The All-Star break is over, and we had to suffer through late-night West-ish coast baseball (Arizona is in one of those weird zones where they should probably change with Daylight Savings Time but choose not to, but they're not at a coast). Suffice it to say that it was mostly underwhelming when we did stay up to pay attention, but there are a lot of bright spots ahead as we wind down to the trade deadline and thank our lucky stars that we're not the Astros. Let's get to this series recap between two of the worst teams in MLB (no exaggeration, though the Cubs remain mostly watchable to me, anyway):
Chicago Cubs vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, Chase Field
Friday, July 18 - Rizzo 4, D'Backs 5
Once upon a time when Dabynsky felt like blogging, he wondered why Edwin Jackson was doing so poorly as a Cub. In this start, he made maybe one major mistake (the Paul Goldschmidt home run) and then was taken out much earlier than I expected with the Cubs still up 4-3. Jackson had gotten BABIP'd to death the inning before in giving back two runs, and after the Goldschmidt bomb, he was yanked after 5.1 innings and only 88 pitches. Unfortunately the brothers beard, James Russell and Brian Schlitter, blew the lead and that was ultimately the game right there. At least Anthony Rizzo was awesome.
Saturday, July 19 - Cubs 3, D'Backs 9
Once again we wonder, what is wrong with Travis Wood? The former All-Star (just last year, even) hasn't had an enjoyable season so far, and it's easy to see why sometimes. He walks too many people, balls put into play turn into hits at an alarming rate, and every now and then a guy makes an error behind him (Arismendy Alcantara, you're excused because you just learned how to play center field). Travis was in line for the win at one point but then walked the bases loaded and watched them get cleared on a Miguel Montero double. There's really no defense against the walk, so Travis needs to help himself in that department, but obviously some adjustments are needed. Starlin Castro had a couple hits in this game so that was nice to see. Welington Castillo had a solo homer and Mike Olt hit a sacrifice fly to score Junior Lake amid questions of what to do with Olt and Lake since they're both struggling so much despite manufacturing that run together.
Sunday, July 20 - Cubs 2, D'Backs 3
This was Star Wars Day for the Diamondbacks as the Stormtroopers escorted the umpires out onto the field.
Starters Jake Arrieta and Josh Collmenter traded zeroes through the first half of the game. That was until Anthony Rizzo (who else) deposited home run number 23 into deep right, or a galaxy far far away, whichever came first. The Diamondbacks tied the game in the bottom of that inning (the sixth) on back-to-back doubles off the left field wall, which sucked. Rizzo then made a great catch on a foul popup but fell into the dugout, allowing Arizona to score the go-ahead run automatically given the dead play and the one-base penalty. The rules that govern that situation are in MLB Rule 6 and 7 for those of you who wish to peruse. Len Kasper on Twitter suggested that the rule is in place to prevent fielders from intentionally going out of the field of play to kill a play on an automatic dead ball, ergo the penalty, and I'm okay with that explanation even if it sucks. It's actually similar to the penalty on a ball that's throw out of play with runners on base. I joked that John Baker probably should have kept running to make sure he could catch Anthony's legs so he wouldn't fall in, but whatcha gonna do.
For his part, Jake Arrieta struck out 8, walked 3, and gave up two runs, one legit and one on that tough luck play in his 6.2 innings of work. He can stay. James Russell, on the other hand, couldn't get an out and allowed an inherited run to score, so Jake got a quality start and James probably screwed up his trade value just a tad (though we all know what he is, right?). Arismendy Alcantara has been in a slump since the All-Star Break, but hey, you can't expect him to be inhuman forever. The Cubs have already made some roster decisions (see below) and will make more to perhaps keep Alcantara on the MLB squad since he has shown that he belongs. Alcantara dropped an RBI double thanks to his speed and Mark Trumbo's LOL-worthy lack of defense to pull the Cubs within one in the eighth, but that was it. Swept in the desert.
Chicago Cubs vs. San Diego Padres, Wrigley Field
After a travel day, the Cubs will start their next home stand against the San Diego Padres. It'll be a three-game series, all night games, which I'm sure the neighborhood just loves. Here's some news regarding the pitchers replacing the departed Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel:
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) July 20, 2014
#Cubs Renteria says Wada will start Wednesday
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) July 20, 2014
And now you know...and knowing is half the battle! Anno will be at the Tuesday night game to see if the Billy Cub guys get themselves arrested. To the matchups and broadcast info!