joe maddon speaksLate night (I didn’t get to bed until 1am ET), early morning turnaround (hybrid parenting and writing at 6:30am ET), and I am chugging caffeinated beverages.

I’m also thinking about how the best ring tone I ever had was a stripped down, old school version of A-Ha’s ‘Take on Me’ on a Motorola Razr almost 10 years ago. It cost me a buck, and it was totally worth it.

So, that’s where my head is at after that crazy long, crazy night

  • You may have seen or thought of this already, but it’s still fun: the last time a Cubs pitcher played in the field, it was Sean Marshall in left field back in 2009 under Lou Piniella. Marshall, of course, was later traded by the new Theo Epstein-led front office to the Reds for, among other players, Travis Wood … who played left field last night.
  • Maddon complimented Wood’s athleticism and praised him for pitching in a game in which he was not supposed to pitch (Tribune). It was Pedro Strop, though, that Maddon was hoping would get the final out in left field, and Strop was ready:



  • Maddon described the bench situation in the final innings that led to him using his pitchers so creatively as the team being “so naked.” That will soon be literally true.
  • From reliever shenanigans to relievers being relievers, how good did Justin Grimm and Carl Edwards Jr. look last night? I’ve been saying for a while on Grimm that, although he’s legitimately been having issues lately, we’ve seen him struggle and then come out of it before for a nice long dominant stretch. Hopefully that’s what’s going to happen for him in the second half. Reds batters were completely baffled by his curveball last night, as they just watched it fall in for strike after strike, and flailed helplessly at the fastball because of it.
  • And if Edwards can just keep his fastball in the zone? The velocity and movement on it will do the rest, especially when paired with his fantastic curveball. In some ways, he and Grimm are a lot alike. (And, hey, the Cubs got them both in the same deal with the Rangers.) According to Brooks, by the way, Edwards hit 97.9mph with his fastball last night. It’s a pitch that naturally has cutting action, and if he can keep it in the zone – I’m not even saying locate it perfectly, I’m just saying throw strikes with it consistently – hitters will have a heckuva time putting good wood on it.
  • Jon Lester obviously deserves lots of love for his great performance, giving up only the one run on a home run by Billy Hamilton, which shouldn’t even count against Lester, because Hamilton is possessed by the spirit of Babe Ruth whenever he plays the Cubs. Lester’s ERA on the year stands at 2.03, third in baseball, and just a nose ahead of teammate Jake Arrieta (2.10).


  • It’s not embeddable, so you’ll have to watch here if you missed it: Ben Zobrist needs some love for saving the game in the 13th inning. Before most of the fun had even happened, the Reds had runners on first and second with just one out when Zobrist leaped to snag a liner that easily would have brought home the winning run. Instead, it was a fantastic catch and an easy double play. Sure, if the liner was an inch higher or a foot to the left or right, Zobrist can’t get it, so you can also give the BABIP gods some love. But a lot of players don’t even make the catch that Zobrist made.
  • The Cincinnati Reds bullpen has been, by a number of measures, one of the worst in baseball in several decades. Yet they completely shut down the Cubs for eight innings last night after starter John Lamb exited (no runs, no hits, four walks, six strikeouts over those eight innings). Then, in just one inning from JJ Hoover, the “bullpen” effort suddenly featured five earned runs over nine innings of work.
  • Strictly speaking, the Cubs have now won three of their last five games, which is a .600 winning percentage, which is a 97-win pace over a full season. So … they’re hot again? (I kid, of course, and am only pointing out that it’s a little silly to seize upon a bad five-day stretch of results if you’re not also going to seize upon a good five-day stretch. Which is to say that both things are silly in a 162-game season. But I understand why we do it.)


  • I see what you did there (and there and there and there and there):




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