“Hear me prowlin’, hear me growlin’.” – The Rolling Stones, Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’
The Cubs swept the Pirates to win four consecutive series and now they’re in London to play the Cardinals. If they take the two games at London Stadium, Chicago’s North Side Baseballers will return stateside playing .500 baseball. That seemed to be an improbability two weeks ago when the Cubs left California 10 games under .500 and 7.5 games behind Pittsburgh.
For those who didn’t make the trip to England, FOX will broadcast Saturday’s game at 12:10pm CT and ESPN will televise Sunday’s match at 9am CT. Derek Jeter will debut as a FOX Sports studio analyst on Saturday. The Cardinals will be the “home” team in both of the contests, though the Cubs will wear home whites in one of them.
The Cubs enter the series winners of 10 of their last 12 and still can’t keep pace with the white-hot Reds, who’ve won 12 straight. David Ross is throwing big guns Justin Steele and Marcus Stroman at St. Louis, who will counter with Adam Wainwright and Jack Flaherty.
Cubs News & Notes
- Ross changed his rotation to give Steele and Stroman the starts against St. Louis.
- The Cubs remain the only team in the NL Central with a positive run differential, including the Reds, who still sit at -14 with tough tests against the Orioles and Braves this week.
- The league is hoping the Cubs-Cardinals series will foster the growth of the sport throughout Europe.
- Here’s everything you need to know about the London series.
- The DraftKings Sportsbook at Wrigley Field is scheduled to officially open when the Cubs return from London.
- Members of the Cubs rotation have a new pregame routine and it could be the secret to their success.
- Miguel Amaya is proving to the organization that he deserves to be a big part of the team’s future.
- A new routine and some sage advice from Dansby Swanson are helping Christopher Morel become a more consistent hitter.
- Patrick Mooney of The Athletic says that Nico Hoerner has become the type of leader that Chicago’s clubhouse needs ($) as it transitions toward its next championship window.
- Hayden Wesneski and Patrick Wisdom took a shot at playing cricket at Wrigley Field before the team departed for Pittsburgh.
- Even without the high-slugging prowess of many other teams, the Cubs have enjoyed one of their best offensive stretches over the past 12 games.
- Ross has used a closer-by-committee for most of the season, but the skipper has been riding Adbert Alzolay in that role recently. The fireballing Alzolay has shoved in those high-leverage situations whenever he’s had his number called.
- Pat Hughes is a month shy from delivering his Hall of Fame speech and it’s already making him teary-eyed.
Odds & Sods
I wonder what Jed Hoyer doesn’t see in Stroman that the rest of us do.
- St. Louis: The Cardinals have an identity crisis and they hope to resolve it on their trip to London.
- Milwaukee: The Brewers are reportedly interested in trading for St. Louis outfielder Tyler O’Neill.
- Cincinnati: The Reds have won 12 consecutive games, their longest winning streak since 1957.
- Pittsburgh: The Pirates unveiled their City Connect uniforms, and they’re not bad.
Most teams decide right after the All-Star break whether they are buyers or sellers. Here’s a look at the upcoming schedule for the Cubs and their NL Central brethren leading up to the classic in Seattle next month.
- Reds (40-35): They host the Braves before traveling to Baltimore, then return home for a three-game set against the Padres. That’s followed by stops in Washington and Milwaukee.
- Brewers (38-36): They begin a three-city, 10-game road trip against the Guardians, Mets, and Pirates before hosting the Cubs and Reds.
- Cubs (36-38): The Cubs will host the Phillies and Guardians when they return from London followed by road games against the Brewers and Yankees.
- Pirates (34-39): They host the Padres and Brewers before heading west to play the Dodgers and Diamondbacks.
- Cardinals (31-44): They return from London to host Astros and Yankees and then hit the road for sets with the Marlins and White Sox.
Climbing the Ladder
“Happiness, more or less, it’s just a change in me, something in my liberty.” – The Verve, Lucky Man
I’m a big believer in the Pythagorean record, and Chicago’s is 40-34. The Cubs are now 6-0 against the Pirates, but they’re 3-8 against the rest of the NL Central. That makes the two games against the Redbirds much bigger. The balanced schedule makes intradivisional games a lot more meaningful.
Continuing to hit with runners in scoring position will go a long way toward beating St. Louis. The Cubs were 3-for-6 yesterday, and 8-for-25 in the series.
- Games Played: 74
- Record: 36-38 (.486)
- Total Plate Appearances: 2,828
- Total Strikeouts: 681
- Strikeout Rate: 24.08%
- Team Batting Average: .247
- Runs Scored: 338
- Runs Allowed: 312
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 60%, 3.3% to win the World Series
How About That!
MLB is being sued by 17 former scouts who said they were discriminated against because of age.
Rob Manfred said he regrets giving Astros players immunity in exchange for testimony during the 2017 sign-stealing scandal.
The A’s are preparing their MLB application to relocate from Oakland to Las Vegas, and if approved by at least 75% of league owners, the move will become official.
Nevada lawmakers signed off on the team’s request for $380 million in public funding last week as part of their efforts to construct a $1.5 billion stadium on the Vegas Strip.
This a friendly reminder that the Cubs are playing better baseball than the Mets, who spent $445 million on players this winter.
Apropos of Nothing
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Hoerner – The second baseman played shortstop yesterday, and in addition to his solid defense, he had a home run, a triple, and three RBI on a 2-for-5 day.
- Javier Báez– The former Cubs’ shortstop earned his 1,000th hit on a 2-for-4 day in the Tigers’ 9-3 win over the Royals.
- Ian Gibaut – The Reds reliever earned his eighth win of the season, and he has an excellent chance of catching MLB record holder Roy Face, who was 18-1 in 1959. Ron Perranoski holds the NL win record for relievers with 16 in 1963.
I never thought I’d say this, but Hoerner is one of the best second basemen in baseball. Truth be told, I prefer Chicago’s second-sacker over José Altuve, Ozzie Albies, and Jeff McNeil. I do like Marcus Semien and Luis Arráez, though.
NICO HOERNER OPPO HR!
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) June 21, 2023
Thursday Morning Six-Pack
- Finding survivors on the Titan, the submersible that went missing Sunday with five people on board as it journeyed toward the wreckage of the Titanic, is probably impossible at this point. The five-passenger mini-sub is out of oxygen though hope remains that the crew was able to conserve some of it.
- After discovering a major error in its accounting, the Pentagon realized it could send another $6.2 billion worth of weapons to Ukraine without having to ask Congress for more aid cash.
- The FTC filed a lawsuit against Amazon for violating consumer protection laws by deceiving its Prime members. Their “Iliad Flow” cancellation process, which requires at least six click-throughs by the consumer, is among the complaints against the behemoth online retailer.
- The city of Denver is hosting a psychedelics conference and the featured speakers include quarterback Aaron Rodgers, musician Melissa Etheridge, and John Mackey, the co-founder of Whole Foods. Former Texas governor Rick Perry will also be a keynote.
- Blood-red crickets have invaded Elko, NV, which has been described as a “biblical plague.” The critters have been causing chaos across the northern part of the state since they began hatching in May.
- Elton John once called his record company and demanded that they stop the wind blowing outside his London hotel suite.
They Said It
- “It’s just acknowledging positive things that are going on, especially when you’re in your early stages. We all want results, obviously, no matter what stage of your career you’re at. But trying to establish yourself at this level, it can be even harder to take positives like hitting a ball 110 [mph] right at somebody, or Miguel Amaya flying out to the track in deep center on a two-strike pitch off a tough lefty. Those things are really significant and don’t go unnoticed. It’s important for guys to feel seen and appreciated by what’s going on around them, and feel a part of it.” – Hoerner
- “It happens super fast, and I’m still figuring out everything, too. It’s all very closely related. I don’t see it as a veteran/younger guy relationship. It’s more something that’s very recent in my mind. I also know how impactful certain conversations I had [were], or even the small comments from my first couple months up or first couple years here. Those things can go a long way. It’s just kind of consistently being a source of positivity or whatever it needs that day.” – Hoerner
Thursday Walk-Up Song
I saw Counting Crows for the first time last night. The show was great.