The Cubs go for the sweep today over the Cardinals, which would also give them five wins in their last six over the best team in baseball.
- … are the Cardinals the best team in baseball? Their record says they are, but boy are they slumping at the worst possible time. It’ll be interesting to see if this lasts long enough for the Cubs and Pirates to pull even closer, and/or if this lasts long enough for the Cardinals to limp into the playoffs.
- The Cubs hit three Cardinals batters yesterday – Kolten Wong twice, and Greg Garcia – which is undoubtedly going to raise some eyebrows given the previous day’s hostilities. Here’s what Joe Maddon said about it after the game:
Maddon when asked if three Cardinals batters getting hit today was just a coincidence after yesterday's shenanigans: pic.twitter.com/rLgR3eT7wm
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) September 19, 2015
- I believe you, Joe. And I believe him because the Cubs would have had to be absolutely crazy to hit the Cardinals batters in the game situations they did. The first came in the 6th inning when the score was 4-1 – and, although there were two outs and the bases empty, there were also two strikes. The next was the closest call, at 5-1 in the 8th with two outs, but again there were two strikes. If you want to argue that Fernando Rodney did that one on purpose, I don’t think I can disprove you (though, again, two strikes, and it’s not like Rodney always has pinpoint control). But then the final one, in the 9th inning, after warnings had been issued and the Cubs had brought in their closer, and leading off the inning? No freaking chance that was anything but completely accidental.
- Maddon added, correctly, that the umpires did not have to ejected Rondon and Maddon after the warnings had been issued (CSN). Technically, they do still have discretion to let a pitcher stay in the game if it was clearly unintentional, as it was with Rondon. The thing on that, though … given the previous day, and given that it was the third hit batter of the day, I just don’t think the umps really had a choice. Ejecting Rondon probably does more to keep things under control today, too, when you don’t want to see the Cardinals retaliating further.
- After yet another great outing, Trevor Cahill’s numbers with the Cubs through 11.2 innings: 1.54 ERA, 2.89 FIP, 2.41 xFIP, 65.2% groundball rate, 33.3%(!) K rate, 7.1% BB rate. Yes, the .130 BABIP and 90.9% LOB% would regress dramatically if given enough time, and that’s why the ERA is so low, but look at those other peripherals, man. The sample is tiny, but Cahill has been an almost otherworldly long reliever so far.
- Ell Oh Ell:
Cubs clubhouse has lounge chair and sand box with a foo foo drink set for Pedro Strop at his locker .
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) September 20, 2015
As Maddon promised, it's a beach day for Strop: pic.twitter.com/7JDIeejGqh
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) September 20, 2015
- (Maddon had previously told Strop, who’s been a busy boy, that he could go to the beach for a day rather than have to worry about pitching again.)
- Addison Russell’s amazing game-ender, if you missed it.