Yep, totally supposed to do this last night. But as the faithful readers of my hockey blog know, sometimes things just get away from me at night. Especially when I attend the event, and especially as fascinating of one as last night was. Yes, a 1-0 game might not interest most, but Jason Hammel staring down what might be the NL’s best pitcher so far this year certainly holds the attention of most of us.
When this week started, looking the most brutal week of what’s been the hardest part of the Cubs schedule, seeing Kershaw and Greinke at the top probably had most Cubs fans in a bargaining state. Let’s maybe get one of these, or just split the series with wins on the back half of it, and if we finish the week 3-4 that really won’t be the worst thing in the world when things get easier in July. Well, the Cubs beat both of them, and now have a chance to kickstart this season into a frenzy. Yeah, I know, baseball doesn’t work that way, but you know how you’ll feel if the Cubs come out of this week 5-2 or something.
Let’s get to the minutiae, shall we?
-Obviously, the star of the show was Hammel, who gave up two hits, one walk, no runs, and wasn’t even threatened until the 8th inning, basically. Hammel had a couple of wonky starts, getting off to a rough beginning in Cleveland last time out before recovering and being thwarted by a rain deal after getting basically shelled by the Reds. But in both of those he was able to hold the Cubs in it just enough for them to tie both games (and both became losses, sadly. According to BrooksBaseball.net Hammel really upped the use of his slider last night, throwing it almost nearly half the time. That’s way up from his last two starts and actually the most he’s used it all year. Good to see the plans change when needed, and considering all the power the Dodgers have staying away from the fastballs when you can is probably a good idea.
-As for the other starter, Greinke had to do a little more weaving out of trouble than his counterpart but always seemed to get the popup he needed with some high cheese. There’s also something special about a guy who wields a curve that makes the entire stadium gasp when he throws it, which he didn’t do as much last night. But the Cubs made him sweat through six innings, which is usually a good thing except that Dodgers’ pen has been so good this year you’re not really getting much of a break when you get to them.
-I’ve never understood how anyone hits Kenley Jansen, and am overly impressed that Denorfia was able to get solid contact when down two strikes.
-When Vin Scully says Joc Pederson is the best Dodger center fielder he’s ever seen, you take notice because he’s seen more baseball than any of us have seen of anything, ever. While Pederson didn’t have to make any great plays last night, being at the game every time a ball was hit to him your gaze would shift from home right after contact and when it switched to Pederson he was already on the sprint and heading to the spot. A read off the bat is probably the most important thing for that position, and he clearly has it.
-Joe Maddon really hates bunting, huh?
-It was only natural that after complaining about Mike Baxter and Matt Szczur being back-to-back in the lineup on Twitter they would start the game-winning rally. I could stop a 100-care funeral procession, I tells ya.
Think that about sums it up. Onwards.