The Rundown: Happy Labor Day, In Praise of September Baseball, Javy’s MVP Candidacy, Hawk Harrelson Says Goodbye

Happy Labor Day, everybody. Though I lamented the end of summer in Friday’s rundown, there is something to say about September baseball, which is typically the most exciting time of year for Cubs fans since Joe Maddon took over in 2015. There are plenty of seasonal distractions that can get in the way of baseball fanaticism once the calendar rolls into June, but for the next two months, at least for me, only family comes before baseball.

Though I’m sometimes guilty of avoiding familial responsibilities when Jon Lester pitches.

Lucky for me, the Cubs kick off the fall leg of their schedule with a three-game set in Milwaukee. I am actually thinking of getting the Uecker seats for Tuesday night, but Wednesday night I’ll sit in the box seats. I really want the Brewers to make the playoffs, and they’ll have their work cut out for them if the Cubs win this series.

After taking two of three from the Phillies, Chicago has built a semi-comfortable lead in the Central Division and for the best record in the National League.

  1. Cubs 81-55 .596
  2. Braves 76-60 .559
  3. Brewers 77-61 .558
  4. Cardinals 76-61 .555
  5. Dodgers 75-62 .547
  6. Rockies 74-62 .540
  7. Diamondbacks 74-63 .540
  8. Phillies 72-64 .529

Watch out for Los Angeles. Both the Dodgers and Cubs have won eight of their last 10 and a third straight NLCS matchup is a real possibility. In that span, the Dodgers have increased their playoff probability to 87.4 percent.

Cubs News & Notes

The Cubs hit three solo home runs on Sunday. The first one came from Daniel Murphy in the 3rd inning after Aaron Nola had struck out seven straight batters. Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez also homered, the latter of which pushed Javy to two milestones: 30 dingers and 100 RBI.

Baez is the first player in team history to get 30 home runs, 100 RBI, 20 SB, and five triples in the same season.

The Cubs also had three triples in yesterday’s game, marking just the second time that the team has had three home runs and three triples in the same game since 1900, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

The Cubs have won games this week that were started by Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Mike Foltynewicz, and now Nola. That’s playoff tested and ready.

The Cubs are 10-2 since acquiring Daniel Murphy from the Nationals.

Speaking of acquisitions, Cole Hamels has turned back the clock on his career since arriving. I don’t think the Cubs will pick up his 2019 option, but he will get paid and paid well by somebody next season.

How About That!

The Cincinnati Reds got back-to-back extra innings longballs to beat the Cardinals 6-4 on Sunday in St. Louis.

The Dodgers have engineered three consecutive come-from-behind 3-2 victories over the Diamondbacks to steal the division lead.

Christian Yelich has been particularly hot of late, hitting four homers and knocking in 14 on Milwaukee’s six-game road trip. The Brewers won five of six against the Reds and the Nationals and passed St. Louis for the first Wild Card spot in the National League.

Rule 5 draft pick Victor Reyes hit his first major league homer, doubled twice, and singled, driving in three runs to help the Tigers beat the Yankees 11-7 and earn a series split.

The Rangers rode a nine-run 6th inning, hit six homers and 12 total extra-base hits in an 18-4 laugher over the Twins.

The White Sox are relishing their role as this season’s spoilers. The Southsiders have won eight of 10, including a series win against the Yankees and a split with the Red Sox. The future looks good for the ChiSox.

Sunday’s Three Stars

  1. Stephen Piscotty – The A’s outfielder was 2-for-3 — both hits being home runs — and had five RBI in Oakland’s 8-2 victory over the Mariners.
  2. Nomar Mazara – The third-year Rangers outfielder finished off a nice weekend with a 3-for-5 day that included two home runs. Mazara was 5-for-14 with four home runs, a double and seven RBI in the three-game set against Minnesota.
  3. Noah Syndergaard – Thor pitched a two-hitter on Sunday in his first career complete game, striking out 11 as the Mets beat the Giants, 4-1 in San Francisco.

On Deck Circle

Happy Labor Day to all Cubs Insider staff and to all of our readers. I hope you all appreciate why you have your time today and understand why we have this holiday –  what its origins are, what it is meant to commemorate, and why it matters.

Extra Innings

He takes a lot of punches for his homerism, but I am a fan of Ken Harrelson. The Hawk is retiring after this season and leaves just Bob Uecker as the last of the old-time brigade of announcers and color commentators that served as team promoters as much as callers of baseball games.

Harrelson will call his final games for the White Sox later this month, as he will step into the booth for the call of the team’s series against the Chicago Cubs.

The Said It

  • “I walk in there pissed off whenever we lose. Bottom line, we may have some bumps where we lose to teams you shouldn’t think we should, and that’s always frustrating. Losses stink. But as far as who it’s against? I don’t really care. Let’s get after it. Period.” – Aaron Boone
  • “Daniel coming here is the separator. For a while there, we weren’t really playing a wonderful offensive brand of baseball.” – Joe Maddon
  • “We can be relentless at times. I love that about our group. I’m still looking for that moment where we move the ball with a runner on third and less than two outs more consistently, but other than that, I thought there was a really good passing of the baton from one batter to the next.” – Joe Maddon
  • “I think everyone is getting to see what the hype is all about when they drafted [Javy Baez] and called him up. Glad he’s on our side.” – Jon Lester

Monday Walk Up Song

Sixteen Tons by “Tenessee” Ernie Ford. The old man’s favorite Labor Day song and a staple at our annual barbecue.

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