Cardinals Happy to Piss Off Cubs Fans, Homers, Soft Contact, and Other Bullets

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Cardinals Happy to Piss Off Cubs Fans, Homers, Soft Contact, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I thought a leisurely morning of exercise and playing with the kiddos would put me in a better place to talk about the Cubs, but it turns out I’m still pretty enraged about yesterday’s loss. I do the best I can to be thoughtful about the realities of a 162-game season, but there’s still a little meatball in me. Some losses, for whatever reason, just stick to me so hard that I can’t seem to do the usual “yeah, well, they’re gonna lose a lot of games and you’re gonna hate most of them, so chill out” thing. The way the Cubs farted that game away – twice – is aggravating beyond most losses, especially because it was against the Cardinals, and especially because it came on the heels of a three-game losing streak.

  • All right. Maybe I can still turn this day around. I’ll start with some good things, like the anniversary of a great memory:

  • Another good thing was seeing Anthony Rizzo’s third homer in four games:

  • If the Cubs’ offense is going to turn it around any time soon, Rizzo will necessarily be a big part of that. It was also great to see Javy Baez somehow yank this pitch (how?!?) out of the park:

  • The answer to the “how” is at least a couple things, including the fact that Baez simply has incredible natural bat control and also the fact that he was pretty clearly looking for that slider and thus got his bat head out on it before it dove too much. On a better day, that would have been such a freaking fantastic highlight. Alas.
  • You know what? I actually liked seeing Kolten Wong say this after his walk-off homer:

  • Rivalries are good and fun, and Wong is correct that we were extremely pissed off. Well done, sir. I can celebrate the next Cubs win over the Cardinals – hopefully tonight – just a little more enjoyably now because of that.
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
  • The win was costly, though, as the Cardinals have lost Yadier Molina for at least a month, a couple other guys went down with undetermined injuries.
  • This is a *fantastic* read from Patrick Mooney on what the Cubs are trying to do offensively (and what they’re not trying to do), and what it means to have Chili Davis in the house now:

  • A couple miscellaneous stats to note in relation to that article: the Cubs’ groundball rate and fly ball rate are both middle of the pack right now, which is actually *better* than where they were last year (well, presuming you believe fly balls are better than groundballs … which they are). Instead, the problem has been the explosion of soft contact (Cubs are worst in baseball) and evaporation of hard contact (Cubs are 8th worst).
  • And to that end, a trend I’m following: the Cubs are second worst in baseball in first strike percentage (i.e., they start out at 0-1 more than any team except the White Sox). But it’s not like they’re just taking strikes for no reason – the Cubs actually have the third highest zone swing percentage in baseball! It’s also not like they’re just whiffing ceaselessly – their contact rate is middle of the pack, and their zone contact rate is, too. It’s interesting. I haven’t landed on any kind of hypothesis yet, but it’s something I’m mulling. Without any other information, and knowing that it’s been only 30 games, my instinct would be, “Hmm, I guess the Cubs have faced a ton of really aggressive, good command pitchers so far.” I’m not offering that as an actual excuse, mind you, because I don’t really have any idea if that’s true. I’m just saying that’s kinda what the numbers hint at. I don’t know. Like I said, it’s just interesting.
  • (To put it another way, the nexus I’d like to figure out: if you’re disproportionately down 0-1 (not necessarily through your own fault, just a small sample of that type of pitcher), might you also see an uptick in soft contact over the course of those at bats, because you’re more likely to be in defensive posture?)
  • OK, I think maybe I can handle some yesterday-specific bad stuff now … like this line in the NBCS Chicago writeup: “Saturday’s [loss] was the toughest of [the current stretch], with the locker room after the game as quiet and solemn as it’s been since at least 2017.” That is both understandable and lamentable. You expect the players to feel the gravity of such a crappy loss, but you also don’t want them to carry any of it with them for more than 30 minutes.
  • If you were wondering, yes, the scorer changed that key 4th inning error from Anthony Rizzo to Addison Russell, who flat out dropped a fine throw from Rizzo.
  • The excellent Sonicare toothbrush is the Deal of the Day today at Amazon. Highly recommended by my teeth.
  • Great sale today at Fanatics if you want to get some sports gear which does not necessarily have to be the Cubs if you’re feeling chippy:

Author: Brett Taylor

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