There Was No Joy in Pittsburgh...Ever; Cubs 8, Pirates 6

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Much of the discussion between yesterday’s Cubs victory and tonight’s contest centered around the slide of Anthony Rizzo into catcher Elias Díaz.  Meatheads from across the country called for Rizzo to be beaned at some point of the contest.  MLB vindicated the Pirates when it announced that the slide should have been called interference, as Rizzo deviated from his path to the plate.  Joe Maddon probably didn’t help matters out by openly disagreeing with the interpretation.  So…would the Pirates exact revenge? It’s kinda hard to tell, actually.  Rizzo was not hit, though he was close to being hit on ball four of an eighth inning walk.  Was it intentional? Willson Contreras, the next batter was hit, and then Javier Báez received a high-and-tight pitch as well.  For their part, the 7,000 or so Pirates fans who showed up booed Rizzo to no avail.

So with all that to digest, the Cubs and Pirates had a game of baseball to play.

The Cubs made an attempt at a two-out rally in the top of the first inning.  Kris Bryant got it going with a single, which was followed up by a double by Anthony Rizzo.  Unfortunately, right fielder Austin Meadows was able to get the ball in quickly enough that Bryant could not score.  Willson Contreras was then hit by a pitch to load the bases for Ian Happ – who would not have a very good inning.  Happ flew out to end the inning.

It got pretty ugly in the bottom of the inning.  With one out, Austin Meadows drove a ball to center field.  Ian Happ didn’t pick up a ball that should have been caught on the edge of the warning track.  As it was, it ended up being yet another misplayed double.  The Pirates were aggressive all night, swinging early in the count.  The next pitch was ripped down the line by Starling Marte to plate Meadows.  1-0 Pirates.  Josh Bell followed that with a first-pitch single to center field, which brought home Marte.  2-0 Pirates.  Lester managed to get out of the inning with a David Freese force out (Lester bounced a throw to second, and the turn was not fast enough to complete two), and Sean Rodriguez flew out to end the inning.

The expression on Addison Russell’s face was just too much to pass up on this one.

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Meanwhile, Pirates pitcher Nick Kingham settled in in, and baffled the Cubs early.  He worked quickly, and relatively efficiently for the first four innings, looking his strongest in the third inning when he struck out the side of Ben Zobrist, Kyle Schwarber, and Kris Bryant, 1-2-3.  The Pirates would add to their lead in the bottom of the second, as Elias Díaz smacked a no-doubt homer to left field.  With the Pirates batting aggressively, and Kingham’s relative dominance, the first four innings flew by, in just over one hour of game play.  Commissioner Manfred would be proud.

The Cubs finally broke through in the top of the fifth inning, and it was the pitcher Lester who set the table.  With one out, he singled to right field.  Ben Zobrist followed with a home run over the 21-foot wall in right field to make the score 3-2.  It’s nice to see Zobrist have a nice bit of success this year after a rough 2017.  He reminds me of a guy I played softball with when I was still in my younger 20s.  Harold was in his 50s already, but in good shape.  We called him “Legs” because he still had decent wheels.  He could also cheat on a pitch and hit it right down either line for a sure extra-base hit.  Zobrist looked to “cheat” on his dinger tonight in order to get out in front of it, and it got the Cubs back in this one.  Kyle Schwarber followed up with a solid double to right-center, but the Cubs could not get him home.

Austin Meadows didn’t let the Cubs celebrate for too long, though.  The kid nicely battled back from an 0-2 count before depositing a home run on to the concourse beyond the right center field fence.  The Pirates led 4-2.

Lester got the run back himself.  Jason Heyward smacked a two-out double down the right field line, and scored one batter later when Lester smacked his second hit of the night to right field.  That chased Kingham from the game in favor of Tyler Glasnow.  After a Zobrist walk, Schwarber struck out on a change up low and away to end the inning.

Lester worked around a two-out double in the bottom of the sixth, and the Cubs offense came through for him in the top of the seventh.  Against righty Edgar Santana Anthony Rizzo continued to play the villain with a towering home run directly to a gloved Cubs fan sitting in an unlikely position to catch a ball.  The Pirates asked for a review of the play to make sure that the fan did not reach over the railing to catch the ball – the 21-foot tall mark, as mentioned above – but the home run call stood.  The Cubs kept it going, as Willson Contreras smacked a line drive single to right-center.  Ian Happ then drove ball to deep left-center for a double, scoring Contreras to give the Cubs a 5-4 lead.   After an Addison Russell fly-out, Jason Heyward struck his THIRD hit of the night to right to score Happ.  Just like that, the Cubs led by two runs, 6-4.

By the way, that quick pace just ground to a halt.  It got worse in the top of the eighth inning when Michael Feliz came in to pitch for Pittsburgh.  He was greeted by Zobrist with a double down the right field line.  Schwarber followed with his rendition of the Gong Show, smoking a ball off the right field fair pole that made for a reverberating noise – a real life “Ding Dong Johnson,” to borrow a description from Pedro Martinez.  8-4 Cubs.  After Bryant lined out to deep center field, Feliz lost complete control of his pitches.  He walked Anthony Rizzo on four pitches, with the fourth nearly hitting the Cubs first baseman.  Feliz then hit Willson Contreras in the upper arm – the second time on the night.  Feliz’s wildness not only slowed down the game, but there were two mound visits in the inning.  The second featured a trip by the team trainer to check him out, though I guess he was alright.  Javier Baez struck out attempting to hit the ball out of the state of Pennsylvania, and Russell was unlucky, as his line drive was hit directly at first baseman Josh Bell.

That was more than enough for the Cubs bullpen, though it did get dicey late.   Carl Edwards Jr. pitched a scoreless seventh inning, and likewise Steve Cishek in the eighth.  For about the first time this season we saw a chink in the armor of Brian Duensing, as he gave up two base runners with one out in the bottom of the ninth.  Brandon Morrow was summoned to close out the game, and he was far from perfect, as well.  He allowed an infield single to load the bases, and then Starling Marte singled to center to drive in two runs, making it just a two-run lead.  Morrow settled down, however, and ended the game on a strike out and infield popup.  Dozens of Pirates fans went home disappointed.

Source: FanGraphs
Moving Forward

So the Cubs won three straight games, and look to pick up a full game on Milwaukee (as of this writing, they trail 6-1 in the 9th).  Let’s see if Kyle Hendricks can keep the streak going against Joe Musgrove.  First pitch tomorrow night is at 6:05.

 

 

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  • Schwarbers HR was a laser shot, ricocheting off the fair pole. He hit it so hard it didn’t have time to hook.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Ricochet off umpires; ricochet off fair poles. A lot of good swings and line drives.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Sounded like a gong when the ball hit. He's hit them farther, but that one was entertaining.

  • The Cubs’ offense is cooking with gas. They're first in the NL in OBP, slugging, and runs per game. #FlytheW

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I did a rough game results distribution analysis regarding RS/RA in two categories, Cubs wins vs Cubs losses. Bottom line Cubs score more than 6 or more runs they are 20-1, score less than 3 or less 7-16. So their pitching/defense has a very defined line, score more than 4 and keep teams less than 4.

    It goes to the whole game management. This club has three players who are slugging more than .500, but one is a platoon player. One who should is beginning to come out of a early season slump. The real question is working the starting pitching to put in quality starts and this team could start playing .650 to .700 ball for a month.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    The offense looks better and the numbers back it up. They have 7 regulars or semi-regulars above 120 wRC+ and don't look now but Rizzo has raised his to 109. You'd like to see one more hitter with an OBP over .380 but that could easily happen. I do have a slight concern with the drop in HR, after all that lack of HR power is what cost Chili Davis his job in Boston, but that should pick up in the summer months. My one only key concern right now is starting pitching and Darvish's health.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Cubs hit 66 HR's in April-May last year, (65 to this date) and have 60 HR's to date this year. Last year at this time they were 25-25, (and they fell to 25-27 by May 31, and if you recall, 43-45 at the ASB).. So depending on what they do over the next 18 or so innings they could reach last year's threshold.

    I have noticed a few adjustments from the Chili Davis hitting regime. Last night Heyward seems to have relaxed his hands in preparing to swing. Cubs are taking balls deep and on a line to the oppo field with much more frequency. I think we should bed down the Chili fear.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    Oh, I'm not worried I think Davis has already paid dividends with some of the guys particularly Schwarber who he apparently told to forget about launch angle and hit like he can which I think was sage advice. I don't think the "launch angle revolution" is for every hitter and Kyle is so strong he doesn't need any help. I credit that and his vast improvement in OBP to Davis. When a team is built to win by the HR though you have to pay attention to it.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    Excellent info sir especially with the before and after comparisons. I had forgotten the 25-25 they were at last year at this time so being 7 over .500 now feels ALOT better. The hitting is better, the bullpen has been real good but only 2 of the 5 starters have produced while the defense still needs improvement. Happ now, is not a good outfielder, he very well may become one but isn’t now, Contreras and Baez both have been sloppy. AA is playing GG tho!

  • I didn't watch the game, but read that Happ made an excellent running catch later in the game to rob someone of an extra base hit, so let's give Happy some credit for the good D he does play.

    I love how Almora has been playing this year. He must at least be in the conversation when discussing gold glove CFs this year, and he will some day be the NL batting champ (maybe multiple times), however, both Happ and Almora are having stellar years. We'll be seeing a lot of them in the future, let's enjoy both of them.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    Yeah, fans can freak out when we're losing and every weakness is magnified. But winning smooths the edges, mainly because players are producing. We are a good team who has been underperforming. We are about to go on a run, and we should all enjoy it.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    I like Almora’s play. I’d like to see him play most every game. At some point he will. Until then there are going to be pitching matchups that favor using Happ. Happ won’t make all the plays Almora can in the field. He will hit for a lower average but with substantially more power. As a long time Cubs fan, I cannot believe how fortunate I am to watch such talented players. As many can state, we have seen a lot of ‘not good’ over the years.

  • I'm ready for the Almora / Happ experiment to end.

    Let Almora play every day and have Happ fill in in LF, RF, 2B and very occasionally 3B and CF.He can play LF when Schwarbs DHs.

    If the Cubs are seriously considering a deadline deal, he's gotta be,bait, as is Russell. I wonder out loud it he's not being showcased for that purpose.

    I also think TLS is worthy of more time
    He has performed very well when given the chance.

  • In reply to hoffpauir6:

    Who is trade bait? Almora or Happ? Part of me understands what you are saying about giving some guys more playing time but part of me thinks it’s awesome how deep this team really is. I think it’s a huge advantage over other teams frankly. Joes genius in mixing up the lineups so much is probably a major reason why the Cubs are always so strong after the all star break. Why mess with one of their biggest advantages by trading a key player?

  • In reply to HefCA:

    Because . . . Chatwood. Actually, I agree that the ability to mix up the lineup without losing talent is a huge advantage. If Darvish and Chatwood don't get it together, (or at least one of them), I could see a deadline deal.

  • In reply to hoffpauir6:

    I am one that thinks that Almora's average is 25 points higher because Joe does sit him against the tough slider right handers. I think the combination of Happy Almora is a good thing, not a bad thing. This is a long haul, not a sprint.

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    Not sure I can quantify the batting average improvement due to less at bats vs certain right handed pitchers, but your point is well taken. Almora’s approach has improved drastically over the past 20 months. More walks would be nice. His approach to all fields is solid.

  • In reply to hoffpauir6:

    If you're going to sacrifice defense in center with Almora/Happ, why does the same not hold at 2B with Baez/LaStella?

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    In reply to wastrel:

    I think that Happ is a better CF defender than TLS at 2B. That would be my reason. I am fine with TLS getting 15-25 starts per year in specific situations that favor him and then be a guy who can put together a tough PA against a top flight bullpen arm late in the game when we need contact and or baserunner.

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    I was a bit worried in the 9th, but we see what Morrow brings to the game and why he was signed. We have a great bullpen, our offense is getting better, and at times our defense shines.
    As long as he's healthy and rested, Zo is the best lead off man we have and he has to play. He can play 2nd, RF and maybe LF to give others rest. His last 30 games his OBP is .356. Last 15 games .381 and his last 7 games .400. He's a professional and we need him. I don't know his personality, but maybe he is the leader that Rossy was and we just don't know it.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    What is wrong with Almora's 374 OBP? Almora is doing a good job batting lead off.

  • That Cubs fan with the glove had incredible framing skills on that home run, by the way.

    And I think Javier Baez set a new world record for amount of torque on a strikeout.

  • In reply to discubobulated:

    Sloppy glove work could have lost Rizzo a legitimate homer. The fan made a strong catch. His celebration dance would not fly in the bullpen.

  • Was surprised at the attendance.....place looked less than half full

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    It's a shame, really. The Pirates fan base was pretty upset with losing McCutchen and Cole, and the Pirates aren't really contenders this year. Still, it seems to be a great ballpark and they are a team that can play some good baseball.

  • Good write up. Early everything was coming up Bucs and it looked to e one of those frustrating games, but ended up as a Pirates beat down. The homer by schwarbs was a kick. No doubt about whether it was a fair. Kyle rung the bell and the teddy bear for his girl.

  • Joe Block, Pirates radio, needs to chill out. The guy was insinuating the Rizzo is a dirty player by virtue of not only his slide Monday by his slide last year into a catcher (don't remember which team). Then when Rizzo hit his homer, Block immediately determined that it would be reversed because of a (Cubs) fan interference. When the call was upheld, Block went into a rant of how Rizzo was "yucking" it up in the dugout.

    How ironic that Rizzo was a winner of the Roberto Clemente award for "best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team", as voted on by baseball fans and members of the media.

  • In reply to MilwaukeeRoad:

    Rizzo busts and plays hard mostly. His feet first slides can be hard on the the opposition. It does not mean that he is trying to hurt a player. He is a big strong guy, who plays the game the way it is meant to be played. Didn't Anthony mess up Molina' s thumb on a regular feet first slide?

  • In reply to MilwaukeeRoad:

    Block-head.

    How about the picture above with Bell sliding to take out Russell. He is 6 feet off the base path and cannot even reach the bag. Rizzo’s torso crossed the plate. This is such a bad take it’s not even funny. Clint Hurdle would have been kicked out for arguing when he played if he slid like Rizzo and got called for interference. This play got attention only because of how poorly Diaz executed it.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    MLB rule 6.01(i) says the "runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate), or otherwise initiate an avoidable collision." Rizzo, clearly, deviated from his path to initiate an avoidable collision.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    No he did not. Got watch the play. If he had deviated, the umps and replay would have called him out for interference IN the game. Rizzo ran a straight line from Foul territory when the ball was hit to the inside part of the plate. There was no deviation.

    Sorry. Not buying it.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    MLB ruled it was interference. There was clearly deviation and Rizzo admitted he went out of his way to create contact.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    When leading off of third base, runners typically are 6-8 to 10 feet foul. Take out a piece of scratch paper and draw third base line. Then put a spot about 8 foot ouside of it. Use a ruler and and draw a straight line to the inside of home plate and look at your line. I don't think he deviated. He knew he had to break up two when the ball was hit. Took a straight line to the inside of the plate to slide, making sure he was definitely within reach of home. It was a good low slide. I side with the initial crew and the review booth. He did exactly what you are taught to do on that exact play. Joe Torre was a catcher too, perhaps he had too many concussions.

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    He did what you used to be taught. Rules have changed. He clearly deviated and has admitted he deviated to initiate contact. It is no longer a good play.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    For someone who claims to have watched a lot of baseball, it’s silly for you to put up this argument. That slide Rizzo performed has been around for 120 years and has NEVER once been called interference. 4 Umps, the Control Booth in NYC, Joe Maddon, and others said it was legal and clean in the immediate moments it took place.

    He did not deviate. Watch the down the line view. He went in a straight line almost directly on top of the foul line. When he slid, his legs went out to the left and his torso remained directly over home plate. That is not deviation.

    This rule was put in place for the running over of a catcher on a TAG PLAY. Not a forceout at home. Context in the key component. It was brought in as the “Buster Posey” rule, if you care to know. As Joe clearly stated—the interpretation is WRONG in this instance. I agree without Joe 100%.

    Was Bell called out last night when he went to break up Russell’s double play attempt? Didn’t think so. Dude was 5-7 feet wide of the bag.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    You are out of touch with the times. The rules have changed for player safety. Rizzo did change his path which he has admitted to initiate contact. Joe Torre has said this is interference. He could have avoided contact if he had slid straight at home plate and not at the catcher. It is now a bad play and not how it was years ago.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    You are the one not in touch. The rule was implemented for tag plays. Not force plays. This rule changed for Buster Posey getting run over when the player did not slide to the outside and veered to the inside crushing Posey and breaking his leg. Quit reading black and white. There is a Grey Area here and Rizzo’s play is not the same thing.

    And go look up deviate. Rizzo did not deviate from his path. He ran a straighter line than the guys running the 100M in the Olympics. Jeez.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    The rule needs to better defined. I like Rizzo. From a extremely reliable character reference, he is a high character guy beyond what you see and read. I like his enthusiasm and talent. That said, while the catcher overacted, the leg whip could have caused a preventable injury. Judging by the MLB statement yesterday, it will be defined better.

    As a kid I remember Ray Fosse’s career changing after a senseless play at the plate during an All-Star Game. I liked Pete Rose’s game. But, he was wrong.

    I’m sure some will think I’m wanting to change the current uniform pants to other leg wear. That’s okay.

  • You wanting the shorts the Pale Hose wore back in the 80's?

  • FWIW, I had a long baseball discussion with an older gentleman on Memorial Day who is friends with Fosse. They played together in the A's (?) farm system. He said Fosse holds no ill will towards Rose for the play, and never has. Fosse says Rose was trying to win the game.

  • Fosse and Buter Posey collisions were WRONG. Those were TAG plays which is far different than a forceout.

    This slide is not even in the same league. There was no threat on injury. That is a bad myth being thrown out there. The ankle and knee were swept in the direction they naturally bend. If his foot was planted facing Rizzo the the knee and ankle would have been susceptible to hyperextension. This was nothing more than sweeping the legs.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    The catcher is in a vulnerable position and contact could have been avoided. Since Rizzo went out of his way to make contact it is interference. Baseball has changed rules which Maddon and others need to acknowledge.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    The rules are not to prevent guys from sliding hard and breaking up double plays. The rule is to prevent a defenseless Catcher from getting rolled waiting for a throw.

    Rizzo did not go out of his way. If the catcher drops the ball he is SAFE because he was on the plate. If Rizzo were unable to be safe if Diaz dropped the throw and he 100% went after the catcher without nearing the plate, then that is the definition of interference.

    You fail to acknowledge the difference between a tag and force play. The umps and NY got the call right. The armchair QB is wrong lacking interpretation.

    We agree to disagree on this.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    And you need to acknowledge there are two plays.

    1. a play at the plate
    2. a force out and attempt to break up a double play.

    Baseball doesn't have any rule that says you can't break up a double play at home. Maybe that is exactly what they need to do then runners would not feel obligated to do just that. If you are concerned about catchers, more than second basemen, then make it a rule. As a father of a former collegiate catcher, I can't believe we give the guy with equipment more of a break that the guys out at second base on a double play. Crazy. Over the course of baseball, there is no doubt in my mind that more middle infielders have blown out knees because of slides than catchers getting hurt.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    I personally think that even after reading the rule word for word I still don't know which of you is correct as how do you define whether he deviated from the bag seems completely subjective to the person evaluating the play and I think MLB just wanted to start a precedent to disallow this type of play moving forward as it's a pretty unique play. In any event I think this play wasn't even close to the typical dirty play you see occasionally on sports center and whether the play was clean or not I think that clint hurdle has managed to blow this situation completely out of proportion as he's always done. We have to remember the source of where this discussion is stemming from guys I respect Hurdle as a manager but he makes a big deal out of something EVERY single time that we play these guys he's a borderline psycho among ML managers and I personally think MLB should talk to him about his practice of intentionally throwing at our guys every single time. Last series it was Javy needs to have respect for the game and last year I remember he retaliated every single time his guys got hit whether they were accidental breaking balls or not. One game in particular he threw at 4-5 guys including rizzo and bryant because one of his guys got hit by a 75 mph breaking ball and then there was arrieta in the playoffs in addition to many other times where they've intentionally thrown at our hitters for little to no reason.

    Personally I'm disappointed that the media isn't pointing out that the throwing at our players by pirates pitchers has become a recurring issue going back to 2015. There's no way to sugar coat it they're the dirtiest baseball team in the league and it starts with their manager. Have we all forgotten that they've intentionally thrown at our hitters the majority of times that we play them and the funny thing is many times there was little to no instigation compared to this series this one is kinda the 1st time where I can somewhat see their perspective if there ever was one. One of these days one of our guys are going to get hurt and I'd personally like to see Joe throw at some of their guys because this has become an issue almost every series that we've played them and I think part of the reason that they feel like it's alright is because they no we're not going to retaliate. I'm generally fine with turning the other cheek but enough is enough. I think this is one of the most baffling storylines that I've ever seen in baseball because I just don't understand how the pirates of all teams can ever accuse anyone of playing the game dirty. I think part of the reason why our guys seem to play the game more aggresively against them is because of the dirty manner in which they play the game and I'm disappointed again that the media hasn't done more to highlight the cubs perspective of some of the issues we've had with the pirates throwing at our hitter intentionally over the past 3-4 years.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Watch again. Rizzo is running down the line with a clear path to home plate. He then runs onto the infield and directly at the catch which is clearly deviating from his path. Rizzo has stated he deviated from his path to make contact. Joe Torre has said he deviated from his path making the slide illegal and is interference.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    nope, he was in foul territory and ran straight to the inside of home to break up the double play because he saw the ground ball, saw the force out already made and then his job was to break up the double play.

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    By not going straight to home plate he changed course to make contact with the catcher which is interference. This is an illegal slide.
    MLB believes Rizzo violated Rule 6.01 (i), which states "if a runner does not engage in a bona fide slide, and initiates (or attempts to make) contact with the fielder for the purpose of breaking up a double play, he should be called for interference."

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Respectfully Wait until next year unlike many who have replied I see what you're saying and respect how you take the contrarian side to the cubs fan perspective but I think the reason you and everyone else can't find common ground is that we haven't seen this slide rule enforced in this manner previously because it's very subjective what's considered deviating from the base path in today's rules. Even in today's game I constantly see guys intentionally slide into the 2B to break up double plays yet they typically aren't called out for interference if for example they slide outside the base path but are close enough to the base to reach out with their hands to the left or right to touch the bag. It's just not very defines what's deviating from the basepath and what isn't with the umpires. Overall, I've personally seen players slide similarly to Rizzo especially regarding plays at 2B and they generally weren't called for interference. I think there's clearly an interpretation issue by umpires of this rule and that's why you're seeing such a difference in opinion. I don't believe Maddon is just defending his player I think he vehemently believes that his perspective is correct and pirates fans vehemently think that they're perspective is correct. I get this is a cubs site but whether you agree with most of the posters here or not I don't know how you can deny that there's an interpretation issue at hand here with this particular rule in general. I personally agree with you that the play should be illegal but I know for a fact that I've seen players that were on the borderline of deviating from basepaths that weren't called out and Rizzo's slide to me was a lot more in line with the base path as opposed to other plays that I see at 2B where players also weren't called for interference. I think a lot of the reason this is a story is because the pirates insistence on blowing it out of proportion plus the catcher got banged up on the play not because it was a malicious play like with Buster Posey years ago. I think common fans in general are going to believe what they hear from the media and unfortunately clint hurdle was successful in blowing a pretty innocent play out of proportion as he tends to do when his guys play the cubs.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    You do realize that the foul line is at the back edge home plate? Home plate sits about 18 inches inside the foul line. From Rizzo’s starting point in foul territory he went straight for home plate and succeeeded in sliding with his torso over home plate. You keep saying Rizzo “deviated” or made a move at the Catcher. His butt cheek nearly landed on the plate. The move you claim Rizzo made is false and didn’t happen.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    If Rizzo continues running on the foul side of the baseline he will never touch homeplate because the entire plate is in fair territory. At sometime he has to cross the foul line to get to the plate. So he has to “deviate” his path at some time to get into fair territory. Where does the rule as written allow him to deviate into fair territory to touch the plate? Seems as the rule being interpreted was for second base plays not those at home plate.

  • In reply to MilwaukeeRoad:

    That's why I paid a little extra so I can choose the feed on MLB-TV. Maybe I'm a homer, but I just can't stand some of the announcers from the other teams. Hawk Harrelson and those two TV guys in Milwaukee come to mind. My favorite was a couple of years back when the MKE guys were explaining that the pitcher should pitch Baez low and outside because he can't hit it and he can't lay off. "There it goes...." Priceless!

  • As much as many of us including myself have criticized maddon for some of his mistakes with the lineup and especially his in game decisions I think we have to commend him tonight for a number of moves. For one I know we all think almora deserves to play most games and really he has been playing a ton recently I think Maddon knows he's playing well but we have to give him days off sometimes the guys a bit accident/injury prone based on his history and I for one support starting him in 75-80% of games as we've been doing because the reality is he's playing like the best option but we still need to find AB's for our other 4 OF's and I think this was a good matchup for our lefties. I've been vocal about my thoughts on making heyward more of a super sub and generally benching him but we have to find him AB's where we can and I think last nights SP matchup vs a decent not great young rookie Right handed starter was a good matchup for heywards skillset and I commend Joe for finding him AB's and hopefully that good game can get him going. In addition, I get Almora likely makes that 1st play that Happ misplayed but Happ made a sensational play later in that game that I don't know that Almora even makes given Happ got a great jump and has greater straight line speed and even after an 0-3 start Happ showed how he can change any game with one swing of the bat with that deep opposite field double that gave us our 1st lead of the game. That's one thing that we have to remember about Happ he brings a power element to our OF that's in short supply besides Schwarber that can change a game and I for one think Happ and Almora complement each others skillsets well. I can't tell you how many fans were outraged on twitter that those 2 were in the lineup but I'm glad they rewarded Maddon's faith and give him credit for finding a good spot to sit Almora which I'm fine with especially for certain matchups that favor Jason heyward we need to find him AB's sometimes I doubt he's going to play many games in this weekends series against the mets with us facing Degrom and 2 lefties in jason vargas and Matz.

  • Darvish mri results no structural damage. right triceps inflammation, will resume throwing this weekend or early next week.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Outstanding news bolla for me the media can overblow this situation if they want but as long as he misses a start or 2 then I really don't care I just want to see him healthy and feeling good it's a very long season. He was looking better in the starts leading up to the injury now hopefully he can build on that. I still think he has by far the best stuff in the rotation and his performances moving forward are going to factor in largely on how the rest of this season goes.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Yea he easily has the best stuff I'm pulling for darvish. I hope he can finish this year strong he's the key to the rotation imo

  • MRI results on Darvish are (finally) in, and it's great news. No structural damage, just minor triceps inflammation. Hickey was on 670 The Score this morning, prior to the announcement, and sounded optimistic. Darvish will begin throwing again in 4-5 days and will certainly miss another start or two, but signs were pointing to much worse news. I can breathe again, which is good, because I've been holding my breath since Sunday.

  • The slide rule could be clarified, though its letter and intent are already obvious; don't interfere with a fielder who is making a throw. It's as much interference as it would be if Diaz reached around and buckled Rizzo's knee while he was trying to hit a baseball. Rizzo wasn't sliding to score, he was already out. He was sliding to "break up a double play" - to interfere with the defender. This is how the rules were. It's not where the rules are going. Though I'm more old school than not, I'm not a fan of avoidable injuries. The lack of clarity and communication from the league office is mind-boggling. Nobody knows what the hell is going on.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    Joe Torre and MLB have made it clear not to change your path to initiate contact.It is in the rules which needs to be enforced to protect the players.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Then why are they disagreeing with their umpiring crews? Something needs clarification, and yesterday.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    Joe Torre did clarify

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Why haven't the umpire crews been properly trained before now? There's a management/communications breakdown. Almora was on the score and he said he didn't understand the rule. Apparently the umpires and players haven't been given a clear message on what the rules mean.

  • Cubs offense that leads the National League in on-base percentage, slugging and ISO. The Cubs are second in batting average, third in walk rate (this after they were sitting dead last in the NL on May 6), 13th in strikeout rate and according to FanGraphs’ advanced base-running statistic (BsR), far and away the best base-running team in baseball.

    I said this the other day but if the starting pitching can ever get consistent(string together more quality starts,go at least 6-7 innings,cut down the walks). The cubs will go on a run

  • In reply to bolla:

    With 3 starters under performing it is going to be difficult to go on a long run.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Not really, especially if the offense that simply hasn’t really clicked as a whole this season, starts to Finally get into a nice groove. I do think that Maddon should start demanding more innings from his starters though. Make them fight/battle to get through at least 5 full innings as long as it’s a close game (and maxing pitch counts at about 105). Our offense is built to provide a lot of run suppport. They can help negate some of the poor pitching. That model can work for the regular season, but I wouldn’t want to rely on it in the postseason though, so yes, some of the other starters need to step it up. Boy do I miss Jake Arrieta!! I think we’d have about 5 more wins right now if he was still a Cub.

    One positive I see from Darvish’s early DL stints is that when/if he finally gets it all going, he will not be overworked and tired when we’ll need him at his best come pennant race and postseaaon play.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Agreed bolla and I laugh at how many fans still seem to insist that the boom or bust offense is the teams primary issue these kids are mostly playing well and honestly they've already proven to me that they're good enough to take us where we want to go. Where i'm concerned is also the pitching staff as our 3 new starters are all not off to great starts and while I'm optimistic about Q and darvish you still like to see your new guys see success in their new uniform because cubs fans don't really care what you've accomplished in other uniforms. I personally think that Q and Darvish ability to turn things around in the 2nd half is going to be the key to whether or not this team has a chance to go anywhere.

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    Even one of the Pirate broadcasters said he was trying to break up the double play and he was, but at least half his body slid over home plate so it's not like he went out of the base path to slide into the catcher. I love how this topic has divided the Den but everyone has given their opinions in a decent and respectful way. This might be one of the most discussed plays in a long time here.
    As for Jake and Yu. If Jake out pitches Yu this year, and possibly next year but the next 3 Yu does much better was it a bad deal? How do we decide? Yu's last start he was terrible the first inning but then pitched Jake like and pitched well. He needs to do that a few more times and the noise will stop. Most players who sign a large contract have trouble in the beginning, I think because they try to justify their worth. Yu has all the stuff (as did Jake) when he came here and Jake straightened himself out and helped us win the WS. I don't see why Yu can't do the same.

  • "if a runner does not engage in a bona fide slide, and initiates (or attempts to make) contact with the fielder for the purpose of breaking up a double play, he should be called for interference."

    Why is this hard to understand??

    MLB has stated it was an illegal slide. There is no debate.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Ok. Let’s play semantics. We can all play along.

    Rizzo did attempt and engage in a bona fide slide, so the rest of your rule is a moot point.

    Rizzo touched home plate and would have been called safe had he beat the throw OR the catcher dropped the ball thereby making his slide bona fide.

    Why is this so hard to understand?

    MLB offices were wrong and the umps and replay team got it right. There is no debate.

    This is like arguing what is the strike zone. Not everyone is in agreement.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    MLB offices are not wrong and have explained why it is an illegal slide and is interference.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    I actually think that some of your perspective over this play over the past few days carries more weight then some fans here wish to acknowledge but saying it's not debatable is just a flat out false/incorrect statement respectively and that's why this is such a hotly debated play because it's interpretation is so subjective. I can care less what MLB says I'd have said the EXACT same thing in their shoes this is a rare play and they may as well set a precedent protecting the catchers. If you read the letters of the law it's very subjective whether Rizzo was in fact deviating from the baseline. Additionally and this is a fact I don't think your acknowledging is that when you compare this play to many other plays from 2017-18 where players have slided borderline outside the base path yet have been called safe while trying to break up a double play it really isn't any different and in many cases their have been more egregious slides where a player has deviated even further from the base path where that player has been called safe. I respect your viewpoint but I think it's an absolute fact that there is an
    issue of interpretation with this play so it's most definitely at the very least debatable if not legal.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    The rule states if a player initiates (or attempts to make) contact with the fielder for the purpose of breaking up a double play, he should be called for interference."

    What is subjective? He had a clear path to the plate and deviated to make contact with the catcher which is interference.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    You're not placing enough context on how this rule has been enforced even recently over the past 2 years. Do I think he was trying to break up a double play? Yes I do I agree with your point there but how many times do you see a guy slide into the base while at the same time trying to break up the double play at 2B by sliding with his cleets up or sliding a little bit to say the right side of the bag? It happens literally all the time and the only time guys get called out is when they deviate so far from the base where they don't even make contact with the bag so it's very apparent and obvious in those occasions that the player had no intention of sliding into the base. You also conveniently only wrote out a portion of the rule that helps serve your viewpoint. The reality is the part of that rule that empires typically enforce is the part about whether they think the baserunner deviated from the bag or not. In my view and pretty much everyone's view on this website except for you, Rizzo didn't deviate from the base path especially when you really analyze this play compared to many other plays where players try to break up double plays that were deemed legal. Do I think it was a malicous play with ill intent? No I do think it was a dirty play that should be eliminated from the game and that's why I understand MLB setting a precedent of eliminating this type of play. But I think the reason the majority of us think that it was a legal play isn't because we're homers it's because we've seen many similar double plays broken up in a similar fashion especially at 2B that were deemed legal as long as the baserunner slid into the base which Rizzo clearly did.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Rizzo was on one side of the line then deviated to the infield side to make contact with the catcher. It is a clear deviation from his path to home plate which was clear. So now you think MLB & Joe Torre are wrong after they reviewed the play.

    MLB rule 6.01(i) says the "runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate), or otherwise initiate an avoidable collision." Rizzo, clearly, deviated from his path to initiate an avoidable collision.

    Could Rizzo have avoided a collision if he went feet first into home plate and not the catcher?

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    I think the play is up for interpretation and I would've advised Torre to do the exact same thing because I think it's good for player safety to set a precedent to disallow plays such as this. But let me reiterate do I think Rizzo slightly deviated from the baseline? Yes I do and that's why I think analyzing this play is confusing and subjective for many because what I think is that while he deviated he didn't deviate far enough outside the base line to be called for interference as he still slid directly over home plate it's not like you can say he clearly deviated from the base path to run over the catcher. If you watch baseball a lot which you seem too you'd know that players deviate slightly from the baseline all the time to break up double plays but typically aren't called out as long as they slide into the base which Rizzo did. Where guys are called out is when they deviate so far from the baseline where they're clearly not even sliding into the base. In other words umpires only rule that you deviate from the baseline typically if you're far off the baseline to where you don't even slide over the bag. Umpires over the past 1-2 years have been interpreting that rule completely different then you are and that's why maybe MLB should clarify that rule because there seems to be differences in interpretation even the MLB officials in New York deemed it a legal play for example and Len Kasper and Jim D. were certain in the moment it happened that it would be deemed legal. That isn't because they're biased it's because they've seen numerous plays that were deemed legal at 2B that were eerily similar if not worse on many occasions.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I will say again: The rule at the plate is about "collisions" Not interference. Everyone is trying to interepret the rule to include interference. Again, there is NO rule about interference at home plate.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    The rule states if a player initiates (or attempts to make) contact with the fielder for the purpose of breaking up a double play, he should be called for interference."

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Rules are made for everyone to follow and as such should be "cut and dried" and NOT left up for interpretation after the fact.

    In addition, if the rule is what "MLB (Joe Torre)" says it is then why has it NOT been enforced at second base consistently?

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Exactly clark I think most of us are on similar viewpoints. I don't think it's a clean play but I do think it's a legal play based on how this rule has been enforced in general around the league. If the league feels that there needs to be a change then I'd understand and partially agree with that but the rule has been enforced how it's been enforced and guys don't get called out when they slide completely over the plate as Rizzo did there. It's no accident why you saw a difference in opinion from the MLB review team during the game and Joe Torre.

  • Rizzo’s slide was clean. If it happens at second base there is no issue. He slid to the base and not through it to hit a defender which he is allowed to do TO BREAK UP A DOUBLE PLAY. If the defender happens to be on or in front of the base oh well.
    I doubt Rizzo even considers taking out the catcher if it was only a singular forceout. Now the rule says I’m wrong......I don’t care and I also think Diaz did a decent flop impersonation to mask the airmail he sent to right field. Sour grapes from the Pirates....

    Kkhiavi......respectfully disagree on one point.....the Cardinals are the dirtiest team in the NL.....they never pass up the chance to get their pound of flesh.

  • I thought the reason (intent) MLB made the rule at Home Plate was to eliminate the hard collisions at the plate. Interference at home plate is entirely a different situation. Baseball has always allowed the runner to try to break up a double play even by interfering with the fielder. These are 2 different situations. Who made Joe Torre the dictator of the rules when the very people he is in charge of and the enforcers of the rules all agree differently?

  • Will someone tell Joe Torre that "A RULE IS A RULE"! Rules are NOT and should NOT be up to interpretation. The rule everyone is referring to here is about a collision at home plate and NOT about interference.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    This is an old argument. Are rules hard and fast or do they have elasticity that need to be interpreted? Or do you have to interpret literally or is there elasticity. Examples, the strike zone or, until recently, the neighborhood play at second base or being out if the ball beats you on a steal. We won’t solve the debate here. But we have seen a trend to a more literal interpretation because of instant replay.

    As I stated before, the MLB statement, sounds to me, that they are signaling the intent to rewriting or change the language of the rule after the season. But then again, I could be misinterpreting the statement.

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