The Rundown: Cubs’ Slide Continues in Brew City, Báez Struggling with Strikeouts, Ross Worried About Potential COVID-19 Outbreak

If you wanted to bail on the North Siders right now I don’t suppose anybody could blame you. After last night’s 6-3 loss to the Brewers, the 4-6 Cubs look a lot more like a 1-9 team and find themselves duking it out with the Pirates for last place in the NL Central. Granted, we’re only 10 games into the season, but Chicago’s weakling hitters are making the pitching staffs of Pittsburgh and Milwaukee look a lot like the 2018 Astros or 1998 Braves.

Credit should be given to the Brewers rotation, which is showing the Cubs and everybody else in baseball how to homebrew a dominant pitching staff. Other than a home run by Kris Bryant in the 4th inning of last night’s game, his third of the season, Chicago looked foolish at the plate against Freddy Peralta. That was particularly true for Javier Báez, who had one of the ugliest at-bats of his career in the same inning. It’s hard to believe Báez is hitting .243 on the season when you consider he’s now struck out 17 times in 39 plate appearances.

If you’re looking for a silver lining, it’s that Adbert Alzolay was as dominating as Peralta through five innings before the wheels absolutely fell off. Milwaukee was 4-for-7 with runners in scoring position as they chased Alzolay and legend-in-the-making breaking reliever Andrew Chafin with a six-spot that put the game away. But give the young right-hander his due, he pitched just 21.1 innings last year and can be excused for lacking the stamina of other starters right now.

As he has shown the propensity to do in the past, David Ross probably left the rookie hurler in to face one or two more batters than he should have.

A more worrisome stat is that Cubs batters have now struck out 100 times in 10 games and have looked pathetic for the most part in doing so. I’m still of the mindset that Anthony Iapoce may be the worst hitting coach to occupy that position in Chicago since the 1970s, but then again, it doesn’t seem to matter who wears that hat when it comes to the club’s hitters since 2017. For a team with a number of players who will be looking to cash in on big paydays in free agency, they look a lot more like the Bad News Bears than the team that won the World Series five seasons ago.

Perhaps the Cubs are pressing, and that’s far from unfathomable if you break down their plate appearances through three-plus series. If you find yourself in a hole, sometimes you need to stop digging. Then again, if your ship is sinking, it certainly does no good to stop bailing water. I guess that’s a fringy paradox of sorts, though it’s an apt description of Chicago’s offensive futility.

Things don’t get much easier for the boys in blue tonight, as Brandon Woodruff takes the bump at American Family Field. Woodruff, you may remember, one-hit the Cubs at Wrigley Field last week, and probably isn’t going to be the cure for the current malaise afflicting Chicago’s bats.

Beyond what’s happening on the field, the team is said to be concerned about a potential coronavirus outbreak after bullpen coach Chris Young and first base coach Craig Driver tested positive for the infectious virus. The team placed relievers Jason Adam, Dan Winkler and Brandon Workman on the COVID-19 injured list before yesterday’s game, with all three back in Chicago isolating for the time being.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

You can say what you want about Joe West’s abilities as an umpire as long as you don’t cross the line of defaming his character. Former catcher Paul Lo Duca found that out to the tune of $500,000.

How About That!

The Twins postponed last night’s game against the Red Sox in the wake of the tragic and unnecessary shooting of Daunte Wright by a Minneapolis police officer.

Kyle Schwarber made his debut with the Nationals and doubled in a run to help Washington beat the Cardinals 5-2.

The Phillies took the contrarian route of retaining most of their free agents this year and its paid off so far.

The slider is quickly becoming baseball’s new weapon of choice. Red Sox hurler Nathan Eovaldi is an example of one of many pitchers who have ratcheted up their arsenal with the addition of the wipeout pitch.

The legendary status of Detroit Rule 5 pick up Akil Baddoo continues to grow. The once-unknown outfielder is showing no signs of regressing to the mean just yet.

Twins outfielder and former No. 1 overall prospect Byron Buxton, who has suffered from various injuries and inconsistency throughout his young career, is finally breaking out.

Royals catcher Salvador Pérez had a 4-for-4 night and picked up his 1,000th career hit in doing so.

White Sox closer Liam Hendriks said his slumping teammates need to focus on “winning April” before thinking about winning the World Series.

Gaffes in baseball’s review process have erroneously tilted the outcomes of some early season games.

Though just 10 games old for most teams, the 2021 season has already provided several outstanding moments and a couple career performances.

Tigers manager A.J Hinch returned to Houston last night to a standing ovation.

Hinch said he has had a lot of time to reflect on the sign-stealing scam that tainted the Astros’ 2018 championship.

Monday’s Three Stars

  1. Tyler Glasnow – Rays manager Kevin Cash let Glasnow, who is armed with a new slider, pitch long enough to record 14 strikeouts in 7.2 innings of two-hit, shoutout baseball against the Rangers last night.
  2. Freddy Peralta – The Brewers starter recorded 10 punchouts in six innings, his only blemish a solo homer to Bryant in an otherwise outstanding performance.
  3. Yu Darvish – The 34-year-old former Cubs ace allowed three hits over seven dominant innings in beating the Pirates 6-2. Darvish punched out six Pittsburgh batters in a very crisp outing to earn his first win of the season.

Stealing Home

I worked in my downtown Chicago office yesterday for the first time since March 9, 2020. The South Loop is still like a ghost town, some businesses are still boarded up, and with just five co-workers in an office that seats 350 individuals at full capacity, it was surreal at best and tragic at worst. The whole scene reminded me of the movie “Night of the Comet,” and, though I never thought I’d say this, going back to my old desk felt like a much needed break after 13 months of working from home.

Extra Innings

How do you not love Zack Greinke?

They Said It

  • “I think that once you get a positive and what we got with Craig [Driver], it’s just on your radar for a while. There’s always that underlying ‘˜How big is this?’ There’s concern, for sure.”David Ross
  • “Still really early. I like the process of which these guys are going about it. We’ve just got to stay on the attack, and we’ll get our timing down. I’m optimistic about this offense. I believe in this offense.” – Ross
  • “[The 350th career save] is a self-accomplishment in a team game. It’s something that’s given once you’re done playing and you’re not part of the team anymore. It’s not something that I can say I haven’t thought about. Obviously, I’ve had success, I’ve seen what other guys have done, but it’s not something that consumes me. I still have to do my job, I’ve still got a lot more years to play, I’ve still got a lot more saves to get and a lot more winning to be a part of for that to actually be a conversation.”Craig Kimbrel

Tuesday Walk-Up Song

That Thing You Do by the Wonders (fictional band). We can only hope the Cubs aren’t one-hit wonders against Woodruff again this evening.

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