Oh good, another one of these.
Joe Maddon decided to keep Kris Bryant out of the starting lineup for today’s finale against the Brewers after KB endured an 0-for-15 slump over the past four games. This has been one of Maddon’s favorite methods of lineup management with the idea being that Bryant has more time to focus on the message: “Hey, remember literally every other week of your career? Do that.”
Some would probably advocate that Bryant use this extra time to watch clips of games when he was going well in order to get back to that frame of mind. Except if you were to edit together a montage of every good at bat he’s had in the major leagues, the running time alone would qualify it as a Ken Burns film.
Which would then mean that Bryant would probably have to get advice from baseball’s most renowned hitting guru: George F. Will.
CHILI DAVIS: Kris, what did you learn from your video study?
KRIS BRYANT: That I should be like Achilles emerging on the battlefields of Troy…?
Sensing that their MVP third baseman needed some sympathy in his hour of need, the rest of the lineup decided to join him and also took the day off.
What You Need to Know: Mike Montgomery was once again outstanding, giving up a measly two hits, including a solo home run, over six incredibly solid innings. That’s four times in four starts where the World Series Hero has allowed one or fewer runs. And there’s only one number in baseball that’s less than one and it’s a very good one to associate with a starting pitcher.
By the time Montgomery takes the mound during the next homestand, someone is going to have to teach Gary Pressy the chords for “Hate to Say I Told You So.” It’ll be a little difficult since that song dropped after 1982, never Pressy’s strong suit, but as Monty’s performance in Game 7 taught us, great things can happen to those who believe.
Montgomery pitched around a few baserunners and had to work around a Chris Gimenez throwing error on a dropped third strike (had that been Willson Contreras, we’d still be observing a moment of silence for some poor schmuck from Racine in the front row). But once the game hit the fourth inning, he was pretty much dominant until he had to be removed for a pinch hitter after six.
Financial Tip of the Day: If Montgomery goes back to the bullpen and Tyler Chatwood stays in the rotation when Yu Darvish comes off the disabled list, invest everything you’ve got in pitchfork futures.
As for the offense, well…
Next Level: As you’re well aware by this point, the Cubs are a nostalgic organization. Few teams in baseball like to celebrate their past as much as the beloved north side nine. And every month and a half or so, the current roster likes to get into the spirit by playing a week of deadball.
Cap Anson would be proud.
(Looks at right field, catcher, shortstop, and second base)
Well. No he wouldn’t.
In retrospect, the stretch of good baseball leading into this series was pretty reminiscent of the Cubs’ streak in early May where they somehow managed to win five games while scoring a grand total of two runs. (Note to editor: I’m pretty sure my math is correct on this.)
Since June 3, the Cubs have played games where they have scored: two, one, seven, four, three, two, one, seven, zero, and zero. And those two sevens were the result of the Jason Heyward walkoff grand slam and Monday’s five run eleventh-inning uprising.
Over that stretch, the Cubs’ record is 6-4. So while they’ve banked their share of games, it’s been almost entirely due to excellent pitching and defense. And unfortunately, it now feels like they’re entering a period where they stubbornly still refuse to score and things balance out a little bit on the negative side. Which, as you might recall from last month, led to a five-game losing streak where each game took a little bit more of your soul than the last.
What I’m saying is: this is not a good time to go to St. Louis.
(Today’s edition of “Next Level” is brought to you by the word “Evergreen.”)
Top Play (WPA): Jason Heyward’s walk in the fifth inning, advancing Ben Zobrist to second base (+.051). Honestly, you could tell me that this play never happened and I’d totally believe you.
Bottom Play (WPA): Montgomery’s one slip was falling behind Lorenzo Cain 3-1. Cain took what could only be called a Javyesque swing on a fastball and launched a home run to left field (-.114).
If only the Cubs could’ve convinced him to run back to first.
This game sucked. Let’s talk smack about the Brewers left fielder: Ryan Braun is what would happen if you taught a bottle of Axe body spray to swing a bat.
Up Next: A merciful off day precedes what we all hope will not be another edition of That Damn Busch Stadium Game. Jon Lester faces off against Michael Wacha on Friday.
Lead photo courtesy Benny Sieu—USA Today Sports