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Happy Jake Days Again--Cubs 7 Blue Jays 4

Happy Jake Days Again--Cubs 7 Blue Jays 4

The Toronto Blue Jays coming to Wrigley Field is part of the fun of interleague play. The Cubs and Jays rarely matchup despite the increase in interleague play, and I must admit a certain affinity for the only Canadian club based on a few years living in southern Ontario. The Jays have been a good team, but have fallen on hard times in 2017. That said they've been a dangerous August team like the Cubs in recent years, and that is the case as the Jays were on a 10-5 run in the month heading into this one.

Jake Arrieta isn't the Cy Young machine he was a couple years ago. He is also still a very good pitcher. He wobbled a little in the first inning. Jose Bautista fouled out on a full count pitch. Josh Donaldson flew out to Ben Zobrist in left field. Justin Smoak hit a 3-2 slider for a double, and was driven in by a Steven Pearce single. Miguel Montero was greeted roughly by the homefield crowd, but aided their cause with a groundout to end the inning. The Blue Jays would hold that 1-0 lead for another inning as J.A. Happ pitched a clean bottom half of the inning.

Arrieta settled in to retire the side in order in the top of the second. Happ's perfect game bid ended on the fourth batter faced. Zobrist drew a walk which lead to the happiest matchup of the game. J.A. got Ian to swing over a breaking ball in the dirt for the first of many Happ strikeouts. Victor Caratini doubled to put two runners into scoring position. Zobrist was held up due to the strong arm of Bautista, but the throw got away from the cutoff man. It didn't matter as Jason Heyward hit a "single" to the right side. J.A. Happ didn't break to cover first, and it allowed Heyward to reach with Zobrist tying the game. Javier Baez hit a floater into right that scored Caratini. Arrieta hit a deep flyball for the second out, but Albert Almora hit a single into right field. The Almora single scored Heyward, but he drifted too far off of first base as the throw went to second. Baez attempted to score as Almora was caught up in the rundown. The throw beat Baez to the plate, but initially it looked like Montero missed the tag. Baez was ruled out and the play was confirmed after review. The Cubs led 3-1 and wouldn't trail again at that point.

Arrieta faced the minimum in the third thanks to a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play to end the inning. Happ and Arrieta traded zeroes with little drama until the bottom of the fifth inning. Almora singled to start the frame, and Bryant doubled to give the Cubs a golden scoring chance. Anthony Rizzo delivered with a single in the spot a non-shifted shortstop would usually play. That extended the Cubs lead to 5-1. Zobrist flew out for the first out of the inning. The third Ian strikeout of the game happenend to be looking. Caratini was walked intentionally after a Rizzo stolen base. Heyward struck out to ended the inning.

Arrieta put another zero on the board in the sixth inning. Aaron Loup was the first Jays reliever. Arrieta hit a one out single, but that was all for the Cubs in the inning. Jake started the seventh, but ran into trouble starting with a Kevin Pillar double. Ryan Goins grounded out to second advancing Pillar to third. Ezequiel Carrera pinch hit for the former Cub Darwin Barney. Carrera drew the walk to end Arrieta's afternoon. Carl Edwards Jr. came on to face the switch hitting Kendrys Morales. He hit the ball right to Rizzo who decided to throw home. Pillar was tagged out on the rundown, but Carrera was able to advance to third on the play. Edwards battled Bautista in a lengthy 9 pitch duel. The deadlock was finally broken as Bautista swung over the top of a low curve.

Tim Mayza was the Jays relievers to take the seventh inning. Zobrist ripped a one out double, but was thrown out trying to steal third base by Montero. Happ sturck out for the fourth time to end the inning. Pedro Strop was the third Cubs pitcher. Strop got two outs to start the inning from Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak, but ran into some two out BABIP trouble. Steave Pearce hit a floater into right that dropped into right field for a single. Montero hit a fliner single into center, and then Strop hung a two strike slider to Pillar that was ripped for a double into left field. That cut the Cubs lead to 5-2. Ryan Goins hit a single ball just out of the reach of a diving Ian Happ to drive in Montero and Pillar. Carrera drove Almora to the wall for the final out. The out though kept the Cubs ahead 5-4.

Mayza went out for the bottom half of the eighth inning. Caratini slapped a single back up the middle for his third hit of the game. Caratini would wipe out on a very near double play fielder's choice by Heyward. That would be important as Baez blasted an 0-1 fastball from Mayza to give the Cubs a three run lead. Mayza exited after walking Jon Jay in a pinch hit spot, but the Cubs could do no further damage against new Jays reliever Ryan Tepera. Wade Davis pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 25 straight save. He got a little help from a spectacular play by Baez on a Bautista smash, and the Cubs are still in first place.

WPA CHART

Source: FanGraphs

That Familiar Feeling
Jake is probably never going to be Bob Gibson 2.0 again. He was as good as the greatest pitcher of this generation for a season and half stretch. That is an unfair level to expect, but that confidence we used to have when we said it was a Jake Day is creeping back in. This Jake Arrieta is certainly someone you can give the ball to in a postseason series with some confidence. The velocity is starting to tick back up, but more importantly he has found some command. The slider, cutter, slutter thing is still getting hit harder than any other point in his Cubs career, but if he can command the fastball it doesn't matter as much. A healthy Jon Lester, Jose Quintana (despite a couple of subpar outings) and Arrieta is a pretty solid front 3 in the rotation. I don't know who you give the ball to in game 4, but getting there first is the focus.

The BABIP Dragon
The Cubs did not benefit from the luck of the BABIP dragon yesterday. The Cubs outhomered the Reds a million to two, but lost due to the dink and dunk offense of the Reds. Today the Cubs bats got a little bit of that luck back in the second inning with a few well placed hits. The Cubs actually managed to score the winning margin of runs without a single long ball. The Cubs were bit by the dragon a bit in the eighth inning as the Blue Jays dropped a few hits into place. The big hit was a bouncing groundball that was just out of the reach of Happ. I would be remiss not to mention that Happ had a very solid day with the glove while his bat had a hole in it.

Boo Birds
Miguel Montero was booed fairly loudly when he came up to his first plate appearance. I am largely a do what you like as long as it isn't hurting someone else guy, but booing Montero irked me. Montero was critical to the Cubs turnaround in 2015. He played a very important role on teams that won over 200 games in two seasons, and of course hit several key home runs on the way to the first World Series title in 108 years during the postseason. He did not leave on good terms with his remarks made out of frustration (that weren't inaccurate mind you either), but it seems largely the fanbase turned on him for suffering the fate of many catchers. That being skills leaving in his thirties with the wear and tear of the most demanding position in the game. He deserved better today as a returning hero. He had a bit of the last laugh with two hits and a thrown out base stealer in the losing effort.

Random Reference
The Cubs bullpen has largely been good this season. It has been prone to random bouts of suckiness from just about everyone in the pen. That includes the Cubs closer, but he has remained perfect in save attempts. There is a certain calmness that comes from having Davis at the backend of the bullpen. Joe Maddon must feel a bit like Data at the end of this scene whenever he inserts Wadebot in for the final three outs of a game.

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    My stars--#1 is Jake, #1A--Javy and #3 is Caratini--he seems to be finding his hitting stroke and is not bad behind the plate.

  • 1. Was at the game. Very disappointed with the fans that booed Mighy. No memeber of THE World Series champs should ever be booed. And he got the hit that drove in what turned out to be the winning run. Shameful to boo him.

    2. Jake was the guy we were all most worried about several weeks ago. Now he's out best SP. A good reminder that it's a long season.

    3. Caritini looking good on his 2nd time up in the bigs. Maybe he should be the primary catcher til Willy gets back.

    4. My guy Javy is THE MAN. In 8th and 9th showed again why he's my favorite and why I consider him the most exciting player I've ever seen. Also showing why Joe should've been playing him EVERYDAY no matter what. Finally, there is no way Javy should be batting 8th. Put him at clean up til Willy gets back. No brainer.

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    In reply to TTP:

    1. I agree Miggy should not have been booed. But I disagree that he drove in the "winning run" any more than Contreras, Baez, Fowler, Rizzo, Ross did. Remember, without those guys driving in runs in the first 9 innings Miggy driving in an important insurance run doesn't happen.

    2. Jake has turned things around. I won't pretend "I knew it all along." But I am happy to see him pitching well again.

    3. Caratini is getting better. But I feel more comfortable with Avila on a regular basis and let Caratini break in slowly.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I know it is water under the bridge but i still believe that miggy got a raw deal in why he was released. What is the difference in Lester yelling at teammates on field or in dugout then saying Jake is slow to plate?? Then add that he got into it with a coach?? If Cubs aren't gonna except showing up teammates then where does that line get drawn?

  • Not sure how you could possibly put Quintana ahead of Hendricks right now. The key words there are "right now".

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    You guys must be watching a different Kyle Hendricks that I am seeing right now. The guy throwing 84-86 isn't someone I feel very comfortable given the ball to in a postseason start against the Nats or Dodgers. I'll own up to be unabashedly a huge Quintana fan, but even with the blow up against Arizona I don't see how you could put this Hendricks ahead of him. But that is just me.

  • In reply to Mike Banghart:

    Let us discuss this when and if it occurs. Cubs are 21-12 since the ASB continuing to win despite some key injuries. At .636 that is on pace for 90 wins.

    I am watching how Maddon sets up the team before the playoffs. That said, I would like to see the team finish strong in August with 12 games against weaker teams 6 on the road 6 at home. They are presently 7-8 in August.

    Anyway, the other question is, with Russell on the DL is Baez at SS and Happ/Zobrist making Russell a potential trade asset in the off season?

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    At first I missed Addison' s steady play a short. Lately Javier has not only impressed, but, as usual, brings out the wow factor. I'd like to keep both. Basically when healthy they both play almost every game and make for great depth at key positions.

  • Hendricks. Hendricks. Hendricks!

    Javier Baez is real good at baseball.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    but he strikes out! sarcasm tags

  • Despite the strikeouts baez plate discipline is improving.I forgot who it was on the reds but they threw him a couple sliders out the zone and he didn't chase.He's always gonna be somewhat reckless at the plate because of the bat speed and ability to hit balls that other players can't hit but if he can stay in the zone more he will be one of the most dangerous hitters on the team.I really hope he maintains ,because he's a fun player to watch.

  • Absolutely ridiculous that cubs fan would boo Miggy today. I didn't see the game today on TV, and I'm glad I missed that. Montero is an unsung hero from the 2016 team as others have posted. Am I the only one who didn't have a major issue with his comments? Yeah, he could have and should have kept it in the clubhouse, but it seems like the reaction was way stronger than needed to be. Geez. I see players like Rajon Rondo on the bulls who intentionally trip a player while sitting on the bench, (just awful sportsmanship) and a lot of people don't make a big deal of it. And then a player (Montero) makes a couple of truthful comments about a teammate's pitching delivery, and the twitter machine goes nuts and the guy is kicked off the team. I don't get it. I'll be going to the game on Sunday, and I can't wait to root for the cubs, but I'll also be rooting and cheering for Miggy if he plays.

  • In reply to Bill Buckner #22:

    You are in a small minority. And as you admitted "you don't get it." You don't bash a teammate to the media.

    I do agree that it is ridiculous to "boo" him. He did not deserve that treatment.

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    At the end of the day, if Miggy was slashing 300/380/470 he would still be on the team. I know there are different rules for different players, but if Bryant or Rizzo said what Miggy said, not a thing would have happened therefore it wasn't that big of a deal.

    Just an overblown situation. Should it have been kept in house, sure, but it's not like he threw his teammates under the bus. Him and Jake are having dinner tonight and talk frequently.......so if Jake didn't think he said anything wrong, why should we?

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Montero was slashing .286/366/439 he was actually solid.He publicly threw a teammate under the bus and this was after complaining about playing time last october the DAY of the championship parade.Theo was right in cutting him imo.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I don't agree with that, Jim. What bolls said is how I feel. His complaining the day after the World Series was grounds for dismissal, IMO. I think Theo gave him another chance and he blew it.

    He still didn't deserve to be booed today.

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    I agree w you guys w the comments after the world series. All I know is the players have no problem w him esp the one he supposedly "threw under the bus" then its a non issue to me.

    When the FO makes a stand, right or wrong, what do you expect the sheep to do? You can't be shocked or surprised they were booing.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion so I respect your guys thoughts on the issue. All I can go by as the majority of the people in the know like the players and even Len and JD even said on the air basically ( w/o saying anything negative about the FO, they like their jobs) that is was a real surprise he got cut and JD even gave the analogy of if he was hitting better, he wouldn't of been cut. It wasn't my thought.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Yes, I always thought it wasn't just what he said( tho it didn't help), I doubt that the Sabermetrics were on his side either.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    One correction a lot of the players don't like montero even though arrieta took the high road publicly. Remember that this organization keeps clubhouse issues in house generally and they make a big effort not to leak inside info to the media. I have 1st hand knowledge that a number of players weren't the biggest fan of montero although yes arrieta felt bad that the guy was cut over something he didn't take offense too. But ask yourself when does Anthony rizzo ever say the things that he said about montero you know he makes a big effort to be a model teammate ESP publicly

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    In reply to kkhiavi:

    With all your amazing contacts. Honestly, You should write a book or a tell all memoir. I will buy an advanced copy.

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    In reply to kkhiavi:

    Boy, with all your contacts and inside information, you should write a tell all memoir/tell all book

    Honestly, I would buy an advanced copy and so would may others.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I guess to say the don't like him is a strong word but he's definitely not a popular guy and this Moreso stems from the 1st comments he made about Joe Maddon. Not that he was wrong but certain players just wondered why are you gonna throw someone from the team under the bus to the media there's no benefit to you or the team. Then the 2nd comments were the last straw for many of the players. The fact that he's just not good at this point of his career was definitely a factor as well though but montero definitely was never a popular guy within the clubhouse.

    And I'm sure the team would never sign off in claiming some of the stories I've heard were true but I really wouldn't want to disclose inside information that publicly which would create a distraction to this team I love

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I think a key part of the Miggy thing is not that he said that Jake needs to do a better job holding runners. But that he talked about how it messed up his throwing stats. I can imagine Theo hearing that and saying "forget you and your stats."

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    You don't show up teammates or coaches on the field or dugout. So we should boo Lester according to you.

  • I was also at the game. Excellent recap. As for Miggy, Almora did hug him before the first AB; after that it was business as usual. Jake was excellent, but I might have gone with "Javy Nice Day." When have you seen him choke up and bloop opposite field with two strikes, homer, and make a potentially game changing defensive play in the same game. Two outs and empty vs one out and man on with meat of the lineup coming up.
    And huge props to the Jays fans, probably over 10K strong. They hit the guest trifecta: they were extremely polite, they were loudly supportive of their team, and they were knowledgeable about the game. Batting practice was boisterous show second only to the Air & Water practice flights. Most stayed in awe of Go Cubs Go! at the end.
    Last prop to Tom Skilling (or Whoever deserves credit) as it was Chamber of Commerce weather, "a beautiful day for a ballgame."

    We won't discuss the top of the eighth. If the starter goes deep and the closer is perfect, Maddon still needs to navigate the bullpen version of Russian Roulette, otherwise known as "Who's gonna crap the bed today?"

  • In reply to charactercounts:

    Nice post, charactercounts. Big win today, because they are all big wins the rest of the way.

    Javy Baez. "El Mago". My Spanish skills aren't the best, but I know that translates to "the magician". I've also heard it translated to "the wizard", which works much better for my purposes. Friday night, Cubs win, Javy completely Javy's, and all is right in the world. Go Cubs:

    "Never talking.
    Just keeps walking.
    Spreading his magic.""

  • In reply to charactercounts:

    Nice post, charactercounts. Today was a big win, as they all will be heading down the stretch.

    Javier Baez. "El Mago". My Spanish skills are next to nil, but I know that commonly translates to "The Magician". I've also heard it translated to "The Wizard", which works much better for my purposes. Friday night. Cubs win. Javy absolutely Javy's. And all is right in the world:

    "Never talking.
    Just keeps walking.
    Spreading his magic."

    Go Cubs!

  • In reply to charactercounts:

    I was surprised by the number of Jay's fans. Toronto is not that close.

  • Do you think Maples will get called up at some point this year? I am disappointed that Tseng wasn't called up and Maples out of the pen. Would prefer Montgomery out of the pen.

  • In reply to 1rungames:

    My mildly educated guess is that Maples will be a September call up. A guy who has had his command issues is not a great fit right now with the 25 man roster limits. When the roster expands and Maddon will have a double digit man pen to work with it'll be a good chance to see what Maples has. I think Monty will only get a start or two, and therefore it makes the most sense to not bring a completely untested option up.

  • In reply to 1rungames:

    I was also sort of hoping for Tseng, but my guess is that if the injury is mild, that's why they decided to stick to call ups from the 40-man roster.

  • In reply to Jared Wyllys:

    Bullpen help in the minors are lot like back up quarterbacks in the NFL.

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    Tonight Pierce Johnson started for Iowa. I wonder if Theo is thinking of replacing Lester with him. He's doing pretty well too. 3 innings, 1 ER, 49 pitches and 7 SO.

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    The ex Cub that deserves the most boos is Matt Garza, he was the one who told Smardzja to get out of Chicago cause the team was terrible. 2 years later, World Series champs!

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    In reply to Dan Strickland:

    FWIW the Cubs played a part in Samardzija "getting out of town." And it could be argued convincingly that that trade had a little to do with the Cubs winning the WS (Obviously Addison Russell, but also Strailly was included in the Dexter Fowler trade and Billy McKinney was involved in the Aroldis Chapman trade). While the other guys were not "cornerstone pieces" of their trades they did play a part.

  • Javier Baez. "El Mago". I know that is most commonly translated as "The Magician", but I've also seen it translated as "The Wizard", which works much better for my purposes.

    Friday night. Cubs win. Javy doing Javy-type things for the Cubs against a baseball team the Cubs are trying to beat. All is right with the world:

    "Never talking.
    Just keeps walking.
    Spreading his magic."

  • The groundhog's day thread.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    LoL, thought that too...

  • Javy. He's batting .308 with a .664 slugging percentage and an OPS just south of 1.000 since the All-Star break.

    "I like hearing the fans cheer for me," Baez said. "I know Chicago loves me. Thank you."

    Maybe it's just the accent, but Javy has a sweet innocence about him. I just love that kid and watching him succeed is a joy.

    Joe, he's your clean up hitter! OK?

  • Jake has been much more reliable since the ASB. I no longer cringe when I see him starting. I reserve that for the bullpen. I know Maddon is making an effort to give the starters a break and not let their pitch or inning count get out of control after 2 post seasons in a row, but it now looks like the bullpen is gassed. September cannot come soon enough for those guys. Monty seems so much better out of the pen, I almost hate to see him in the rotation, but he's the most obvious choice.

    I love Javy Baez. Yeah, he's made errors at SS since Russell's injury, and I don't like to see that, but I think he's improved as a hitter since being a more regular player. He's always going to be a big swing guy, I don't think the occasional 4-5 strike out game will go away, but there will be more games like yesterday where his bat and glove wrapped it up.

    I didn't like the comments Miggy made after the WS and I didn't like the ones he made that got him DFAed. Boo worthy, probably not. There's other guys worthy of a boo, not Miggy though.

  • Dodgers get Granderson from the Mets...

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Why do they need another left handed bat? Where is he going to play with all their hitters? Bench speed?

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    In reply to KJRyno:

    FYI, you never stop improving your 25 man roster esp if you can at very little prospect cost and big market teams like the dodgers, cubs, yanks, redsox, ect laugh at the 2 month salary owed

  • I was at the game and was appalled at the boos for Montero. I'll never forget the pinch hit grand slam against the Dodgers or the hit that drove in the 8th run in Game 7. I stood up and applauded.

    I will never forget the contributions Montero made to 2016 World Series Championship.

  • Miggy overall was a good Cub. The front office made a statement with his release and Montero wasn't so much a victim as he was a descent guy who mistakenly stepped over the line. Factor in the fact that Caritini looks so good behind the plate, that he was obviously ready for mlb exposure. He handles himself like a catcher even though he might not become one with a great arm. Plus, Victor always gives the team a quality at bat. His future looks good.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I really like the way Victor Caritini carries himself. I think he is a quality teammate.

  • Don't look now, but Schwarber is also tearing it up since the All-Star break. .277/.381/.578 for OPS of .959

    I find it interesting that even as a fan that loves advanced stats, I still get fooled by batting average. He has just broken above .200, but even his full season OBP and SLG is .763. I think people just get distracted by that ugly first number. It is also why I think the front office stuck by him, even early this year. His OBP never really dipped below .315, which isn't great, but hardly the dumpster fire a sub .200 avg is.

  • Time for the Cubs to trade Russell this winter for a good front line pitcher. Archer would look great in a Cubbie uniform.

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