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Cub Tracks goes fourth

First impressions, demoting Lackey, Maxwell’s demon, and other bullets

Chicago Cubs v Atlanta Braves
Willy or won’t he?
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Cubs Win!

"I can hear millions of Cubs fans breathing a collective sigh of relief." — Pat Hughes

After meatloaf™ and taters comes sweeploaf™ and gravy, and that’s what the Cubs dined on while heading to Atlanta for a three-game set. The bats were late in arriving, and in the end the extra eighth-inning run was needed, but the Cubbies came out on top and look for southern-style meatloaf in the middle game of the series today.

Optimism is back in style -- ketchup on this and other news as we dig in to the blue web™. We even have a rare Rick Morrissey appearance on this page. As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in Baseball History:

  • 1882 - Ambidextrous pitcher Tony Mullane of Louisville pitched with both hands in a Major League game at Baltimore. Normally a right-hander, Mullane switched to the left hand in the fourth inning. He eventually lost 9-8.
  • 1912 - The Chicago Cubs had twenty-one hits in eleven innings but still lost to the Philadelphia Phillies when Gabby Cravath stole home.
  • 1948 - After the first two Cubs get on base in the bottom of the ninth inning at Wrigley Field, Phillies rookie right-hander Robin Roberts appears to pitch out of trouble by getting the next two batters out. The 21-year-old hurler and future Hall-of-Famer, however, proceeds to hit the next two consecutive batters, Phil Cavarretta and Andy Pafko, with pitches, giving Chicago a 3-2 walk-off victory.
  • 1961 - In consecutive doubleheaders played at Busch Stadium, Cardinal first baseman Bill White ties Ty Cobb's 49-year-old record by collecting 14 hits in four games when he goes 3-for-4 in both games of the sweep over the Cubs. The future NL president started the streak, ironically, on the day the Georgia Peach died, going 8-for-10 in the previous day's twin bill, which was also played against Chicago.
  • 2000 - Johnny Damon collects a career-high five hits in Kansas City's 12-4 rout of the Cubs. The Royals outfielder's Kauffman Stadium performance includes four doubles, tying a major league mark.

Cubs News and Notes:

Industry source™. MmmHmm. Tell me more. Put on some bacon while you’re at it, please.

‘I’ll never say never on a move, but this smells like one of those leverage ploys that are so common in trade season. The Dodgers have been said to like Britton as a setup man to Kenley Jansen — which means you’d better not be trailing them heading into the 8th — and the Yankees have experienced some struggles with Dellin Betances and that guy the Cubs rented and broke last year.” — Evan Altman, Cubs Insider.

“So not only do the Cardinals (and the Brewers) face a surprising opportunity this season, thanks to the Cubs’ swoon, it’s possible it’ll be the last such opportunity they face in a long, long time. The NL Central looks like it’s about to get very difficult for non-Chicago teams. And so while the Cardinals might not ordinarily want to go all-in on overtaking both the Cubs and the Brewers over the next two months, waiting for a better opportunity doesn’t sound like a viable alternative. — Henry Druschel

  • The Players’ Tribune: David Ortiz and Anthony Rizzo on the 2016 World Series [VIDEO].
  • Grant Brisbee (SB Nation): The Nationals, Dodgers, and Cubs were all preseason favorites, and they’re all in very different spots now. “The Cubs have been hovering around .500 so consistently since the very beginning of the season, it’ll be wildly inappropriate to use the term “hovering around .500” for any team over the next decade.”
  • Dan Szymborski (ESPN Insider {$}): Whose stretch schedule will keep playoff races tight? Szymborski likes the Cubs’ chances. Make me wrong!
  • John Balletta (The Sports Quotient): The Chicago Cubs made a great trade for next year. Not so awful for this year, either.
  • Ryan Davis (FanRag Sports): Jose Quintana’s debut set the bar high with the Cubs. “All things considered, it was a nice first impression.”
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Jon Lester and Jose Quintana give Cubs a one-two punch for this pennant race and beyond. “There are some similarities in their delivery, their effort levels and how clean their arms work,” Theo Epstein said.
  • Ryan Schultz (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): What you’re getting in Jose Quintana. “Essentially, he’s just an easy baseball player to love.”
  • Jim Margalus (South Side Sox): Jose Quintana twists the knife. “First comments, start with Cubs reflect state of White Sox.”
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Cubs reportedly explored other starters before landing Jose Quintana: Chris Archer, Marcus Stroman, Gerrit Cole, Michael Fulmer, Sonny Gray. Reporting on Peter Gammons report. Taylor also reports about Zach Britton rumors. Hoo boy.
  • Ryan Posner (FanRag Sports): Kyle Hendricks throws five perfect innings in rehab start. Hendricks seems set to rejoin the rotation soon.
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Will John Lackey be pitching for his job in new-look Cubs rotation? “I believe he’s going to have a really good second half™,” Maddon said.
  • Rick Morrissey (Chicago Sun-Times*): How to demote John Lackey without getting killed. ‘‘Just to try to take him out of a game — and then try to tell him something like that?’’ Maddon said. ‘‘My God. Exponentially worse.’’
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Willson Contreras sees Cubs playing with fire again: ‘We are back’. Nanker Phelge approves this message. “We keep battling every pitch, no matter what the score is. It feels good when you start hitting like that,” Contreras said.
  • Brendan Miller (Cubs Insider): A change in Willson Contreras’ swing has him looking like another Venezuelan slugger. “...he’s adopted a miniature toe-tap and crouch thing when the pitcher gears back.” A la Miguel Cabrera.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): How hard can Cubs lean on catcher Contreras without veteran backup? “Without running him into the ground. I’m looking to guard against fatigue,” said Joe Maddon.
  • Jaylon Thompson ( Maddon: Jason Heyward 'as good as I've seen him'. "He is looking really good right now, and is as good as I've seen him swing the bat, personally," Maddon said.
  • Todd Johnson (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): With Eloy gone, does Jose Albertos take over the Top Prospect spot? “...five reasons why I think Jose should get the crown for the time being.”
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Heading to Triple-A Iowa, Dillon Maples could be X-factor for Cubs. 28 strikeouts in 13.2 innings at Double-A Tennessee. His slider is viewed as an 80.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs insist minor-league cupboard isn't bare after Jose Quintana trade. "...we have really talented players on the farm who we believe in and who are going to play for the Cubs," Epstein said.

Food for thought:

  1. Emily Conover (Science News): Scientists peek inside the mind of Maxwell’s demon. “Memory tests uphold the second law of thermodynamics...understanding how the rules translate to small scales could one day lead to designs for more efficient quantum machines.”
  2. Sid Perkins (Science) Why midsize animals are the fastest on Earth. “An elephant should run faster than a horse—at least in theory.”
  3. Ralph Mcelvery (Live Science): Citizen science project discovers new brown dwarf. “One night three months ago, Rosa Castro finished her dinner, opened her laptop, and uncovered a novel object that was neither planet nor star.”

Thanks for reading. Cub Tracks returns Thursday with more of whatever this is.