Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

wrigley marquee featureWith last night’s win, the Cubs went eight games over .500 for the first time since September 26, 2009. Moreover, the Cubs moved past the Dodgers for the third best record in the Nationals League (fifth best in baseball). Alas, both of the teams ahead of the Cubs in the NL also play in the NL Central, and the top dog – the Cardinals – are still 6.5 games better than the Cubs.

The good news there is that the Cubs will get a chance to move that needle this weekend when they head to St. Louis. Three more against the Dodgers first, of course, but the Cubs picked up the toughest win on paper in the series last night.

  • Although the storms in the area last night may not have produced a rain delay in the game, there was a moderate delay when a lighting issue popped up (presumably due to power issues caused elsewhere by the storms), which made for some confusion:

  • The gist of the dispute, which led to the Cubs playing the rest of the game under protest, was the umpires’ belief that there was enough light to keep playing, and Joe Maddon’s belief that any reduction in light was going to give the Cubs’ batters a disadvantage against Clayton Kershaw (for more, see It’s all a matter of degree, and there could have been some stalling/gamesmanship going on, but Maddon had a point: even a slight drop in brightness is going to make spin all the more difficult to pick up. With the lights likely fixed soon, the Cubs might have to face Kershaw for a half inning with diminished light, and then the Dodgers would get the full lights back up in time for their own next at bat (which is exactly what happened).
  • As for the storms, they did present the opportunity for crazy pictures, and then humor:

  • And, speaking of the weather, it’s no surprise that every run in last night’s game was scored on a home run. Both teams did a good job limiting baserunners so that the homers were all solo shots with the exception of one of Kris Bryant’s two blasts. The Cubs’ non-Bryant-produced run came on a long Matt Szczur homer off of Kershaw, which was exactly what you want to see when the wind is howling out: get the bat head down and get the ball into the air with solid contact. I wonder how far that would have gone with no wind at all – basket, maybe?
  • If you were hoping to see cricket this Fall at Wrigley Field, it’s not happening. You didn’t even know you wanted it until now, did you?

  • Rian Watt looks at how rare the Cubs’ one-run and extra-inning performances this year have been.
  • It may shock you, but Cubs fans’ grammar, punctuation and spelling online are among the best in baseball, behind only that of White Sox fans (must be a Chicago thing), Padres fans, and Indians fans. (H/t to Grammarly on the study.)
  • Sahadev Sharma looks at Jason Motte’s evolving approach as a pitcher. He’s become extremely fastball-heavy in the last month as his velocity has increased to something close to where it was a few years ago, and it’s worked (insofar as he’s gotten a lot of weak contact). The strikeout rate, however, is still way, way down from his peak years. Last night’s save was pretty much recent Motte in a nutshell: he threw 14 pitches, 12 of which were four-seam fastballs (averaging about 97mph). He didn’t get a single whiff, gave up a homer and a single, and got three outs on contact (two of which were soft contact). In that game situation – three-run lead – that’s how you’d like a guy to pitch, especially with the wind howling out. But is that a guy in whom you’re going to have a ton of confidence with a one-run lead? It remains to be seen.

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