People like to say baseball is “funny” due to it’s unpredictability. I sure wasn’t laughing on Thursday night when the Cubs managed 3 hits and put up a goose egg against the Padres. It dropped them into a tie with the non-Christian (Yelich) Brewers for the 2nd Wild Card spot. By the way, I hate all injuries – including Yelich’s busted kneecap. I’d rather beat Milwaukee at full strength. Of course, if we’re making wishes, I’d prioritize having Javy Baez back from his broken thumb. Last year’s 1-2 in the MVP vote are both done for the regular season as they make the final turn. Baez should’ve won the award over Yelich last year, but I digress. And I’d probably give Yelich my vote this year. Maybe.
Nico Hoerner is Javy’s replacement at shortstop ever since Addison Russell took a fastball to the face. Big glove to fill, kid. But he’s done it admirably. The first player from the 2018 draft class to reach the bigs has impressed with his defense and even more so at the plate. When the Cubs called up Hoerner from Double-A earlier this week, my buddy Mike X gave texted me a scouting report: Outstanding glove, unknown bat. Hoerner answered the call with 3 hits in his first game, including an RBI triple. He gets the bat on the ball and doesn’t strike out much. Something the Cubs need. In his first Wrigley Field at-bat, he launched a 411-foot home run into the centerfield bushes. The 2-run shot gave the Cubs a 5-4 bottom of the 1st lead after some offline Albert Almora throws mixed between Pirate hits aided a 4-run Pittsburgh top of the 1st against Jon Lester. Nico’s blast was the third Cubs homer of the inning, following godsend Nick Castellanos and All-Star Willson Contreras. Contreras would add another solo shot in the 3rd and Anthony Rizzo lined a granny, also in the 3rd. When the Pirates cut the lead to 10-7 in the 5th, it was the rookie Hoerner who stepped up again, chopping a high bouncer through the middle to plate 2 more runs. A bases-loaded double by Jason Heyward extended the lead even further and the bullpen kept the Pirates at bay for a 17-8 victory.
The Cardinals beat the Brewers, bad and good news. Cubs are 4 back of the Cards for the division but now 1 ahead of Milwaukee for the Wild Card. The Phillies are 2.5 back of the Cubs. The Nationals are 2.5 ahead of the Cubs for the top Wild Card spot.
Just keep winning and see what happens. We’ve got 7 left against St. Louis. I’m going to the Cubs/Cards game next Thursday. But plenty to do before then. Hendricks on the mound today vs. Pittsburgh. They’ve got a righty named James Marvel going who’s making his 2nd Major League start. All-Stars like Kris Bryant and Rizzo should be able to show a kid from Triple-A who’s boss. But you never know…baseball is funny.