“It doesn’t have to be like this…”
The Cubs once again made it harder than it has to be. Or maybe the Brewers are scrapping just hard enough to get beat. Maybe it’s both. Either way, the Cubs and Brewers put on another tense, drama-filled slog involving 187 players and various decisions and calls that we could debate long into the night. It’s September baseball at its best, and its worst.
Let’s clean it all up if we can.
-I didn’t have a huge issue with pulling Lackey early. He didn’t have much, and Joe clearly wants to get this division to bed as quickly as possible (though thanks to the Cardinals and Pirates, he’s not going to be able to do that this weekend). Still, if you knew there was a chance that Lackey would be on a short leash, and there’s no guarantee that Maddon knew it but was just dealing with what he was seeing, using Duensing last night was curious. Montgomery was never going to be able to give you a multi-inning relief outing on two days’ rest. Whatever, Lackey might not like it, but clearly Maddon isn’t going to fuck around with him. Which probably means if Lester has even a pulse he’s going to get in the playoff rotation ahead of Lacks.
-Even though he buzzed through the lineup once, you got the feeling the Cubs would only need a second look at Brandon Woodruff before they would make things count. It came on the 4th, right on cue. Both Jay and Bryant in their second ABs got RBI hits. Woodruff has got great stuff but he’s going to need a little more variety when he’s up here full time next year.
-The 5th is where things start to get silly. Lackey is pulled, a clearly off-kilter Duensing gives up the lead thanks to Braun and Shaw. If you knew you wanted a lefty there, and I don’t know if they did or didn’t and just thought Duensing was the only one who could go multi-innings, Montgomery might have been the better bet.
-At least Rondon looked good in his return from some elbow complaints. An on-song Rondon would be such a huge weapon in the playoffs, and actually make you think that the Cubs’ pen is enough to get through three rounds. But we’ll need a couple more outings like that before we get there from Hector.
-The 10th is where most of my complaints are housed. Martin came in on a double switch with Edwards. But he’s the one who was up with the bases loaded, and then Tommy La Stella pinch hit for Almora. Yes he got the walk, but let me ask you this: what combo is more likely to get that run home, La Stella and Almora or the way it went? Yeah, you know. I don’t know what Almora has to do but whatever it was he clearly missed his chance.
-But those were all washed away when Nerd Power slid over the base at second with one out in the 10th. That’s the kind of devil’s magic shit that used to happen to the Cubs, usually at the hand of the Cardinals. That “locked in” element I’ve been bitching about most of the season? THIS IS THAT KIND OF SHIT. That the Cubs are just paying more attention and just might get an out, hit, walk or something that they need to win a tight ballgame. It’s good to be the king.
-So that’s Carl’s Jr., Duensing, Monty, and Rondon down for tomorrow. Let’s just get our eight shutout innings from The Cerebral Assassin and be done with it.