Well That Was Easy - Cubs 7, Reds 6

The Cubs offense jumped all over Homer Bailey and the Reds on Wednesday night. Then another bullpen meltdown almost cost them the game, luckily disaster was averted and the Northsiders' pulled out a win.

The Reds threatened immediately against John Lackey in the 1st inning. Billy Hamilton hit liner to right field that he turned into a hustle double. Zack Cozart walked and Joey Votto singled to load the bases with none out. Eugenio Suarez hit a drive deep to left-center that Ian Happ caught at the track, the runners at second and third tagged and Hamilton scored. Scooter Gennett hit a shallow fly to left that Kyle Schwarber settled under. Cozart tagged, and for the second time in three games, Kyle got him at home for a double play.

The Cubs answered the Cincinnati run in a very big way in the bottom of the 1st inning. Ben Zobrist and Schwarber both lashed singles to left field against Bailey, Kris Bryant then walked to load the bags. Anthony Rizzo came up and hit a deep fly similar to Suarez's shot, but Rizzo's drive went over the wall in left field for a grand slam: just like that it was 4-1 Chicago. Homer then got the next three batters 1-2-3 to end the inning.

Lack had more trouble in the top of the 2nd, Billings Mustangs legend, Jesse Winker singled. Jose Peraza then walked and both runners advanced on a balk. Tucker Barnhart, swinging on a 3-0 count, popped out to second and slammed his bat in frustration. Pitcher Bailey grounded to Rizzo at first, Tony went home with the throw and Winker was out. After Hamilton walked, Cozart flied out to Schwarber to end the inning.

The Cubs added to their lead in the bottom of the 3rd inning. Rizzo hit a two-out hustle double of his own off of Bailey. Alex Avila followed with a long opposite-field single off the wall in left to score Rizzo and make it 5-1.

John Lackey was great after the second, in fact, he retired the last ten men he faced. The Northsiders' got another run in the bottom of the 6th inning. Jason Heyward walked and scored when Tommy La Stella, hitting for Lackey, doubled off the wall in left.

Hector Rondon came on in the 7th and got two quick outs on a Peraza fly out and a Barnhart strike out. Then another former Mustang (yes I go to a lot of their games) Phillip Ervin hit his first career homer to left. Hamilton reached on an infield hit that got just by Hector and advanced to second on a passed ball. That wouldn't matter, unfortunately not because Cozart got out, instead he hit a long bomb to left and it was 6-4. Brian Duensing relieved Rondon and got Joey Votto to finally supress the rally.

Duensing gave up a double to Suarez just over Jason Heyward's head in right to open the 8th. After a Gennett ground out, Joe Maddon called for Carl Edwards to face pinch-hitter Adam Duvall. The Edwards roller coaster took another dive as Duvall took him deep to left to tie the game at six all.  CJ got the next two, but the damage was done.

Wandy Peralta gave up a double into the left-center gap from Javy Baez to open the 9th. Jon Jay pinch-hit trying to bunt, but walked on four pitches. Zobrist tried to bunt and appeared to get hit in the foot, on appeal first base umpire Chris Conroy said he bunted at it so it was a strike. Maddon lost it and got ejected by Conroy, in fact, I think it was the second maddest I've ever seen him. Zo did his job with a weak grounder to the pitcher that advanced the runners. Blake Wood entered for Peralta and Brian Price called for five infielders. Albert Almora struck out, but a wild pitch to Kris Bryant allowed Baez to scamper home, Cubs win 7-6!

Source: FanGraphs

John Wasn't Lackey-ing

After struggling early John Lackey settled down nicely in his start. It seemed like he was battling control problems early, possibly due to sweaty hands? He even stole a base in the 4th inning for the first time in his career, sure he got picked off later in the inning, but still. John was looking for his sixth-straight win, a feat he had never performed in his career. It looked like it was very likely to happen before the bullpen collapse.

Dr. Hector and Mr. Edwards

It seems like Hector Rondon and Carl Edwards have been all over the map this season, it's either lights-out or a total disaster for both this year. Rondon looked great to start his outing and then the wheels came off with two down. Edwards was brilliant escaping a jam last night, he was just as bad tonight. The Cubs second-half relief issues are starting to get more concerning each time a game like Wednesday happens.

Schwarbinator Returns?

Before striking out in the 7th inning Kyle Schwarber had reached base eight straight times at the plate. War Bear has begun to work better at bats the last few days, the question is will it lead to a surge in production? It's still too soon to tell, it was also nice to see him make a big defensive play on his double play in the 1st.

Random Reference

Remember I said it was the second maddest I ever saw Joe. This is the maddest.

Three Stars

#3- Joey Votto: not based on anything tonight, Votto saw his streak of reaching base at least twice snapped at 20. One more he would have tied the all-time record held by Ted Williams, he's good.

#2- John Lackey: 6 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 6 K, and 3 BB, should have gotten him a win on Wednesday, but all's well that ends well.

#1- Anthony Rizzo: 2-4, GS, 2B, 4 RBI, 2 R, you hit a grand slam, you get first star.

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  • Cubs win in the bottom of the 9th, Cardinals lose in the bottom of the 9th, and I'm happy.

    I'm with you Sean on Joey Votto. I tip my cap to him. I frankly was hoping he'd tie the record (just as long as the good guys still won).

  • Bullpen better get it figured out... My wife is (& myself too) tired of me throwing my socks at the TV as "relief" pitcher after relief pitcher create a fire & throw gas on it. Relief? That's comical.... & stressful, not relief.

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    In reply to Milk Stout:

    If you get good movement, or have plus velocity on your sock you might get to join the bullpen.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Well I can dance funny w/the best of them... just ask my embarrassed kids. :o)

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Yes, but can he throw a towel???

  • In reply to IVYADDICT:

    Haven't tried... mainly because I've never had Larry Rothschild as a pitching coach.

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    In reply to IVYADDICT:

    I don't know. There are a lot of people who want to "throw in the towel" on the bullpen at this point.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    What closer will be available this off season? What price will Davis get?

    As you can tell i dont think Edwards or obviously Rondon will be the answer next year.

    Here are 3 signings i see the cubs need to make this off season:

    1. TOR. 3yr deal
    2. CLOSER. 3yr deal
    3. UTILITY GUY 1-2yr deal

    They better spend the money now while they can. Because 2021 will get very expensive.

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    In reply to bleachercreature:

    A TOR starter for a 3yr deal? If so I doubt a TOR starter agrees to a 3 year deal. If we want to trade for one that will cost some significant players off the big league roster since our minor leagues no longer have the firepower to bring that guy in.

    Or did you mean something else by TOR?

  • Nice recap! Watching the video of Joe going off on the umpire several years ago, I'm not sure if he was more upset then or tonight. In the video he almost looked like he was in disbelief at how terrible of a call it was. Tonight he was very angry and I almost thought his finger pointing may have touched the umpire. He was so upset, rightfully so. Probably didn't help that less than a week ago the umpire blew a strike three call to end the game with Zobrist up to bat. As well as yesterday on the Bryant call at third. It looked like Bryant beat that throw and the reply review literally took like five seconds. I think Joe has a reason to be so hot. Glad they pulled it out.

  • It looked like Duvall hit a pretty good pitch from CJ. He must have guessed right. Pitch was up a little, but broke two feet.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    and flat

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    I love to watch Votto and wish he had tied the record Wed night. He is a first ballot HOF and it's a pleasure to see him play. I'm glad we won, but if we had done it in the bottom of the 10th that would have been fine with me.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I've seen a few comments here referring to Votto as "first ballot" HOF. He's great, but not that great. I like Votto. He's really good. He's very likely a HOFer. But he would not be a HOFer if he retired today and he isn't off the charts good enough to be a "first ballot" HOF.

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    In reply to TTP:

    He might not be a first ballot HOF in the literal sense not because he is insufficient in his ability but because there might be a backlog of also deserving talent. Since HOF voters are limited in how many "votes" they can cast he might not make that cut. But, then again, he might. IMO Yes, he is THAT good. He is generally considered to be a good defender, has a career OPS+ (which attempts to correct for home ballpark) of 158 per BR. His "slash line" is an impressive .313/.427/.541. That is an impressive career already. Granted, his "rate" stats may drop as he ages the fact is he doesn't strike out much, draws a ton of BB and has plenty of power to keep pitchers "honest" and I don't foresee those skills declining THAT much.

  • In reply to TTP:

    He isn't retiring today. If first ballot truly meant something, he would deserve it. He's a slam dunk HoF, especially in an era that values OBP.

  • In reply to Stubbs:

    Albert Pujols is a first ballot HOF. My only point is Votto is not a first ballot HOF -- not yet and maybe never. Not based on my understanding of how that terms has been used over the years.

    Slam dunk HOF? I don't think he's worthy of the hall right now. Not by first basemen standards. 253 careers HRs? For a first basemen? Just 80 more than Mark Grace and a career avg only 10 points higher than Grace. His career OBP is great, but that might be inflated by the fact that he's not had great protection hitting behind him in the order.

    Again, don't get me wrong. Joey Votto is very, very good. I like him. A lot. But let's not get carried away.

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    In reply to TTP:

    Players with a higher BA, OBP and Slugging % than Votto are:
    He's in rare company.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    That's one way to slice it. His Career WAR ranking, he's in 262th place. He'll be adding to it for sure, but he's gonna be 34 in a couple of weeks.

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    In reply to TTP:

    There's more to 1B numbers than HR. Comparing him to Grace isn't a bad idea. Both were considered very good 1B but both lacked huge HR totals.

    But the difference in their career OBP is around 40 points, the difference in their career SLG is nearly 100 points. This may decrease as Votto ages, but far enough to make them comparable in my mind.

    Also, as his career progresses I can easily imagine him hitting 100-150 more HR. I believe it is very possible that his numbers will decline as he ages but he has built up an impressive resume for a 33 year old.

    FWIW: I agree that Pujols is a first-ballot HOF. I am not arguing that this is not true. Nor am I saying that he is the "baseline" for a first-ballot HOF.

  • The Cubs didn't deserve to win after letting a last place team back into the game when up 6-1, but I'll take it. No idea why Maddon pulled Duensing for Carl when he knows Carl struggles on back to back outings and the lone hit Duensing gave up would have been caught earlier in the game when the wind was calm.
    That said, thank you Red Sox (and Molina).
    Magic number = Lackey over both Milwaukee and Hades.

  • In reply to charactercounts:

    Cubs had several good game saving defensive plays. Including two Reds throw out on close plays at the plate. Javy had had nifty back hand and showed off his arm, Davis and Rizzo combined for a close play on Hamilton. Avila handled himself really well on tags at the plate as well. Red's capitalized on a couple 'cookies', but played an exceptional game.

  • 13 Strikeouts! Javy had 3. Why do I see images of Starlin Castro when he bats. What's causing so many? Nervous? Eyesight? Hats off to Schwarber. Nice DP. Why did the Cubs give Renteria a WS ring? Hope he shows it off to Hawk "I'm wasted" Harrelsen. That'll fix him.

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    Castro was never a huge strikeout guy.

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    Instead of mentioning the good ab that baez had in the 9th that led to a lead off double with 0 outs and eventually became the game winning run.You focus on the 3 k's and give hats off to a guy hitting .193 who just had a streak of 8 consecutive k's.Very strange

  • In reply to bolla:

    Yes. Thank you, Bolla. Javy's double won the game after the pen blew it.

    I just don't understand how others fail to recognize and appreciate what Javy is: An enormous, unique talent that can impact the outcome of a game in more ways than just about anyone I've ever seen. News flash: Javy will strike out more than we'd all like. But he is a true star and the most exciting Cub player of my lifetime. And he's still so young.

    The best part of Addy being out is Javy plays everyday. Just the way I like it.

    Go Javy!

  • In reply to TTP:

    Agreed people want to rip on Baez for everything. And they always try to tie Baez to Castro. I wish people would realize how good of a hitter Castro was and still is.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Castro is not, and has never been a great hitter. Batting average wise, he's fine. But he doesn't walk (never has... actually his career BB% matches Baez') and he doesn't slug enough to make up for it. This year he's producing a 116 wRC+, which is very good. He was at 117 in 2014, and was at or below 100 every other year in his career.

    Tying Baez to Castro... I agree. I don't get it. They're extremely different players. Baez Ks a lot, but not like, egregiously more than MLB average. He's at 28.5% this year (with very good power to complement), and was 24% last year. MLB average has been 21%ish since Baez has been a big leaguer.
    Aside from that, Baez' baseball IQ and instincts are off the charts. At times he's able to slow the game down on defense and on the bases (even at the plate when he's locked in) like few other players. Castro always seemed aloof. Like he got very little out of the talent he possessed.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    Your last statement is false. Castro couldn't have put up the numbers he has in his major league career by getting very little out of the talent he possesses. I disagree with your assessment of Castro's hitting ability. We all can find at Stat about a player that might put them in the average group. Castro is a good hitter, it doesn't matter if he doesn't walk enough. Castro doesn't swing and miss much so to punish him for that isn't fair. Castro is a contact guy.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    His numbers aren't good though (career; his numbers this year are good). He has too much talent to have put up the poor numbers he has over his career. He'll amass a large number of hits, but that's all really.
    What stat of Castro's tells you he's a good hitter? The job of a hitter is to not make outs, and Castro makes too many outs. Stats like wOBA and wRC+ bake in all aspects of hitting, including patience and power. They measure a hitter's production against the average hitter in the league at that time. Castro, for his career, has been slightly worse than average.
    For what it's worth, I love Castro. I loved watching him as a Cub, i was bummed when he was traded, and it makes me sad that he wasn't a part of the championship team. But a unbiased look at the numbers reveals an average to slightly below average MLB hitter.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    I guess your numbers has to be unbiased then. You backed off the walks. U have your opinion and I have mine. Castro is a good hitter.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Who are the people that 'always try to tie Baez to Castro'?
    Just askin?

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    Read the comments.

  • In reply to TTP:

    I agree 100%.

  • In reply to TTP:

    What? Javy is a "true star" - say what! According to what standard?
    If we had 7 other 'true stars' like Javy starting, we'd be a sub .500 baseball team, that would be really struggling to score runs on a daily basis.
    And you might like JAvy playing SS everyday, but the fact is, he is barely an average MLB SS. He is a very good defensive 2B, who runs the bases well, when he can get on.
    Lets keep it real about Javy, until he actually proves otherwise. He is wildly inconsistent at this point of his career. But yes, I do agree that he is 'still so young' - but hasn't proven anything yet.

  • Castro is trash. thats why he made the all star game this year and is hitting over .300 this year. pure garbage

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    I think Castro's biggest flaw (as a Cub) was a loss of focus. I just don't think the front office trusted him. The biggest reason that he was 'odd man out' was Russell and Baez.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    Close, IMO, his biggest flaw as a Cub was not living up to impossible expectations. He dominated and flew thru the minors. He started his career w such Excitement in Cincy, that the expectations were even ratched up to in enormous level.

    I feel like Baez is getting close to that expectation level from some fans and even to a lessor degree Russell after coming up so young and even making the all star team.

    Honestly, its really just human nature to expect them to take the next step forward. Unfortunately there is nothing about baseball progress thats normal. Like the great John used to say "Progress is not always linear"

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    I like the win, ugly or not. I do have one thing though, Jay and Caratini were the only bats left on the Cubs bench in the 9th. Why use Jay to bunt? Why not use a Starting Pitcher there? I did not like bunting with Zobrist and Almora as the next two hitters, but that is beside the point. If you are going to use the best bat available on your bench while tied in the 9th, at least let him swing. Just my opinion, but I see a troubling trend of bunting late in a close game with a team that has struggled mightily in the situational hitting dept. That all said, a win is a win, and first place in August is 1st place in August.

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    In reply to PorkChopSamich:

    Lester is a very good bunter too. Good Point PCS.

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    In reply to PorkChopSamich:

    I am generally opposed to bunting too. But this might be an exception. All the team needed was 1 run and they won the game. Zobrist and Almora's main skills on offense is their ability to put the bat on the ball. I am willing to trade relative assurance of getting a runner to 2B at the cost of an out and then if EITHER of the next two guys gets a hit the game is over--or can coax the pitcher into a WP--it gives them a couple of cracks at getting just one hit to drive in the runner. I dislike the bunt because it costs an out that could prevent the team from scoring multiple runs. But if 1 run WINS the game then I am fine playing to try to increase my chances of getting that 1 run.

  • In reply to PorkChopSamich:

    I'd bunt in front Zo everyday and twice on Sunday even when he is struggling.

  • Why does PorkChopSamich always post just before lunch?

  • Cubs sign 6'5" lefty who throws 96-98mph from the Independent League Evansville Otters has been assigned to AA Smokies.

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    In reply to CubFanStuckInStl:

    How does a guy who is 6'5", lefty, and has an upper-90's fastball end up in an independent league? It makes me suspicious that there is something very wrong with him that is not being mentioned.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Probably has the control of a combo of the two Wild Thing's ( Rick Vaugh prior to getting glasses and Mitch Williams)

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Looking at his K:BB ratio that sounds about right. But it is a minor league contract. Maybe the team saw something "fixable" about him. And, if it doesn't get fixed they aren't out much.

  • Chris Nunn is his name.

  • FYI
    I am without internet today so I won't be able to post a minors recap. I'll try to touch on the action from Wednesday in Fridays recap.

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