He probably wouldn’t have made the roster at all were it not for Javy Baez’s annoying propensity for headfirst slides and he probably wouldn’t have stuck around had Kyle Schwarber not blown out his knee in an unfortunate collision with Dexter Fowler. But Matt Szczur has sure as hell made the most of the opportunity he’s been given.
So far this season, that opportunity has included two pinch-hit at-bats with the bases loaded. On a warm Opening Night in Anaheim, the former Villanova wide receiver doubled to clear the bases. And on a brisk Friday afternoon in Chicago, he launched a grand (Papa) slam into left to put the game out of reach.
As the conquering hero stood talking with CSN’s Kelly Crull he was viciously attacked by a man he once considered a friend. I’m not sure how the creaking and popping of David Ross’s aging knees didn’t betray him, but he somehow got the drop on Szczur to shower him with the icy contents of a Gatorade jug. And then the perpetrator had the audacity to high-arm his victim. Et tu, Rossy?
I don’t want to be the prank police or anything, but Grandpa Rossy might want to cool it (pun fully intended) on stunts like this. Should the tables be turned at some point this season, he stands an elevated risk of heart attack. I mean, there’s no way that old-ass ticker can handle the shock of an ice bath. With that in mind, I’d suggest he not do anything worthy of celebration until Miguel Montero is back from the DL.
But back to the game and the Cubs’ execution of a now-familiar MO. Braves starter Aaron Blair, who grew up a Cubs fan in Las Vegas and is a longtime friend of Kris Bryant, allowed just a single run over six strong innings. It’s unfortunate that the two didn’t get the chance to face one another, but it must have been a real trip for the rookie to make his second career start at Wrigley. Then his bullpen tripped as well, giving up five runs in the 8th.
The Cubs are just so dangerous and can win in pretty much every way imaginable. They can jump out early or win late, can execute small ball or hit big flies, can win pitcher’s duels and can bludgeon you with runs.
Szczur’s slam illustrates something that aforementioned convalescing catcher said the other day about this team: Anybody. Anytime.