How Far Can You Fall in Two Weeks? More Ugly Records, Wild Card Race, Ohtani, and Other Cubs Bullets

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How Far Can You Fall in Two Weeks? More Ugly Records, Wild Card Race, Ohtani, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Today is the 4th of July parade and fireworks and all that jazz in our city, which is such a welcome return after missing them last year. The kids love it, we have an excuse to have beer and ice cream, and it’s just one more signifier that we can live life normally again.

How far can you fall in two weeks? Well, the Cubs – and Brewers – have shown us that the answer is pretty damn far.

•   On June 17, the Cubs beat the Mets to move alone into first place in the NL Central. It didn’t feel like a high point at the time, you’ll recall, because that was a salvage job in a four-game series where the Cubs lost the first three. But because of the super hot May, and then a bad week at the time by the Brewers, it was the Cubs first time back alone in first place since earlier in the month. Maybe it didn’t feel like a high point, but it did feel like a good spot to make a run.

•   … after last night’s loss, just two weeks later, the Cubs have lost 8.5 games to the Brewers, falling from a game up to 7.5 games back. In two weeks. (Heck, it was just over one week ago that the Cubs were still tied atop the standings.) That’s pretty hard to pull off, and it required a combination of the Cubs losing 10 of 13 and the Brewers winning 12 of 13. While everything we’ve said this past week about just not doing anything until the All-Star break generally remains true – you never know, it’s just one game at a time, yada yada – you don’t want to become the frog in the pot that boils to death because the temperature is increased so slowly. At some point you have to jump out of the pot. And while the trades probably aren’t going to happen before the break anyway, I mean, if this thing gets to 10 games out by early next week? Set your course. No need to wait another week at that point.

•   It is weird that the Cubs are now 6.0 games back of the second Wild Card, yet 7.5 games back in the division. They’re the “third place” team in the Wild Card race, with no one in between them and the Padres. But do I think the Cubs can more likely catch the Padres in the standings by the end of the year than the Brewers? I do not. (And, obviously I’m not optimistic about the Brewers thing.) So would the Cubs hold/buy in order to make a run at the Wild Card? I really don’t think so. They’d have to be MUCH closer than 6.0 games come late July.

•   No surprise here if you’ve been watching:

•   And another from Rogers: “The Cubs have had 8 or fewer hits in 19 consecutive games, the longest such streak by any team since the 1972 Mets did so in 20 straight.” Three weeks of PAINFUL offense. It has not been fun to watch. And although the return of Nico Hoerner this weekend-ish should help a little on this front, it ain’t gonna solve it. Matt Duffy can’t return until July 22 at the earliest (and who knows if even that will happen), and the biggest need is a turnaround from the big, already-present bats.

•   Good to see Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo back in the lineup last night, and hopefully each feels OK today after game action.

•   Also good to see Jason Heyward barrel one up last night. During this horror stretch, he’s actually the only Cubs hitter on a fire streak. Still don’t know if it’s a legit corner turned or not, but as we’ve discussed ad nauseam, he’s streaky because of the complicated timing in his swing. So if he is in a hot streak, it can last for a while.

•   Also good to see Alec Mills have a great start. Like I noted last night, the wiiiide strike zone helped, obviously, but he was definitely also executing his pitches very well. Loved how he stayed up with the two-seamer to really jam the righties, and his slider and changeup were fantastic complements.

•   I won’t step on Bryan’s work, but the short version is: holy crap it was a really good day in the Cubs’ farm system yesterday. Needed that, not only because of the big league swoon, but also because outside of some really fun pop-up arms, there haven’t been a lot of overwhelmingly positive stories from the farm this year. Not only did the Cubs’ five active affiliates win six games between them, but there were so many explosive performances. Among them, I can’t decide which is better, relatively speaking: Christopher Morel hitting three homers in a double-header, or Ed Howard notching four hits in his game? Also just great to see those two, in particular, having huge days, because they are so important to the future of the organization.

•   One of the subtle things that has sucked about broadcasters not being allowed to travel this year:

•   … but it turns out, the Cubs’ crew just started traveling to road games as of last night:

•   Eli did a good tweet:

•   If you were digging the 4th of July caps the Cubs were wearing last night, you can get it here at the MLB Shop.

•   Shohei Ohtani homered TWICE MORE last night, giving him 30 on the season before the 4th of July. And he’s a great pitcher. I just … you just cannot overstate how much what he is doing is beyond special. We have never seen a player even remotely close to this in our lifetime.

•   Absolute craziness in the Marlins-Braves game last night, with the first pitch hitting Ronald Acuña Jr., which got Pablo Lopez immediately ejected (there is history there of the Marlins plunking Acuña, but it has been several years, and it seems a little weird that the umpires assumed this was intentional):

•   I really don’t see any reason to believe that was intentional, including Lopez’s immediate reaction – he was pretty clearly pissed with himself, privately (not performative), that the pitch got away from him. The Marlins were obviously pissed, including the social media team, who sent out this since-deleted tweet:

•   Albert Pujols, speed demon:

•   OK, this is pretty cool once you see it:

https://twitter.com/ThatEricAlper/status/1410991862752677892

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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.