Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

wrigley night moonI’m on the road this morning, heading back to Columbus as the Cubs head out West to Los Angeles. Like I said last night in the EBS, the loss in Game Two does not concern me terribly, as it’s very hard to argue that the Cubs absolutely had to go up 2-0 in the series or else. Instead, it’s much easier to argue that Game One, with Jon Lester facing Kenta Maeda, and Clayton Kershaw looming in Game Two, was a near must-win for the Cubs. And, by that same logic, Game Two was a near must-win for the Dodgers.

That’s what happened, and the series now shrinks to a best of five, with the first trio of games in L.A. That might sound worse than you’d want to hear, except you have to remember: Kershaw will be able to start only one of those five games. Most likely, we’re going to see Kershaw taking the ball in Game Five in L.A., and then available to pitch in relief as necessary in Game Six or Game Seven.

The match-ups in this series, and the weight of the rosters, still favors the Cubs. Nothing is guaranteed, of course, but the smart money is still on the Cubs. Don’t drive yourself crazy today.

We’ll have much more on the games ahead, and perhaps will even try to put some hard analysis into the “eh, I feel fine” gut stuff driving this intro.

  • The Cubs, for their part, remain confident they can beat the Dodgers, and burgeoning star Javy Baez summed it up (CSN): “We can win all of them [in Los Angeles]. We know we’re the best. We got the best team out there. [But] you got to play the game.” That’s not even arrogance or undeserved pomposity – the Cubs really are the best team, not just in this series, but in baseball. It’s just that the results of a given night’s game won’t always bear that out.
  • Adrian Gonzalez’s bat flick homer against Kyle Hendricks – the only run in the game – was a 390 foot, 99.2mph homer, which would not have left any other ballparks in baseball, according to The Home Run Tracker. Oh, Wrigley.
  • Conversely, that 7th inning, would-be two-run shot by Javy Baez with Anthony Rizzo on first? It was 102.5mph off the bat, but 387 feet. Even if it wasn’t going to leave the park, when you wreck a ball that hard at that angle, they usually fall for hits:

  • Hendricks deserves credit (together with the Cubs’ defense) for limiting the Dodgers to just one run, despite many opportunities for more. He knows he wasn’t at his sharpest (, but you’ll take results like that any day.

  • I saw folks griping about the strike zone last night, which was not something I could really tell at the game (though when Kris Bryant turns around to mention something to the umpire – a true rarity – the odds are good it was not a great strike zone). Sure enough, that was a really bad zone. Check out the chart at Brooks, where I count as many as 12 typically-called strikes that Cubs pitchers did not get (Dodgers lost just six). Dodgers pitchers got three “strikes” called on balls outside the zone, and Cubs pitchers got just one. I’m not sure it turned the tide of the game, but you do hate to see such a discrepancy (and overall weak zone) in a one-run game.

  • Arizona Phil, over at TCR, has catalogued the Cubs’ IFA signings so far in the current period (during which, you’ll recall, the Cubs are restricted from signing anyone to a bonus greater than $300,000).
  • Red Sox Senior VP of Baseball Operations is reportedly the leading candidate to take over as the team’s new GM in the wake of Mike Hazen’s departure for the Diamondbacks.
  • Various outdoor and camping gear to check out over at Amazon, much of which is on sale.

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