Be honest. You had your head down, thinking sad thoughts about this weekend’s series and the Cubs’ horrendous inability to score or even take advantage of scoring situations.
And then Kyle Schwarber did what Kyle Schwarber does best [VIDEO].
Repeat after me: That ball was crushed!
The White Sox got on the board first, on ... what else? ... a home run by Jose Abreu. The Sox slugger hit his 11th, his sixth of the series, and that made four consecutive at-bats with home runs for Abreu. Fortunately, the Cubs pitching staff held him down for the rest of the afternoon.
Now I’m going to open the complaint department door.
The Cubs ran themselves out of a scoring opportunity in the fourth inning. Anthony Rizzo singled and Schwarber doubled him to third.
All right, I’m a Cubs fan, I’m supposed to think Rizzo is safe. It wasn’t a bad call to make that a contact play, run on contact down 1-0 in the fourth. But it sure looked like the original “safe” call was correct, or at least there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn.
The Sox challenged the play and indeed, it was overturned. Does this look like enough evidence to overturn?
Nope, doesn’t to me, either. And the umpires took a tremendous amount of time to decide. The whole point of doing these is to get definitive evidence one way or the other — if not, it’s “call stands.” What I would propose is that if the replay folks in New York can’t definitively determine what happened in 90 seconds, it should be “call stands,” rather than looking for the edge of a glove on a pant leg, or a hand momentarily off a base, etc.
That wasn’t the worst thing that happened on the basepaths for the Cubs that inning.
This was: Willson Contreras reached on the Rizzo play at the plate. With two out, he somehow decided that would be a good time to take off for second base when a ball briefly bounced away from Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal. It wasn’t; Contreras was thrown out easily.
The Cubs simply have to admit that they’re not a good running team. Even Ian Happ, the team’s fastest baserunner, wasn’t able to beat a double-play relay in the next inning (oh, and I’ll get to that, too). The Cubs have nine stolen-base attempts this year and have been safe on only five of them. No Cub has more than one steal. That’s just... bad. They should just stop trying to steal bases, period.
About Happ’s double-play ball, it came in the fifth inning after the Cubs had loaded the bases with nobody out on two walks and a throwing error. Jason Kipnis had a really poor at-bat:
Kipnis looked at pitch 4, a hanging slider, and then swung and missed at pitch 5, which was out of the zone. Ugh. Then Happ hit into the double play.
Now the complaint department is closed... except to mention that Javier Baez, despite his double in this game, still looks completely lost at the plate. It wouldn’t hurt to drop him from third to (say) seventh in the lineup until he gets untracked.
As noted at the beginning of this recap, Schwarber turned things around in the sixth and gave the Cubs the lead.
Darvish, apart from the Abreu home run, was dealing all day. He allowed just five other hits and a walk, and struck out 10, including four of the last five he faced. I mean, just look at this:
Yu Darvish, Ridiculous 85mph Slider...part deux.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 23, 2020
9th K pic.twitter.com/OD0VkdKJCF
You wanted an ace with Darvish’s signing? You got one.
Craig Kimbrel was slotted into the eighth-inning setup role and struck out the first two men he faced. That’s good! Then he issued two walks. That’s not good! Fortunately, Jeremy Jeffress relieved Kimbrel and got Eloy Jimenez to fly to center to end the inning.
Then Jeffress decided to make things exciting in the ninth. He got the first two outs easily, then allowed a dribbly infield single to Nomar Mazara. Jeffress then walked the bases loaded before getting Yoan Moncada to ground out to end things on a positive note.
So the Cubs complete a not-so-successful 5-7 homestand on an up note by defeating the White Sox. You know, it’s been a hallmark of Cubs teams ever since Joe Maddon took over in 2015, that they have a stretch of the season where they just can’t seem to hit anything. It even happened in the World Series year of 2016. You surely remember that 5-15 stretch that year in late June and early July. But they always come out of it. Always. The Cubs got outscored 18-7 by the White Sox and still won one of the three games. Hopefully, the offense gets rolling beginning Monday in Detroit.
Which is the Cubs’ next stop. They’ll open a three-game set with the Tigers Monday evening. Alec Mills will take the mound for the Cubs and Casey Mize, who was the overall No. 1 draft pick by the Tigers in 2018, will start for Detroit. Game time Monday is 6:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network. There will also be a full national broadcast (no blackouts) on FS1.