The Rundown: Imanaga Shuts Down Mets, Bats Remain Silent, Steele Close to Returning, Beekeeper Gets Baseball Card

“You’re driving me crazy! When are you coming home?” – James, Laid

Chicago’s bats are like a disease without any cure these days. That the Cubs won despite mustering just one run on five hits is a testament to Shōta Imanaga, who was once again magnificent on the mound. Imanaga pitched seven innings of shutout baseball with seven strikeouts, and Héctor Neris earned his fifth save thanks to a controversial 9th-inning call that went the Cubs’ way.

Imanaga has been a bit of a superhero since joining the Cubs and he’s been baseball’s best acquisition through the first month of the season. He has been the game’s best bargain, too, with a deal that can max out at $80 million over five seasons. The 30-year-old rookie exorcized the 1969 ghosts of Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman with Wednesday night’s performance.

“He was outstanding,” manager Craig Counsell said. “Seven really strong innings. Wasn’t in trouble really. It was crisp, it was clean. Just a well-pitched game.”

Sounds like a Seven-Up commercial.

Those types of outings used to be reserved for Mets pitchers when they faced the Cubs. José Buttó looked like the second coming of Ron Darling with the way he silenced Chicago’s bats, though a high school pitcher might be a tough assignment for the Cubs with the way they’re hitting. Chicago’s North Side Baseballers couldn’t hit their way out of a wet paper bag right now, and I wouldn’t want to watch them try. The gag reel that follows most rom-coms isn’t as funny as watching the Cubs struggle against mediocre pitching.

Perhaps day baseball and home cooking are just what the team needs to un-slump themselves. The Cubs get a little of both this afternoon in New York and all weekend in Chicago. Ben Brown takes the bump today and a win gives the Cubs a 4-3 road trip and 20 wins on the season, which seems almost unfathomable considering the offensive drought. That type of resiliency has been an attribute of this team all season.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Shōta cracks wise as well as he pitches.

Central Intelligence

Climbing the Ladder

“‘Fools’ said I, ‘You do not know silence like a cancer grows.'” – Simon & Garfunkel, The Sound of Silence

Chicago’s bats have gone silent on this road trip. They’ve scored 15 runs in six games, but seven came in the series opener against the Red Sox. Nico Hoerner and Mike Tauchman have been the team’s best hitters, but Amaya, Ian Happ, Christopher Morel, and Dansby Swanson are all hitting under .240. Matt Mervis is batting .130 since being recalled, but he did score the Cubs’ only run last night.

Morel, Swanson, and Happ need to pick up the offensive slack in the absence of Suzuki and Cody Bellinger. The margin of error is frightfully small when you’re averaging less than three runs per game.

  • Games Played: 31
  • Record: 19-12 (.613), 2nd place in NL Central
  • In One-Run Games: 5-5 (.500)
  • Total Plate Appearances: 1,164
  • Total Strikeouts: 272
  • Strikeout Rate: 23.37%
  • Team Batting Average: .236
  • With Runners in Scoring Position: 64-for-242 (.265)
  • Runs Scored: 150
  • Runs Allowed: 135
  • Pythagorean Record: 17-14
  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 86.9%, 4.8% chance to win World Series 

How About That!

Matt Hilton, the beekeeper-turned-folk-hero, is getting a collector’s edition baseball card from Topps.

Fans put Stephen A. Smith on blast for his insulting take on injuries, in which he specifically called out Mike Trout.

Byron Buxton is the only ballplayer who injures himself as often as Trout does, but at least the Twins won their 10th consecutive game.

The Guardians also have a streak of their own. Cleveland has played four consecutive extra-inning games, tying a team record that was set in 1910.

The Brewers call themselves the “Average Joes” and Christian Yelich calls Murphy “Patches.”

Walker Buehler is expected to make his return from his second Tommy John surgery on Monday.

Matt Snyder of CBS Sports claims that umpires aren’t as bad as baseball fans think they are.

Wednesday’s Three Stars

  1. Imanaga – He has the lowest ERA (0.78) of any pitcher in his first six career starts since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981, and he leads the NL in that statistic.
  2. Willy Adames – The Brewers shortstop was 2-for-4 with two dingers and four RBI in a 7-1 win over the Rays.
  3. Seth Lugo – He’s found a home with the Royals and improved to 5-1 in Tuesday’s win over the Blue Jays. Lugo pitched seven innings of one-run baseball with eight punchouts.

Extra Innings

Rumblin’ Bumblin’ Stumblin’ Pete Alonso couldn’t beat the throw!

Thursday Morning Six-Pack

  1. The NFC North is a lot stronger after last weekend’s draft, and all four teams improved, but the Bears stood above their division opponents with their first-round choices.
  2. Todd Ricketts’ search engine Freespoke allows anonymous queries and now labels news stories as “right,” “middle,” or “left.”
  3. A new scientific study proves that Stone Age humans rarely ate meat.
  4. A new listing on Airbnb allows its renter to die very stupidly by falling out of the residence.
  5. The United Methodist Church has lifted its ban on LGBTQ clergy and same-sex weddings.
  6. Nancy Wilson of Heart admitted that her band was jealous of Fleetwood Mac back in the 1970s.

They Said It

  • “I thought we made a great play. Ian made a good throw to Nick and Nick put a throw right on the money. Just good wherewithal by both guys to do it as fast as they did and as accurately as they could. And a great tag by Miggy.” – Counsell
  • “I think personally there’s probably not that much data on me. As they watch more video, they’re gathering more data, [and] they’re also going to have a plan for attack against me. So once that happens, just need to make an adjustment and then I need to prove myself.” – Imanaga

Thursday Walk-Up Song

The Cubs are 3-3 on this wretched road trip and finally play a division opponent when they come home Friday for a three-game set with the Brewers.

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