The Rundown: Nats Drop Lethargic Cubs, Hoerner Sees Glass Half-Full, Cards Lose Fifth Straight, Another Ohtani Milestone
“Must I forever be a beggar whose golden dreams will not come true? Or will I go from rags to riches? My fate is up to you.” – Tony Bennett, Rags to Riches
The Cubs are actually playing like they want Carter Hawkins to promote Matt Mervis and Christopher Morel. What a listless effort in D.C. yesterday. As Sean Holland wrote in his recap after the 2-1 loss, Marcus Stroman deserved better.
One of the things I’ve despised since the new age of Cubs baseball began back in 2011 is Chicago’s efforts when facing a pitcher for the first time. Does this team employ even one advance scout? Jake Irvin wasn’t anything special on Wednesday, but he may as well have been Sandy Koufax.
Day baseball today as the North Siders try to salvage what is now a 1-5 road trip against two very beatable teams.
If you need cheering up this morning, how about my favorite scene from one of my favorite movies?
Cubs News & Notes
- I mentioned yesterday that the Cubs are really struggling in close games. After yesterday’s loss, Chicago is 2-6 in one-run affairs.
- Many Cubs players, including Ian Happ, are growing frustrated with so many missed opportunities. Yes, that’s a nice way of saying the team would rather grip it and rip it than play station-to-station baseball.
- The Cubs are hoping to get their pitching and hitting in sync to escape the lethargy with which they’ve been playing lately.
- Cody Bellinger is playing MVP-caliber baseball, and his renaissance can largely be attributed to reducing strikeouts, hitting more line drives, and, of course, a dose of good luck.
- In a post by Patrick Mooney of The Athletic, Nico Hoerner sounds like a “glass half-full” guy ($), which is what you’d expect from a team leader.
- Catcher Yan Gomes has been placed on the seven-day injured list, and reliever Javier Assad was recalled to take his place on the roster.
- Jameson Taillon has been cleared to start this afternoon’s game against the Nationals.
- It sounds like reliever Michael Rucker has learned to use the force to help him find success this season. “I tell my wife it’s like the moment when you jump off a high-dive and you’re [in] the free fall before you hit the water. [It’s] like, ‘OK, here we go.'”
- The Cubs recently promoted stud starter Ben Brown to Triple-A Iowa. Get him to Chicago soon, please and thank you.
- The Cubs traded catcher Luis Torrens to the Orioles for cash considerations.
- Just Baseball dropped its first mock draft and projects the Cubs will select OF Enrique Bradfield Jr. of Vanderbilt.
- Of course, I’ve dug up one of Bradfield’s scouting reports.
The barbarians are at the gate! David Ross has really made some puzzling decisions this year, and I think Joe Maddon might have tampered with Rossy’s analytics software when he was in town last week.
A DH bunting is absolutely ridiculous. Giving a manager DH options that one could even slightly reasonably consider bunting is malpractice. Ross decision = bad. Options given to Ross = embarrassing.
— Brad Robinson (@bradrobinson8) May 4, 2023
- St. Louis: The Dead Birds lost their fifth straight game, they’re 10-21 and tied with the surging White Sox for the second-worst record in baseball, and manager Oliver Marmol is taking much more shrapnel than Rossy.
- Milwaukee: The Rockies beat the Brewers 7-1 yesterday as Kris Bryant hit a majestic home run off of Hoby Milner. But the loss, the name “Hoby,” and Bryant’s mammoth shot pale in comparison to Colorado’s magnificent threads.
- Cincinnati: It’s not 1919, but the lowly Reds and the bottom-feeding White Sox kick off a three-game series this weekend, and I’m guaranteeing that Billy Hamilton will be a factor.
- Pittsburgh: The Rays brought the Pirates back into the earth’s stratosphere this week.
Climbing the Ladder
“You hear them moaning their lives away, and then you hear somebody say…” – Sam Cooke, Chain Gang
I still cannot fathom having Eric Hosmer bunting in the top of the 9th. Ross isn’t doing the veteran any favors, and he’s also putting undo pressure on Mervis if/when he gets the call. I’ve got nothing else this morning. I’m okay with leaving Mervis at Iowa if Ross is going to continue to small-ball the Cubs into defeat.
Chicago’s team batting average has dropped eight points in the three games against the 12-18 Nationals. That’s pathetic. Maybe I actually shouldn’t blame Ross for bunting.
- Games Played: 30
- Record: 15-15 (.500)
- Total Plate Appearances: 1162
- Total Strikeouts: 248
- Strikeout Rate: 21.34%
- Team Batting Average: .272
- Runs Scored: 153
- Runs Allowed: 110
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 53.6%, 1.5% to win the World Series
How About That!
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is looking to raise $25 million for a new facility in Kansas City, MO.
An orphan in Uganda is using the social platform Tik Tok to raise awareness of his quest to one day be an MLB player.
I mentioned A’s rookie Mason Miller last week as a potential future ace, and Tuesday night he was pulled after 100 pitches despite no-hitting the Mariners.
Orlando would like its own baseball team in the next expansion, but why can’t we put a franchise in Brooklyn rather than a third in a state that hardly supports two?
Shohei Ohtani has joined Babe Ruth in the 500-strikeout, 100-home run club.
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Christian Walker – Two taters and five RBI is a great night at the office for the D-Backs’ first baseman, and it’s at least worthy of a Chunky Soup commercial.
- Eric Haase – The Tigers’ DH wasn’t asked to bunt yesterday, but he did go 2-for-5 with a home run and five RBI. It”s hard to believe, but Javier Báez hit his first home run of the year in the same game.
- Marcell Ozuna, Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, Michael Harris II, and Ronald Acuña Jr. – The Braves quintet accounted for six home runs and every RBI in Atlanta’s 14-6 win over the Marlins.
I don’t mind this play by Wander Franco. Frankly, baseball is supposed to be a fun game and it’s also played by adults who never really had to grow up. Let the kids play, yes? Baseball shouldn’t cater to its prime (read: oldest) demographic or it will fall to extinction, Bob Costas be damned.
I’m all about having fun playing a kids game, but yea, I don’t like this at all from Wander Franco pic.twitter.com/c1wtWH88hi
— BaseballHistoryNut (@nut_history) May 4, 2023
Thursday Morning Six-Pack
- Good morning, and May the Fourth be with you! Today, we’ll find out which coffee shops are the real ones that offer glow-in-the-dark scones and bubbling lattes. Perhaps we should call the Cubs’ upcoming homestand A New Hope, but when Chicago plays St. Louis, let’s hope it’s not the Revenge of the Sith. I could go all day.
- At the end of Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi, the Galactic banking system was on the brink of failure. A $419 quintillion government project, the second Death Star, had just been destroyed by the Rebel Alliance, and the Galactic economy was set to enter a deep, deep depression. Does that remind you of anything happening in national current events?
- The trillion-dollar coin is a thing again, and I’d like one as a late birthday present if you’re feeling philanthropic today. Or, we could restore the Galactic Empire for the greater good of all mankind. James Earl Jones would be proud of you.
- It’s not Pizza “the” Hut-level deliciousness, but astronomers watched a star eat a planet yesterday. Fear not, in space, no one can hear you scream. Those learned scientist dudes said the same thing will probably happen to Earth one day, so plan accordingly, and get your affairs in order.
- You probably forgot to curate your May the Fourth playlist, but don’t worry. There’s a playlist for every occasion, somewhere, and the fine folks over at Inside the Magic have you covered today.
- In what is surely a sign that the Apocalypse is nigh, Olive Garden has agreed to buy the Ruth’s Chris steakhouse chain. Breadsticks and bottomless salads, anyone?
They Said It
- “Each season has such a different narrative, whether it’s lockout or COVID or everyone’s traded. Those things were recent but so far away in a lot of ways. This season is exciting because the expectation for the team is a little unknown, and I think that’s an awesome thing in that it’s up to us to establish that. We’re [at] .500, but it feels like we could be in a much better spot than that.” – Hoerner
- “From a 30,000-foot perspective, there are a lot of positives. If you go back to spring training, you’d take these positives to start. But having been through it — with some of the close games that we’ve lost and things like that — I do feel like there’s a lot more there. That’s a nice, healthy combination. I try to not get too caught up in the result every day. But at the same time, it’s understanding that it is a wins-and-losses league, right?” – Hoerner
Thursday Walk-Up Song
Full Otis, by Otis, and a fantastic video. Child, please.