticism of him but those who too easily sling the label around. If he is only a good 3rd starter, I'll take that too.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    I haven't really seen anyone calling Arrieta an "Ace". Most articles and comments I have seen have been along the lines of him being a #2 Starter IF he can keep it up. Their is absolutely no question that he has pitched great this year, and his peripherals are even better than his standard stats so it certainly hasn't been luck or a fluke. As far as some sort of drop off...he has had one bad start, one. Last night, he went 7 & 1/3rd innings - 2 runs, 1 walk, 4 SO's - A quality start, and it only took 95 pitches, lowering his ERA to 2.77 and his FIP to 2.37.

    He is striking out 4 times as many batters as he is walking, has a batting avg against of .216, and a BABIP of only .287 which is below league average, so I don't see anything that points to regression in his future. His stats pretty much backup what we have seen with our eyes, that he has been a dominant pitcher this year as a result of better control and trusting his stuff.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Edit: League average BABIP is .296, so he is actually 9 points below, which isn't statistically significant.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I was pretty careful not to refer to Arrieta as an ace for a couple of reasons. The first is that I'd like for the performance to be sustained over the course of an entire season. Also, we are seeing a return to dominance for pitching. I haven't done any statistical analysis, but if you include figures like ERA, FIP, xFIP...I would imagine that Arrieta's numbers put him as a "low 1" or "high 2" (does that make sense?). He needs to sustain those numbers over a season and into next to really show he's a 2.

    That being said, he's really had such a strong year, with really only the Colorado game last week being a sub-par start, IMO. As the season has progressed, he's thrown more strikes, and really been efficient with his pitch count. Remember when we all worried if he could make it through the 5th inning without throwing 100 pitches? Those days seem to be gone. I've been very impressed with him. He is the Cubs' "Ace" by default, probably a #2, but something to definitely build the rotation around.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    I agree.

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    Wow! Great job with your first recap Sean. It seem the Cubs Den has some top notch prospects of their own. This next year or so is going to be a blast!

  • Urge wrote; "He (Coghlan) just seems to do a little something on the field every day to make the team a little better."

    I love Coghlan for this very reason. I like ballplayers who pay attention to the details and hustle. I think you find players like Coghlan on championship teams (e.g. Marco Scutaro). I just wish he was 27 years old instead of 29.

  • Great recap rookie! (ha ha) I'm glad you have a good sense of humor, I missed that about Felz's recaps (the numerous chuckles and sometimes even outright belly laughs)...I'm glad that you will bring some of that back. Since you asked for opinions on the "three stars", I'm not a big fan as it's more of a Blackhawks thing (and I have never liked them giving stars to opposing players) but I very much like the idea of bringing some stats into the recaps.

    If I maybe so bold as to make a suggestion, perhaps at the end instead of "three stars", you could have a "notable performances" section (both positive & negative) which gives a quick individual stat roundup of the game, i.e. starting pitcher stats, a couple of the best hitters for the day (or a notable bad streak), or a player with a game winning hit, etc. Also the Cubs Den is known for John's Minor League Recaps, but the Cubs are at a point now where prospects are getting called up to the majors, at which point they are no longer in the recaps. However many Cubs Denizens are in other states and don''t see all the games, so it might be a good idea to add a "Rookie Roundup" section for each game at the very end. We already have Alcantara, Baez, Hendricks, up with the team and in September or earlier their will be more (Soler), and more and more will be coming going forward, so it would be a nice extension of the minor recaps to keep track of the rookie prospects that we have all been following for so long. Obviously if the rookies are already featured prominently in the recap then you wouldn't need to repeat the stats, just for those that weren't. These are all just generic titles and suggestions and you can not give them a second thought, but I just figured I would suggest what I personally would like to see. Anyway, great job, and I look forward to reading your recaps in the future.

  • Very well done, Urgey (note the lame nickname applied ;-). I enjoyed reading it. The three stars is a very good thing for me. #1 was well deserved. The guy showed uber-poise. One second he's almost flipped over the railing and the next he's pulling the switcheroo. He could teach some of our Cubbies a few things....

  • In reply to HefCA:

    I love that picture! The full trib photo is awesome, I think I am going to blow it up and frame it....

    Epic Grab by Bleacher Bum

  • Great job Sinister. Enjoyed the stats, the perspective, the humor.

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