The Rundown: Cubs Conjure Split, El Mago Plays El Héroe, Kimbrel Nearly Ready, Mets Get into Altercation with Reporter After Loss

Leave it to the Cubs to take a series in which they rightfully should have won at least three of four games and turn it into an exercise in thrilling adventure to salvage a split. The North Siders spurned the Mets’ attempts to remove “Central Division Leaders” from their current bio — the reeking fruits of a lethargic 17-22 stretch since mid-May — thanks to a milestone (and incredibly clutch) hit by the face of the franchise.

It was El Mago’s 100th career home run and a curtain-call moment.

So 39,077 fans went home deliriously happy yesterday, though I wouldn’t have been one of them. After Saturday’s woeful 10-2 loss, I decided making the trip from Milwaukee to Wrigley Field wasn’t going to be worth the effort and I was going to be damned if I would give up my entire day for a repeat performance. Instead, I watched from a bungalow booth of a local craft beer establishment, and though I did go home happy, it was more about my libationary endeavors than the victory.

I don’t mind being transparent about that, though it was the first time in my life I willfully wasted $200 worth of tickets to a Cubs game in favor of a dozen or so $5 beers and a $7 Lyft ride from bar stool to doorstep. Fittingly, I spent the day drinking a coffee-flavored brown ale called Bat Shit Crazy.

That’s frustration borne of the reality that the Cubs are playing every bit as poorly of late as PECOTA projected they would back in the first week of February. The beer was delicious, however, and hopefully yesterday’s come-from-behind win will be the catalyst that propels this team to more consistent, winning baseball. I probably could have done without a handful of food truck tacos, and though I’d like to blame my morning indigestion on Chicago’s less-than-exciting fight to play .500 baseball, I am positive that my dietary choices are the true root cause.

Cubs News & Notes

How About That!

Albert Pujols called his return to St. Louis one of “the best moments of my career.” The former Cardinal great received a standing ovation each time he stepped up to the plate.

Can anybody beat the Dodgers? After six straight victories, Los Angeles now leads the NL West by 13 games. To put it into greater perspective, the Rockies have won 20 of 30 games and still lost two games in the division race.

Including yesterday’s blast by pinch hitter Will Smith, three Dodgers rookies have hit three consecutive walk-off home runs. The backup catcher now has three home runs in just 22 at-bats on the season.

Hunter Pence is a finalist to make the AL All-Star team in what has to be one of the best stories of the first half of this season.

Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman is not a fan of former Red Sox pitcher and current announcer Dennis Eckersley. After Stroman struck out Eduardo Núñez to end the 6th inning, he yelled and stared into the Red Sox dugout. Eckersley , who was calling the game for NESN, called Stroman’s celebrations “tired.”

After losing three straight to the Nationals, the Phillies were swept by the Marlins this weekend. Philadelphia is 1-9 over their last 10 games and riding a seven-game losing streak.

Commissioner Rob Manfred conceded that the baseball is different this year.

Sunday’s Three Stars

  1. J.P. Crawford – The Mariners shortstop was 4-for-4 with a home run and four RBI as Seattle smoked the Orioles 13-3.
  2. Fernando Tatis Jr. – The rookie Padres shortstop entered Sunday with an OPS+ of 150. But he makes this list because he scored on a “sacrifice fly” that barely left the infield.
  3. Yordan Alvarez – The Astros rookie was 2-for-5 with a big home run yesterday to help Houston defeat the Yankees, stopping baseball’s longest winning streak. Through 12 games with the big club, Alvarez is now slashing .333/.429/.813 with seven taters and 16 RBI.

On Deck

Extra Innings

I found the perfect gift for your backyard yesterday, and it is currently marked down from $295. I can neither confirm nor deny that the Red Sox front office gifted these babies to their players after knocking the Yankees out of last season’s playoffs.

They Said It

  • “[Alonso] is doing something amazing. He’s almost got 30 homers and we’ve still got two more weeks until the All-Star break. I like the way he’s playing the game and the way he’s hitting the ball.” – Javy Báez
  • “[Báez] was so frustrated [yesterday]. I said, ‘Bro, it’s good that you know that. Go up with another plan. Do your thing. You’re gonna win this ballgame.’”Pedro Strop
  • “I’ll knock you the [expletive] out, bro.”Jason Vargas
  • “There’s only one Albert Pujols. What a privilege it’s been these last three days in St. Louis.”Mike Trout

Monday Walk Up Song

Sugar Sugar by the Archies. Javy makes life so much sweeter for Cubs fans, doesn’t he? Vargas makes a great Jughead, too.

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