Morning Cubs Roundup: Did the Cubs just save themselves from drowning?

Willson Contreras (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

Willson Contreras (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

Last Game: Cubs 10, White Sox 0

Up Next: Cubs (33-25) @ White Sox (34-24) 6:10 CST

Game Recap

Forget Yu Darvish's seven shutout innings, and the two encouraging perfect innings by Dan Winkler and Andrew Chafin which completed the shutout... the Cubs scored some freakin' runs, ladies and gentlemen.

You can breathe again.

Hopefully, this will allow the Cubs to loosen their grip on their bats, as well.

You could tell it was weighing on all of them. As frustrating as the recent offensive futility was for us to watch, it had to be worse to live through. These are all professionals with a lot of pride. All have reached the pinnacle of their profession and proven themselves time and time again. And for all of them to drown at the same time, for such an extended stretch... I almost can't imagine how they must have felt.

"Picking your teammate up" when they fail is a fundamental of baseball culture. Given that the game, and hitting in particular, is often described as one of failure, where being successful on average just once in three tries will rank you among the elite in the sport, the mantra makes sense. Knowing you, and in turn your teammates are going to fail often, it has to be a psychologically stabilizing force to have faith others will pick up the slack when you aren't pulling your weight, and you can return the favor later. It helps weather the natural ebb and flow throughout a season.

But it is truly rare for an entirety of a team to fall into the type of icy waters all Cubs hitters slipped into of late. Nobody was coming through. The ship was sinking, but unlike a Titanic-style insufficient number of life boats, on this journey there appeared to be none. No one could find a place of safety where they could reach down and pull another out of the water. It sure seemed like they were out of time to save themselves before they sank into the deep, dark abyss of another playoff failure.

Until last night.

A solo oppo SchwarBomb opened the scoring in the 2nd. It wasn't much, but it surely had to feel like someone finally discovered some place safe and dry. The homer gave the Cubs an early lead, something they've rarely had this month. You still couldn't feel confident, or even comfortable, really. But when Willson Contreras blasted a three-run shot the next inning, the outpouring of relief was evident: in his expression, in his turn toward his teammates and the shouts which followed, and of course in the epic nature of the bat flip which capped it all off.

The Cubs continued to hit with power. Javy annihilated a pitch he has often missed this season. Victor Caratini even got in on the action with his first homer of the year. But the team also got a couple of clutch hits. Luck was also on their side for the first time in a while. After so many at'em balls over the final two games in Pittsburgh, hard and soft hit balls found holes. It was a complete offensive effort.

Maybe they are still drifting in the middle of a hostile ocean. Or maybe Willson's blast was a metaphorical call of "Land Ho". We'll have to wait and see, but at least for one day, hope has returned.

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

  • Magic Number: 1 !!!!!
  • With the playoffs fast approaching and Ildemaro Vargas still on the IL, the Cubs need for an extra infielder intensified to the point where they selected the contract of journeyman Patrick Wisdom from South Bend. The Cubs were without an extra infielder on the 40-man roster since Zack Short was dealt at the deadline (the only other position players available were catcher Miguel Amaya and outfielder Albert Almora Jr).
  • The still-0-for-as-a-Cub Jose Martinez was optioned back to South Bend to make room on the active roster. Martinez has some experience as a first baseman and outfielder but isn't a particularly reliable fielder anywhere. Wisdom's ability to play 3B (even if he isn't great there) gives the Cubs a little more flexibility.
  • To make room on the 40-man IL, prospect Manuel Rodriguez was moved to the 45-day IL. Rodriguez was hurt in ST, and from what I understood he had returned to full health, but given he was never added to the 60-man player pool that information may have been inaccurate. For those wondering why the Cubs had not moved him to the 45-day IL earlier in the season so that they would have the extra roster space to work with, a player on the 45-day IL receives MLB pay, and just as importantly for a prospect, they begin earning MLB service time. The Cubs clearly did not want to make that move, but with depth necessary for the playoffs, and now with so little time in the season, the salary and service time are negligible.

Filed under: Morning Cubs Roundup

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    Momentum Started ! Let's win a bunch of games in a row !!!! Our Cubs scored in 7 of 9 innings last night ! That's the kind of baseball I like to see !!!! Momentum !!! Go Cubs Go !!!! Ron

  • Some good insite on the Cubs and professional baseball there, as usual. I more of a Tony Perez/ Frank Robinson type after a big home run. That is, circle the bases and come back tomorrow and do it again without the bat flip, but if Anthony Rizzo likes it, so do I.

  • Momentum is always as far as the effectiveness of the next starting pitcher or the opposing pitcher and followed through with clutch situational hitting. Tonight's game is a good barometer to that set of cliches. The real thing is that the Sox are now getting nervous and tense especially if they fall behind tonight.

  • I'm going to repost comments I made on Friday's game, as they seem apropos to the Cubs current offensive situation.

    I have to be a contrarian here. I think Friday's victory is a disaster for the Cubs. They hammered a rookie pitcher with a 6.35 FIP, so what did they learn in the process--"swing hard and good things will happen". This approach will clearly not work in the playoffs, because they won't be seeing many (if any) 6.35 FIP pitchers. Depending on the Sox pitcher on Saturday, I would predict high K and low runs for the Cubs.

    Today the Cubs face Dane Dunning, a rookie with a 3.37 FIP. He has generated 26% K and 7.9% BB this year. Could be a challenging day for the Cub offense.

    I sincerely hope I'm wrong on my reading of the Cubs' offense. We'll get some clues today. GO CUBS!!

  • In reply to wthomson:

    I disagree about the diaster.....

    I don't beleve that major league players, look at a single game and deraw those kind of conclusions.

    Javy's always had this opinion whether he is 2 for 24 or on a hot streak.

    I don't see Rizzo, thinking I've struggled this season, but from this one game, I see "swing hard and good things will happen". is better idea than my current approach. So I am going to start swinging hard.

  • In reply to HJW49:

    IMHO the "swing hard and good things will happen" mentality far preceded last night's game--we have been discussing the 3-True-Outcomes for weeks here at the Den. What happened last night was a reinforcement of that mentality, which often works against a 6.35 FIP pitcher. Name a 6.35 FIP pitcher that we will see in the playoffs.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Cease!!

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Oops I thought Rizzo HR was last night, not 2 nights ago. But my point remains the same about players putting stuck in 3 or 4 at bats

  • Michael, another great report, loved the headline. Maybe Javy is loosening up since he batted left handed and smashed the ball for a hit in his last at bat when they were up 10 to 0. He got a standing ovation from his teammates. Do you think a lot of hitters are sort of lost because they cannot analyze their at bats this year on video?

  • In reply to shalin:

    It was fun to watch, but keep in mind that he got that hit off a 2nd baseman throwing in the 50-60's(?), not a pitcher (;-).

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    The Sox have crushed LHP this...season. Lets hope we can get ahead and give Jon some room for error. I hope Jon heads out there like it truly is the post season and throws shut out ball for at least 6! Go Cubs!

  • I'm a little irked how some writers like Jayson Stark were already crowing Trevor Bauer this week as Cy Young BEFORE Darvish's last outing. Lost in the shuffle of the cubs offensive outburst was Darvish playing the role of stopper once again. That was Yu's 5th victory this year following a cubs loss-allowing just 1 run in 33 combined innings in these starts. To me this could end up being one of the closer Cy Young votes in recent memory after Darvishs big win that the cubs needed. Bauer has the edge with a 1.73 ERA but Darvish has the edge in WAR (3.0 vs 2.5), FIP (2.22 vs 2.86), and xFIP (2.81 vs 3.24). Bauer has also pitched 1 less start then Darvish.

    I know front offices don't care wins and losses as much these days when they evaluate pitchers. But winning games should matter in a Cy Young race. I get that sometimes you have an unlucky .500 pitcher that was far more dominant then his competitors. In this case Bauer and Darvish have very similar stats, but Darvish has been the guy that's driven his team to victories Moreso then Bauer. Quite frankly the cubs don't win the division and maybe don't even make the playoffs with Yu stepping up in a down year for cubs stars. The cubs are 9-3 with a .750 winning percentage in Yus starts, while the Reds are only 6-5 in Bauer's starts. Bauer just hasn't had a meaningful impact on winning games for the Reds, and that should absolutely be factored into voting.

    All of this isn't even to mention that Darvish's schedule this year has been easily more grueling then Bauer's. Darvish is consistently asked to pitch against the cubs toughest opponents, and their aces on a number of occasions. Bauer has had 3 starts vs Milwaukee, starts vs KC, and 2 starts vs the pirates. Frankly a cupcake schedule. To me regardless of a small difference in ERA Darvish has been the most effective pitcher in the NL this year. No matter how the vote he's performed as well as anyone in baseball this season.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Nice post. Very true. I totally agree with you.

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    8 runs on home runs, 2 on misplays. Doesn't figure to happen in the playoffs.

  • Never know what’s gonna happen tonite. But Dunning doesn’t have that big fastball, that often makes many of our boys, flail away. So I think we score at least 5 or 6 tonight. I hope that’s enough.

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