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Cub Tracks’ ups and downsides

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Walks, runs, falling off the edge, and other bullets

I knew he was safe. So did you
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

When asked about the Cubs up-and-down homestand Wednesday at Wrigley Field, outfielder Jason Heyward gave an interesting response.

“You guys go way too high and way too low,” he said. — Paul Sullivan.

Damn. The Cubs had too little, too late, the last time around. This time, they scored too little too early, with the dreaded red menace surfacing in the middle innings due to the bases on balls handed out by Tyler Chatwood.

“I’m putting myself in bad situations, and it’s hurting the team. There’s no reason for that fourth inning to happen there. Just throw the ball over the plate. It’s just me beating myself now and the team. I just have to fix that.” -- Tyler Chatwood

I hate walks. If Chatwood doesn’t issue bases on balls, Addison Russell doesn’t make an error, Kyle Schwarber doesn’t have to try to make a Jason Heyward-level catch, and the Cardinals have two less runs.

“He’s got a strong arm, we know that,” Maddon said of Schwarber. “The balls he’s been tracking down, the routes have gotten better and he’s more confident under the ball once he gets there. He’s not drifting. He’s doing a lot of things better.

”Part of it is he’s able to move better,” Maddon said of Schwarber, who wore a knee brace last season following surgery to repair two torn ligaments in 2016. “The arm’s always been there. That was a great throw last night. [Schwarber] was pretty deep. I think that’s why [third base coach Jose] Oquendo sent him. [Schwarber] is making a lot of progress.” — Carrie Muskat.

Schwarber made better catches later, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo hit ‘em out in the late innings, and then ouch. Brandon Morrow did the inevitable. I could do with a little less drama sometimes — it’s axiomatic that this is a better and more consistent club than they’ve shown so far. They just haven’t yet found their idiom.

“You’ve just got to keep fighting through it,” manager Joe Maddon said of a scoring slump that reached nine consecutive games with three or fewer runs, with the Cubs failing to score at all until the ninth inning (Friday). “You believe in your guys. You know they’re going to hit.”

That game shouldn’t have slipped away like that. Ugh. Baseball happens. The Cubs can get them to Morrow tomorrow.

See Al’s recap for more details. As always * means autoplay on (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Cubs news and notes:

“It looked like he may have blown out his shoelaces,” Maddon said. “I’ve had that happen. It looked like it was spread open, and he couldn’t put them back on. I think he popped the laces.”

Schwarber wasn’t available for comment after the game. Maddon was grateful he finished the play.

The manager was asked if he had ever seen that happen.

”In high school football, but I haven’t seen in baseball,” he said. — Jesse Rogers.

Joe Maddon was asked about his young players not taking more walks. Albert Almora and Javier Baez are stuck on 6 for the season with just 2 of those being unintentional for Baez: “Why do scorpions bite? It’s their nature. Why do young guys like that swing? Because it’s their nature. How do you change that? You have to talk, talk, talk, talk, talk...they can get better but in the meantime you have to be patient.

Put it on the board:

Miles Mikolas (4-0), who signed with the Cards after the Cubs backed off their pursuit said: “Guess they thought it would be more fun facing me.”

“A lot of Cubs fans came out. I’m glad we could piss them off today. Cardinals Nation, let’s go baby.” — Kolten Wong.

  • Dayn Perry (CBS Sports*): Yadier Molina took a foul ball in the worst possible place and the Cardinals got a costly walk-off win vs. rival Cubs. “Yep, the rivalry is alive and well.”
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): BBs, errors costly as Cubs fall to Cards in 10th. “I was leaving the ball up a little bit and trying to fight it down the whole time,” said Morrow.
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): 30 games in, the Cubs are breaking down in all phases. “What can you count on tomorrow?”
  • Tony Andracki (NBC Sports Chicago*): Tough losses adding up for Cubs: ‘We’re not playing our best baseball right now’. “...there’s a lot of season left and a lot of time for us to get on the right track and I think we will,” Chatwood said.
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): Cubs pitching still trying to find the strike zone. “There is no reason for that fourth inning to happen right there,” a frustrated Chatwood said.
  • Daniel Kramer (MLB.com): ‘Cartoonishly good’: Chatwood’s stuff is evolving. “Being able to get back there and catch him and see what his stuff does and just give him my input if I was hitting here or [discuss] the action of a pitch that we really want, I think that it’s really good,” Schwarber said. “Because the guy’s got all plus stuff.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Defensive lapses continue to plague Cubs in loss to Cardinals. “We hold ourselves to a high standard defensively,” Maddon said. “And when we make a mistake, it jumps at you.”
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): No longer Team Launch Angle, are Cubs overcorrecting or about to take offense to next level? “Nobody’s made any changes,” Maddon insisted.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Schwarber falls, makes catch, replaces shoe. “Schwarber vindicated his offseason program by being able to fall down and get up,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s all the burpees he did in the offseason were demonstrated right there.”

Food for thought:

  • Carolyn Gramling (Science News): This ancient fowl bit like a dinosaur and pecked like a bird. “I. dispar holds a special place because it was for the longest time one of the only known toothed birds,” says Lawrence Witmer, a vertebrate paleontologist at Ohio University in Athens.
  • Carly Casella (Science Alert): Flat-Earthers think you can’t fall off the edge because we live in a Pac-Man world. “Oh yeah, and gravity doesn’t exist.”**
  • Emily Conover (Science News): Neutron stars shed neutrinos to cool down quickly. “The process removes heat ‘the way the casino removes money from tourists’ pockets’.”

** Reader-recommended. MN Exile, take a bow.

Thanks for reading.