After a week in Chicago, it’s time for me to head on back home to Columbus. I have little doubt that I’ve gained five pounds from eating out, extra cinnamon rolls, and the irregular schedule, so it will be nice to get back to a little more routine (and to see the family!).
- The Cubs hammered the Diamondbacks last night, and Anthony Rizzo’s comments after the game will have you feeling good (ESPN): “It’s back. The feeling is back. All those good vibes, all those good juices that we’ve had for the last couple years is back. Just a different look in guys’ eyes. It’s a different feeling.” The feeling is back.
- With his nine strikeouts last night, Jon Lester reached 2,000 for his career, making him just the 25th left in baseball history to achieve the feat. That it came in the same game he hit his first career homer is especially cool. It really was a good game overall for Lester, who also generated 14 whiffs on the night.
- His final line in the game looks bad because he was sent out to pitch the fifth inning despite already being near 100 pitches, and the Cubs already had an enormous lead. He got knocked around immediately in the inning before he was pulled. Let there be no doubt whatsoever that the *only* reason he was sent out there in the fifth was because of the stupid pitcher win stat, for which he could not qualify without a fifth inning of work. I understand that Joe Maddon has to do right by his players, and I also understand that many pitchers care about the stat because of its historic context, but … sigh. It is a scourge on the game of baseball, and I cannot wait until the day it dies.
- As for why Lester managed only four innings last night, it was just a matter of a tighter strike zone (more deep counts) and the D-Backs fouling off a ton of pitches. The tight zone helped the Cubs’ bats, so there are no complaints here.
- The new guy in the bullpen got in on the fun immediately last night, which is pretty awesome when you consider the whirlwind his last few days have probably been:
Welcome to the party, Justin Wilson!
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 2, 2017
- Kyle Schwarber reached base TWICE as a pinch hitter last night, thanks to the Cubs batting around in the inning in which he pinch hit. Although I’m quite certain that’s happened before in baseball history, it’s gotta be extremely rare.
- You rarely hear a player voice this publicly – and as well-put – so good on Dallas Keuchel for putting it out there. It’s a reminder that front offices have a lot to consider at the Trade Deadline:
When asked about Trade Deadline, Keuchel said: "I'm not going to lie. Disappointment is a little bit of an understatement." pic.twitter.com/hUgk3M45jg
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) August 1, 2017
- There is no exaggeration here, as this is one of the best catches I’ve ever seen:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) August 2, 2017
- As for new catcher Alex Avila, Joe Maddon conceded that he’s the back-up, but he’s not really a back-up-type player (CSN). That could lead to more playing time than usual for a back-up, which would seem a good thing even for Willson Contreras, who is fantastic, but could probably use a little extra rest down the stretch to stay fresh. Let’s not forget: this is Contreras’s first full season at the big league level, and what’s been asked of him is quite significant.
- Max Scherzer probably wasn’t going to pitch in the upcoming series against the Cubs anyway, but he left his start last night with a neck spasm. If he’s truly fine, maybe the Nats will shift things around to bump him up to face the Cubs on Sunday on regular rest, since he didn’t pitch much. Or maybe they play it safe and give him extra rest.
- Adidas MLS fan gear is up to 50% off today at Amazon.