You may have noticed, but around the 5th inning, after Javy Baez’s two-run double and after the swirl of Mike-Matheny-got-fired ripples, I crashed. I was in bed, computer with me, following the game and the Matheny yuks, and I just couldn’t hack it past midnight. The fun of the previous night’s win had me up until almost 3am, so that was that for me. That was the last West Coast 10pm ET start, though, I do believe. So, whew.
- Kyle Hendricks was not as economical as he would have wanted, but you always have to credit a guy who battles for the first couple innings, and then still manages to put in five innings allowing just the two runs on the first-inning homer. Speaking of which: Hendricks has now allowed 17 homers on the year, as many as he allowed in all of 2017 or 2015, and two more than he allowed in all of 2016. It’s a serious problem, and a full 9 of those 17 homers have come in the first inning, when batters are hitting an obscene .269/.313/.654 against him. I highly doubt it’s a matter of Hendricks not being properly prepared, so I have to wonder about whether there are some strategic ways the Cubs can regroup over the break and put him in a better position to succeed right out of the gate, rather than needing time to settle in.
- There sure are still a lot of homers in baseball. After Ian Happ swatted his 11th last night, the Cubs are up to … 4 players in the top 46 in the NL. That feels lower than I would have expected (Javy Baez has 19, Kyle Schwarber has 18, Anthony Rizzo has 12, and Happ has 11), but we’ve seen atypically low homer outputs from Kris Bryant (10) and Willson Contreras (7), so that’s probably why there’s a disconnect in the feeling. Plus, the Cubs have gotten at least 4 homers from 10 different players, and that sure feels like a lot.
- Still, the Cubs’ trio of dingers last night put them at an even 100 on the year – just 19th in baseball, and 9th in the National League.
- … not that it’s hurting them overall:
#Cubs lead NL in runs (469), team batting average (.265), on-base percentage (.345) and OPS (.771)
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) July 15, 2018
- There’s obviously good stuff in here, but it’s also a reminder that Baez will not be getting a break this week:
Javy just told us he almost didn't play today. Had a headache earlier and every time he swung in the cage, his body hurt. But he stayed in the lineup since they were playing short-handed (Almora was tending to a family situation, all is well though) and he did what Javy does…
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) July 15, 2018
- He plays in the Home Run Derby tomorrow night, and then the All-Star Game the next night. Then he gets one day off on Wednesday before the Cubs and Cardinals (and only the Cubs and Cardinals) are right back in action on Thursday. Every other team is off until Friday.
- With a hat tip to a bunch of people who pointed this out on Twitter, Javy Baez is having an all-time season:
- (Also, make sure you’re following us on Instagram for more goodness like that!)
- What else can you even say about Javy? Joe Maddon tried (ESPN): “I like the way he’s going about his business,” Maddon said. “He’s playing the game right, playing the game hard, playing the game smartly, he’s just playing the game of baseball. I don’t think he has an analytical bone in his body. RBI are groovy, despite what people say. His baserunning skills, acumen, he’s a baseball player. He’s absolutely fun to watch.”
- And RBI *are* groovy. What Maddon is likely referencing is the fact that analytical types (yo) don’t really track RBI all that much because they don’t tell us too much in isolation about a player’s individual performance, and they tell us even less about what could come next. But they’re fun, sure. When you get outlier type RBI numbers, it’s fun to note it. They’re groovy. Driving in runs is of course a wonderful thing.
- Speaking of which, for his five-RBI game last night, we’re giving Javy Baez another El Mago Moment, his third in this series against the Padres. Adding to the three he already had for the month, that’s six El Mago Moments in July, which means funds raised for Make-A-Wish! It’s not too late to join Jeff, me, and Michael on that front, or if you want to come up with some other way to site.wish.org/goto/2018bnblogathon!
- Mark Canha hit a pinch-hit, two-run, MAMMOTH homer to give the A’s the lead in the 7th inning last night, which is about as appropriate a time to flip a bat as I’ve ever heard. So he did, and he got a lot of grief for it. Love this response:
Mark Canha, on the bat toss: “I got on Twitter and got out in front of this a little bit, and I’m sure a lot of San Franciscans are offended by that, and I’m sorry.”
Then he took it back.
“People getting offended by bat flips is so silly. I’m not sorry. I’m not really sorry.”
— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) July 15, 2018