Feast or Famine: Marlins 2, Cubs 0

John Lackey pitched as fine of a game as can be asked of him anymore, and his offense repaid him by scoring no runs. Not one. I don’t subscribe to the baseball superstition that a team needs to “save some for tomorrow” when they’re scoring a lot of runs, but when they plate eleven one night and get blanked the next, it’s hard not to give it at least some serious consideration.

The two Miami runs came in the way you’d expect: one from Giancarlo Stanton’s mighty swing, and one from a timely sacrifice by Christian Yellich.

Lackey worked pretty nicely through the first two innings until Stanton tagged him for a solo shot in the 3rd. After securing two outs, Lackey worked Stanton to a hitter-friendly 2-1 count and then hung a curveball for the Marlins slugger to abolish into the seats. 1-0, Miami.

The Cubs offense was mostly ineffectual, scattering singles here and there and even a double from Ian Happ, but spoiling each of these chances with measly groundouts, popups and poorly-timed strikeouts. Miami starter Jose Urena worked artfully to scatter their five hits across six innings, and he turned the game over to his bullpen to handle the final nine outs. Which they did, yielding only a walk and a single and then benefiting from double plays in the 8th and 9th innings to spoil anything the Cubs were to start.

The second Marlins run came in the 6th, owed to Dee Gordon’s leadoff single and then stolen base during Stanton’s at bat. Gordon made it to third on Miguel’s Montero’s throwing error, which set him up to score after Stanton was hit by a pitch and Yellich hit a first-pitch sacrifice fly to center.

Marlins win, 2-0.

Source: FanGraphs

Time to shift the order again?

Anthony Rizzo is the best hitter on the team, but we all must understand that leading off is not what’s right for him or for this team. He drew one walk tonight, and otherwise did not get on base. He’s done a masterful job during his tenure as a leadoff hitter, but it cannot be permanent.

With the hopeful return of Ben Zobrist to the lineup soon, it’s time for Rizzo to return to the second or third spot in the order and leave leading off to Zobrist.

Take both the ebb and flow

The same team that scored eleven last night couldn’t muster anything 24 hours later. To borrow from Vonnegut, “So it goes.”

Don’t read to much into it, and don’t declare that the Cubs are “back” when they score in double digits and then throw up your hands and declare them all lost souls when they get stymied. I’m tired of myself saying it, but the division is the most winnable in baseball, and the Cubs have some room to improve their roster at the deadline.

A focus on the positive – Justin Grimm

It’s minutiae and I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m fine with beating this drum: Justin Grimm is pitching like his old self since returning from being optioned to Iowa and returning almost a month ago. In that time, he has allowed just one earned run and only three hits. Tonight he pitched almost two innings and kept the offense in it, should they have been able to throw together a few runs in the late innings. They didn’t, but it should not take away from Grimm’s performance.

Three Stars of Game
Third Star- Ian Happ (2 for 4, 2B)

An unfortunate double play late in the game may have stifled a rally, but it appears as though Happ’s bat has found life again.

Second Star- Jose Urena (6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K)

The Cubs couldn’t figure him out, other than Kris Bryant, who walked three times, and Ian Happ, who got two hits.

First Star- Giancarlo Stanton (2 for 3, HR, 2B, RBI)

It was a typical Stanton night.


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  • Next time the Cubs score a lot of runs & look like they're back I'm going to bet on them to lose the following game. I've never seen a team that is more schizophrenic than this one. I hope Lackey didn't intentionally hit Stanton, but I also wouldn't put it past him either

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    In reply to Bamacub:

    Can you freaking believe this Heckly and Jeckyl offense? I can't say I am surprised. This is why I was trying to temper expectations yesterday in the game thread.

    I am starting to maybe think those who have been saying for about a month, this is what this team is this year, a win 2, lose 1, win 2, lose 2, win 1, lose 2 team, a .500 team. I refused to believe it then, but maybe they are right?

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    All true. But at least we had 2016.

  • When you score 11 runs you should start the same lineup the next day not matter who is pitching. Not Joe. Watch me. I can really move people around. Bah!

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    In reply to veteran:

    I agree 100% but it probably wouldn't have mattered. He has a built in excuse, facing a right handed starter tonight.

    This team is basically the same team as last year but can't even get a week of 2016 offense together this summer.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    But if he would just play the EXACT same lineup, we'd actually be able to see if it's the players not meshing, or Joe outsmarting​himself; we won't know until we actually play the same EXACT position players the game following an offensive outburst.......

  • In reply to veteran:

    Joe didn't play the exact same lineup every game last year and the team seemed to do OK. This year, every loss brings out the armchair managers.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    You think there are a lot of armchair managers now? Wait until this team gets lambasted, and run out of town, by Washington. Everyone will be questioning his decisions.

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    The team has put together a very nice batch of 10 games, if nothing else. The pitching has kept around a 3 ERA, we have produced a top 10 offense, but we are prone to get shut down at any given time. Just too often very little interest in adjusting our approach.

    But they did actually out-hit the Marlins 2:1.

    The double plays are out of hand

  • In reply to Nick Perry:

    Good points. Cubs are close to where they need to be. They are playing better, will get guys off the DL soon, and some of the struggling players are picking it up. No team has ran away from them and lots of important baseball yet to be played.

  • Leo Durocher managed the 1969 Cubs with the same lineup every day and ended up losing a 9-game lead to the Mets in 1 month. Keep juggling, Joe, it will all end well in September. The Cubs will win this division and we will be in the playoffs. GO JOE, you're doing great! We have a winning record over the last 10 games, I believe.

  • In reply to Tennwolfeman:

    LMAO "GO JOE, you're doing great!" Too funny. I'll have what Tennwolfeman is drinking.

  • We've won the last 2 series......if we win this one we can't do much better than that.......

    Lackey DID pitch a good game, finally......was glad to see that but every time we hit into double plays my one dog was hauling ass for the doggie door......he knew I wasn't happy......

    Go get em tomorrow!

  • So tired of hearing Joe's excuse of "We're young man, really young." Hey Joe, the dodgers have some youth, what about Houston? are they young. Yankee's young?

  • In reply to mwillie:

    Well, we did win the World Series with the young dudes. The lack of consistency is maddening.

  • No 2 out clutch hits. Russell had his chance as did Lackey (I hate the pitcher batting 8th, BTW). And Almora didn't produce either. In a tight game it is usually 1 or 2 hits that make the difference. And then giving up and unearned run with another error hurts. Lackey pitched about as well as expected. I will take 1 ER over 6 IP every start the rest of the season. Tough game to lose.

  • This inconsistent offense is why I would hate to trade away young prospects for pitching especially rental pitchers for this season.

    Really RISP hitting has been a sore spot for this offense the last 3 seasons.

  • And the great 2017 sleepwalk continues. Nothing kills the positive vibe of 11 runs and 16 hits faster than getting shut out the next night. I don't have the numbers but the GIDP this year seems off the charts. Or maybe it's always that way when the expectations are so high and the results so inconsistent.

    I'm still hanging my hat on the fact that the Cubs, in the two years Joe Maddon has been here, are 100-48 after the all-star break. Great teams and managers/coaches are made in crunch time, stretch runs, postseasons, etc. I think we'll see Joe stabilize the lineup more as the season progresses. But it's getting harder and harder to expect great things again this season as the team continues to wallow in mediocrity.

    This week saw Jimmy Butler, Nik Hjalmarrson, and Artemi Panarin leave Chicago. Wonder if Theo might have a shocker up his sleeve soon also.

  • Putin and the Russian hackers ate my comment again.

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    In reply to NoDoubtAboutIt:

    ^ This! Love it!

  • Urias is having a major shoulder surgery. It's the same one Prior had to have, although not as severe. He is going to miss anywhere from 14-18 months. The list of pitchers that had the same surgery is not very promising. The Dodgers did everything they could to try to lessen the injury risk & it didn't help.

  • In reply to Bamacub:

    Flat Arm Syndrome. When his plant foot hits the ground his arm is not in the up position--palm facing ground hence "flat arm" name. Death move. Prior, Wood, Thor, Fernandez, Parker, Buddy among the numerous victims. And all have surgery.

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    Thank you, Jared, for the "take the ebb and flow" section. One night the Cubs faced Jeff Locke, the next night they faced Urena. Baseball isn't like other sports where pretty much the same players take the field. Changing pitchers can make a HUGE difference in a game. That is why I try not to get too excited when the team does well for a game. I want so see them win 4 out of 5 or 4 out of 6. Losses will come. There will be games where the offense sputters. There will be games where the pitching staff dominates. There will be games where the offense is "unstoppable/2016 like" and there will be games where the pitchers can't get anyone out.

    Truly I am trying to focus on trajectories rather than the outcomes of individual games. Obviously, I am happy when they win and disappointed when they lose. But this season there has been way too much "reading into" things. Seeing omens of dominance/doom in every game. This is not 2016. But this team is still capable of making the playoffs and then it is just a matter of being "hot."

  • Last year we all talked about the Cubs' poor hitting with RISP. And that's been exacerbated this year.

    That said, Joel is right above. We've won two series in a row and we can still win this one. Urena pitched well and shut us down. Perhaps nothing more than that. And our SP has largely done well the last month or so.

    But it sure does seem that Genius Joe is moving players all over the line up simply for the sake of moving players all over the line up. No obvious rhyme or reason. No apparent attempt to figure out a more permanent, or even slightly more permanent line up. For instance, shocking that Genius Joe batting Schwarber 3rd the day before he was sent to AAA. That was a real head scratcher.

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    In reply to TTP:

    I don't recall reading much complaining about hitting with RISP, but I don't claim to remember everything. Most of what I DO remember complaining about at this point last year was the bullpen.

    As for "Genius Joe" I think he is looking for something that will start tot click for the offense. The difference between the night where the Team scored 11 runs and the night where they were shut out was Willson Contreras and Mark Zagunis were replaced by Miguel Montero and John Jay. Jay has been red-hot for a while now and Montero contributed a hit. Maybe Contreras goes off last night. But I think 0-4 would be just as likely. Remember, hitting is REALLY hard. Joe seems more willing than most managers to play the match-up game. Sometimes this results in changing line-ups every day. If he finds one that seems to "click" he will likely stay with it. But scoring a lot of runs in 1 game doesn't mean that the team is "clicking." To me it more likely means they ran into a much tougher pitcher last night. Not ever match up is a good fit for Almora, or Happ, or John Jay or any of the other "part-time" players. They'll play themselves into experience. We can argue the merits of it but Joe is convinced that there are some situations where a guy is bound to succeed and situations where he is bound to fail. Joe would rather be "inconsistent" and feel he is putting the players in the best situations to succeed than filling out nearly identical line-ups every night in the hopes that players get "comfortable."

    As for Schwarber I think Joe was trying everything he could to get him going. It hasn't worked so far. I am hoping that he is able to right the ship and come back and tear up the league.

  • I have no problem with Maddon making out the lineups. I just wish he would give the lineup card to Dave Martinez so he can make the correct changes that give the Cubs the best chance of winning. Todays lineup is a real head scratcher.

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