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Craziest Game of the Year? Lackey’s Streak, Matheny Ejected, Rondon’s Outing, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

Just a reminder for anyone who wants to hang out this weekend: I will be at the Beyond the Box Score meet-up on Friday night at JP Burke’s, and I will be at the John Baker Day event at Nisei Lounge on Saturday morning. Come be my friend!


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  • So, that was a crazy game last night. From the opening bases loaded situation with a Kyle Schwarber throw from the outfield, to the Anthony Rizzo grand slam in the bottom of the first, to the second straight bases loaded situation with a play at the plate, to the Cubs bullpen blowing a five-run lead (after having a 98.4% win expectancy), to John Lackey stealing a base, to John Lackey getting picked off of second base on a walk, to Joe Maddon getting ejected after a bizarre “swing” call on Ben Zobrist, to the Cubs walking it off on a wild pitch. Wow. Just looking back at it all … was that the craziest game of the year so far for the Cubs? I mean, it’s no 6-0 comeback against the Mariners, extra-inning, walk-off bunt situation (still the craziest regular season game I can remember), but still – last night was nuts.
  • About his base-stealing fun, John Lackey says the suggestion came from first base coach Brandon Hyde, but Lackey said no at first (Tribune): “When I got the hit, Hyde said, ‘Do you want to steal a base?’ I said, ‘Heck no, I’m tired.’ But after the first pitch, nobody was really watching me and it was pretty easy so I went ahead and went.”
  • As for getting picked off on a Ben Zobrist walk, Lackey wasn’t just being mindless out there – he said on a 3-2 count with Kris Bryant behind Zobrist, he figured Zobrist would get a strike or would be swinging, so he suggested he wanted to take advantage and get an extremely aggressive lead so he could score on a hit (ESPN).

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  • Grace, poetry, a song:
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
  • Speaking of Lackey, how about another perfectly solid, capable start from the Cubs’ nominal fifth starter? Lackey has made seven starts since the beginning of July, and all seven have given the Cubs a chance to win. He’s got a 3.29 ERA over that stretch, which is obviously excellent. What’s interesting, though, is that his peripherals aren’t much different than they were earlier this year with a notable exception: his HR/FB ratio is just 11.9%, or about league average. That’s down from the insane, league-leading heights that it was in the first half. Did Lackey figure out a way to give up less powerful fly balls, or is this expected statistical regression? I tend to think it’s both, and one thing that’s been very nice to see during this stretch: Lackey’s hard contact rate is a very low 22.8%. Guys aren’t squaring him up right now.
  • About the bullpen blowup: the homer off of Carl Edwards Jr. doesn’t concern me – it was one dinger, and that happens. The Hector Rondon inning was more troubling, though it was just his second appearance since August 1, so you wonder about rust, and with the 6-1 lead, he was in there to pound the strike zone. Of course, part of the reason he’s gone so long between outings was because he was dealing with a stiff back. It was this time last year that Rondon was working his way back from a minor triceps issue that left him without his great command or movement, and made him extremely hittable. That doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with last night, but it conjures bad memories just the same, especially after Rondon had looked so good again this year.

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  • As Michael wrote this morning, the Cardinals’ game last night, like the Cubs game, also involved a crazy walk-off – though it went against the Cardinals. And, like the Cubs, the game also involved the manager getting ejected in the bottom of the 9th. In Mike Matheny’s case, it was a truly bizarre one – the home plate umpire apparently called time on his own because he felt the pitcher was taking too long and the ump “needed a break” (Cardinals.com). The whole thing came on an 0-2 count as the Cardinals pitcher was trying to control the running game, so, yeah, I’d be pretty mad if I were Matheny, too.
  • This also happened to the Cardinals last night … in a game they lost by one run  (LOL):

  • Potentially much worse for the Cardinals, something was wrong with resurgent reliever Trevor Rosenthal in the inning, and he may head to the DL.
  • This is very funny and spot on satire by The Onion … but did it have to be a Cubs fan:

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  • Speaking of the man-woman sports fan dynamic, I had a little fun with the “he’s thinking, she’s thinking” meme that went around after a perfect shot showed up in last night’s broadcast following the bullpen breakdown:

  • ARG MY GROIN:

  • Chicago fans surveyed by JD Power rated the White Sox experience best in the city, with the Cubs and Bears coming in the last two spots. Kay.
  • Speaking of the White Sox, they have earned every compliment they receive about their current rebuild, and I have another one for them. This is a really, really great perspective from an older owner:

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  • Tell me again how pitchers batting is a good thing:


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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.