That win was really fun. Will it change the course of things? Almost certainly not. Might we look back next year when the Cubs are drafting, like, 9th instead of 8th and say, dang it why did they have to win that one against the Diamondbacks?! Yeah, it’s possible we will. But I remind myself today that the whole point of following baseball like we do is to be entertained. That comeback win, with two outs in the 9th, was entertaining.
• What a game for Willson Contreras, who not only hit the game-winning homer in the 9th, but also had the Cubs’ only two hits of the game through the first 5.1 innings (and a HBP, obviously). That one game bumped his season slash line from .233/.343/.415 (109 wRC+) to .241/.350/.431 (115). Pretty good line for a leadoff hitter, eh?
• Speaking of which, David Ross on his new most-days leadoff man (Marquee): “I don’t know when I look at our team that I know who exactly in my mind jumps out to fit in that leadoff spot …. I think that’s the main thing I look for. That extra at bat hasn’t affected him in the least. That’s what I want: someone that has the consistent at bat. He’s a tough at bat, he’s a good at bat, he’s taking his walks the more he’s at the top of the lineup, which has been a positive for me.” So it’s a bit of a “by default” situation, but if Contreras works good at bats up there at the top, who cares if he’s a catcher? You just have to make sure you take care of him physically, and otherwise, it’s good to get Contreras an extra at bat.
• Contreras has only one speed (via Mooney): “I told my guys, ‘Let’s start from zero. Let’s do it because I believe in this team. I believe in the talent that we have.’ … We’re looking forward to competing, and competing until the last out, like today. When we’re competing, we’re tough to beat. That’s the mindset that I’m trying to create with my teammates. I believe in each and every one of my teammates.” Whatever the situation, Contreras is just going to be his all-out, passionate, aggressive self out there.
• Contreras’s homer came after the two-out rally was kicked off by Rafael Ortega and Robinson Chirinos:
• I really love that Adbert Alzolay is developing right before our eyes at a time when, yeah, the Cubs still want to win, but there’s obviously some runway for him to work on things. Specifically, he is working on that cutter to lefties to generate some crummy contact as a counter to the dinger problem, and it was clearly a focus yesterday. Statcast is still sorting out his slider from his cutter – some of the 89 mph “sliders” were actually the cutter – but I’ve got him as throwing it at least 16 times yesterday out of 69 pitches. That’s what you want to see him ABLE to do when a team puts out a lineup with six lefty bats like yesterday. He wasn’t getting strikeouts, but the contact quality was terrible. Some of that is probably, well, Diamondbacks. But he was definitely getting in on the hands of the lefties and didn’t give up an extra-base hit.
• “It’s coming along pretty good,” Alzolay said of his cutter after the game, per NBCSC. “It was just a matter of time and knowing the pitch better and picking my spots to throw it, my locations for the pitch. And I feel that it works really well with my sinker and my slider, too. It’s been a lot of hard work to get that pitch going, but I feel super comfortable with it now.” This guy develops and deploys pitches so dang quickly, it’s incredible.
• Rowan Wick’s first rehab outing went, well, perfectly. Three batters, three strikeouts. And although the South Bend gun was almost certainly a couple clicks hot, this is still really crazy:
• I guess that is what happens when High-A batters get to face a big league back-end reliever who is apparently rocking his best stuff right now. Since health and recovery are the questions with Wick, I don’t know that we can immediately assume he’ll get bumped up for his next outing. I’m mentally targeting a return to the Cubs after the Trade Deadline.
• Craig Kimbrel is now alone in 9th place all-time in saves with 369 of ’em:
• The first place Mets have now lost three in a row to the Pirates thanks to last night’s walk-off grand slam:
Good morning. pic.twitter.com/I1HYkBud3h
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) July 18, 2021
• So that’s three losses in a row and now a mere 2.5-game lead over the Phillies for a Mets team that just lost Francisco Lindor to an oblique injury and had Jacob deGrom shut back down with some forearm tightness. The Mets should probably just go ahead and offer all of their top prospects for a bat and a starting pitcher. To some team. A team that is willing to sell both. You know. Whatever team.
• Joc Pederson homered in his first start for the Braves (off a lefty), which, hey, good for him:
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) July 18, 2021
• The situation last night at Nationals Park was really scary for those in attendance, and reportedly three people were shot (non-life-threatening) outside the ballpark. Instead, amid the chaos, a number of Padres and Nationals were trying to help keep people safe, not knowing what was going on:
"I grabbed a child in front of me because the lady in front of me didn’t really know what was happening. […] Then we see [Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.], and he’s out here, and he tells everybody, ‘Go, just go.’" https://t.co/sX8vJd28Bn
— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) July 18, 2021