The Rundown: Offense Comes Alive, Murphy Solid in Cubs Debut, Division and Wild Card Races Remain Tight

Admit it. When David Bote hit a two-run homer in the 5th inning of last night’s game you breathed a sigh of relief and silently muttered “Freaking streak is over” or something similar. Bote’s tater gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead that actually felt like a 10-1 lead considering the previous five games. That was the first time since August 15 that Chicago scored multiple runs in a game.

The Cubs broke out of their deep offensive (double entendre intended) slumber, beating the Tigers 8-2. They hit three home runs, including back-to-back jacks by Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo in the 9th inning to break open a close game. Daniel Murphy had two hits and an RBI in his debut. What a relief, you know, to hang a few crooked numbers.

Yesterday’s win came at an opportune time as the Cardinals, Brewers, Braves and Diamondbacks all won their Wednesday night games. Chicago leads the Central Division by 2 1/2 games over the Redbirds. The Brewers are three back, and Atlanta trails the Cubs by a game and a half for best record in the National League. Arizona sits two games behind the Northsiders.

The Cubs are now 72-53 ahead of a four game series with the Reds at Wrigley Field that starts tonight. Cole Hamels takes the bump in tonight’s 7:05pm tilt.

Cubs News & Notes

Daniel Murphy was 2-for-5 in his Cubs debut. Bote is a big fan of Murphy already.

“Pfft. Love the guy,” said Bote. “Baseball rat, just like us. I’m so excited he’s with us. Such a good dude, such a good teammate. First impressions of him are outstanding.”

The Cubs placed Addison Russell on the 10-day DL with a sprained left middle finger. Murphy took his place on the roster and Russell will be back with the team after rosters expand on September 1.

Jon Lester earned his 14th win on the season last night, surpassing his win total for all of 2017.

Rizzo’s home run was his 20th on the season, giving him six straight seasons of at least 20 dingers. Rizzo is the third Cubs player to reach the 20-HR plateau this season, joining Javy Baez (26) and Kyle Schwarber (22)  .

How About That!

The Cardinals swept the Dodgers for the first time in 12 years.

The Nationals beat the Phillies on a walk-off home run by Ryan Zimmermann that was initially ruled a double. The play was changed to a home run after video review. As for Zimmerman, that was his 11th career walk-off home run. Is that a lot? You bet it is. Only seven players in history have more: Jim Thome (13); Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Albert Pujols, Stan Musial, Frank Robinson and Babe Ruth (all have 12).

Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuña Jr. became the first teammates in baseball history to hit 20+ home runs in the same season before either player turned 22 years old. Acuña’s leadoff home run was his sixth of the year and he’s done it in only 31 games batting at the top of the order.

Based on odds, the Oakland A’s are the most overachieving MLB team right now. They just became the first team to surpass their predicted season win total (75.5) with their 76th win.

The Orioles were shut out for the 12th time this season  and became baseball’s first 90-loss team of 2018. The 1962 Mets, the worst team in modern baseball history, went 40-120 for a .250 winning percentage. At 37-90, the Orioles are playing at a .291 clip. For what it’s worth, the Royals have 89 losses right now.

The National League Cy Young award race gets a head-to-head look when Max Scherzer (16-5, 2.11 ERA) takes on Aaron Nola (14-3, 2.23 ERA) this afternoon in Washington, D.C.

Yankees first baseman Greg Bird was visibly frustrated after the Marlins beat New York 9-4 last night. Bird went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in the loss and is now batting .202 in 247 at-bats this year.

Wednesday’s Three Stars

  1. Christian Yelich – The Brewers OF stepped up by reaching base five times with four hits and a walk, including a leadoff home run and two RBIs in Milwaukee’s 4-0 win over the Reds.
  2. Thomas Pannone – Who? The Jays’ rookie pitcher one-hit the anemic Orioles over seven innings in Toronto’s 6-0 win. It was the 24-year-old’s first career start.
  3. Clay Buchholz – The Diamondbacks have arguably the best staff in the National League and Buchholz has been one of the league’s hottest pitchers. Last night he scattered fou hits over seven innings with seven strikeouts in Arizona’s 5-1 win over the Angels. Buchholz has a 1.55 ERA with 25 Ks in 29 innings thus far in August, and now sits at 12-5 on the season.

Extra Innings

Looking for some on-field unpleasantness? Here is a look at the worst moment for each MLB team. A team’s worst memory could be a heartbreaking loss, a bonehead play, a long losing streak, or even an entire bad season. For some franchises, the choice was difficult. For the Cardinals, it was the Ryne Sandberg Game.

Javy Baez looked to be hurt pretty badly when he fouled a ball off of his leg in the 9th inning of yesterday’s win. Turns out he was okay after all.

They Said It

  • “The Yankees don’t seem to have the energy of a winning team. I understand some key players are injured, but they don’t seem to be hustling out there.” – Pedro Martinez
  • “Obviously everyone is entitled to his opinion. [Martinez] is probably a Red Sox fan more than a Yankee fan. We have the second-best record in the game. They have the best and have a great team that is playing well.” – Brett Gardner
  • “Talked to [Murphy] a little bit there in the ninth inning, kind of just scratching the surface of hitting and approach, and what he’s got. I’m so excited he’s with us.” – David Bote
  • “[Addison Russell] is pretty beat up right now. The thing I love about him is he doesn’t make excuses. Let’s get him well, let’s get him ready for the last month.” – Joe Maddon

Thursday Walk Up Song

You Don’t Want Me Anymore by Steel Breeze. Yes, the Cubs kicked those solo-home-run, one-run per-game losses to the curb.

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