This is why stats geeks wake up in the morning. This is better than a hard on and a willing supermodel for them. It’s even better than coffee.
All aquiver? Good. Here you go; the Cubs are 12-4 since calling up Rizzo. If they maintain this pace they will finish the season with 90 wins.
Which would put them in the playoffs. Which would win me beer. Which would mean that real Cubs’ fans would need to be sedated.
It would also mean that Dale Sveum could conduct human sacrifices between innings and no one would blink.
And, bonus, it would give me something fun to write about.
“Yesterday, in the Northside homage to the Great God Baal, manager Dale Sveum sacrificed three Cardinal fans and four tourists from Iowa. Rumor has it that tomorrow’s double header will feature ....”
Cash Kruth, yes that is his real name, was at Wrigley and watched as the Cubs swept the D-Backs.
No, I am not drinking. They really did sweep them.
The strong starting pitching performances and double plays just keep coming for the Cubs.
So, too, do the wins.
Right-hander Matt Garza tossed seven shutout innings and second baseman Darwin Barney homered as the Cubs completed a three-game sweep of the D-backs with a 3-1 win on Sunday at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs have won a season-high-tying four straight, and 12 of their last 16. Sunday’s victory also was Chicago’s sixth straight at Wrigley Field, the team’s longest winning streak at the Friendly Confines since June 18-July 3, 2009.
The Cubs’ sweep of the D-backs was its first over Arizona at Wrigley since May 9-11, 2008.
“Things weren’t really falling our way early; we weren’t really making it happen, either, but as of late we’re playing good baseball,” Barney said. “Playing really good on the defensive side, especially, and when you have starting pitching like we have lately, it’s easy to win ballgames that way.”
Garza (5-7, 4.02 ERA) scattered five hits, walked one and struck out seven. It was the right-hander’s 18th consecutive start at Wrigley Field in which he allowed three or fewer earned runs, a streak that dates back to June 27 of last year. Garza is 7-4 with a 1.97 ERA in that stretch, the longest by a Cubs starter since Kerry Wood twirled 22 consecutive such outings from July 7, 2000-April 20, 2002.
“You’ve got to give credit to Garza today, he did a good job, pitched pretty well,” D-backs catcher Miguel Montero said. “Still, we’ve got to put some runs on the board and we haven’t been able to do that.”
Garza’s effort was the latest by a Chicago rotation that has a 1.13 ERA in the last five games. The bullpen has given up only two runs in its last 12 innings, one of which was a solo homer by D-backs second baseman Aaron Hill in the eighth off right-hander Shawn Camp.
The Cubs also held the D-backs scoreless for 19 consecutive innings in the series before Hill’s blast, and Garza admitted keeping the solid pitching going served as motivation.
“You don’t want to be that guy,” Garza said. “So you just keep going and keep pounding and keep pounding strikes.”
Garza was helped by a defense that has committed only three errors in the past 14 games while turning a healthy amount of double plays.
Cubs pitching induced one double-play grounder Sunday—this one of the 5-4-3 variety to end the fifth inning—to extend the team’s streak of turning at least one double play to 10 straight games.
Barney, who was in the middle of that fifth-inning DP, provided most of Sunday’s offense, as well, hitting a two-run home run in the second inning off D-backs starter Trevor Cahill (7-8, 3.71 ERA).
The homer was Barney’s fourth of the season.
The Cubs’ hot play comes on the heels of the callup of first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who drove in the game’s first run with an RBI single in the first and has hit safely in 13 of his 15 games. Garza and Barney listed Rizzo’s callup as a key to Chicago’s strong stretch.
“We brought up a kid who’s real exciting. Real exciting,” Garza said. “And just his presence in the lineup, you guys can see what happens. You put pressure on the other team and pitchers have to come up and make big pitches. His energy and just his youth just kind of kicked people in gear, and it’s awesome.”
The Cubs’ recent run also comes at a time when there are sure to be changes to the roster. The July 31 non-wavier Trade Deadline is closing in fast, and Chicago has a host of players who are drawing interest, including Garza.
Garza, however, said he doesn’t pay attention to the rumor mill, saying, “No, I’ve got a wife who’s due in about 23 days, so the rumor mill can wait.”
Cubs manager Dale Sveum admitted it’s tough to think about losing key guys like Garza and fellow right-hander Ryan Dempster, especially with the club playing well.
“You think about that a lot. You don’t dwell on it,” Sveum said. “Just to be having a streak like this and winning a lot of ballgames is something. You don’t want to lose pieces to that puzzle.”
Since Garza’s kid won’t pop until after the trade deadline I don’t know why he’s so focused on that.
Well, okay, maybe I do.
On the Southside MLB sent the world renowned blogger, Vinnie Duber (WHO?), to Kauffman Stadium which is the land where bad things happen to the White Sox. Yesterday was no different. Gavin Floyd went down without even touching a baseball and Chris Sale forgot how to throw a breaking ball.
And yet, some how, some way, they pulled another “W” out of their posteriors.
White Sox starter Chris Sale was successful yet again on familiar ground.
Just days removed from appearing in the All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium—where he threw a scoreless inning against the National League—Sale tossed eight solid innings on Sunday to help the White Sox earn a 2-1 victory over the Royals in the rubber game.
Sale and catcher A.J. Pierzynski were quick to say it wasn’t the lefty’s best day in his All-Star season. Sale allowed a season-high 10 hits, but he gave up just one run—the ninth time this season he’s held an opponent to one run or fewer in a start.
“He definitely didn’t have his best stuff today,” Pierzynski said. “But at the same time, he battled and got a lot of ground balls when we needed them. Got a couple strikeouts when we needed them. He made pitches when he had to. Other than that, it was a fight the whole day. They have a good team. They can hit.”
For all of the hits, Sale only ran into a couple of jams. The most threatening in the bottom of the eighth.
Sale had already thrown 105 pitches heading into the frame, and he allowed back-to-back singles to Alcides Escobar and Billy Butler to start it. But after coaxing a flyout from Lorenzo Cain, Sale started an inning-ending double play by fielding Yuniesky Betancourt’s comebacker.
“I don’t think I wanted to get out of an inning more than that one,” Sale said. “Being in the situation I was then, the adrenaline was flowing, and I was hyped up. I got out of it and I knew [closer Addison Reed] was coming in. So, what’s not to be excited about?”
The start was Sale’s first in almost two weeks. His previous outing was on July 3 against the Rangers before appearing in Tuesday’s All-Star Game.
“They can hit,” said Sale, now 11-2 on the season. “Game would have been a heck of a lot different without the defense making some great plays, unbelievable plays. Some balls that were hit real hard, they got tracked down and hit right at guys.”
Sale didn’t need that much run support, which was good news for a White Sox offense that struggled to get hits off Royals starter Luis Mendoza. The righty went 7 1/3 innings, allowing just two runs on four hits.
Adam Dunn homered for the third straight game—his 28th of the season and 393rd overall—with his line-drive bullet in the first inning off Mendoza. It’s the second time this season that Dunn homered in three consecutive contests. He also did it June 9-12 against the Astros and Cardinals.
“[At] 2-0, I was kind of geared up for a fastball and it was a changeup, and I caught it out in front,” Dunn said. “I don’t hit many of those line-drive homers, so I think it was just because I was out in front of it a little bit.”
The White Sox scored again in the second inning, which started out looking like it would be a big frame. After Alex Rios singled and Pierzynski was hit by a pitch, Dayan Viciedo reached on an infield single to load the bases with none out.
The next hitter, Alexei Ramirez, bounced a sharp grounder down to third, but Mike Moustakas stopped it with a diving play, tagging third base while still on the ground and firing to first to complete the double play. Rios scored on the play, but a potential rally was halted by Moustakas’ defensive gem. Gordon Beckham lined softly to second one batter later to end the inning.
“The first two innings I gave up two runs and I just tried to settle down,” Mendoza said. “They’ve got a good lineup with good power and I just tried to make my pitches.”
Dunn, who also drew a pair of walks, commented on how tough the Mendoza can be.
“Today he was off his game a little bit, but still we only got two runs,” Dunn said. “I like him. I like what he does out there. He sinks the ball, cuts the ball, and he’s got a good little slider and a good changeup. We were able to work him and get on base with some walks and scratch out a couple.”
The Royals scored their lone run against Sale in the fifth inning on an RBI single from former White Sox infielder Chris Getz. It could have been worse, as the Royals had runners at the corners with one out, but Sale struck out Escobar and got a ground ball from Butler to end the threat.
The ninth was also a bit of an adventure for Reed. He allowed a two-out single to Salvador Perez, and after pinch-runner Jason Bourgeois stole second as the potential tying run, Reed retired Getz on a grounder for the final out and his 14th save.
The White Sox won their third straight series and their first at Kauffman Stadium since May 2009.
“We were talking about that. We were like, ‘Man that seems like a long time.’ Then when you thought about it, and I watched in the ninth inning, all their highlight videos are of them walking us off. Seems about right,” Pierzynski said. “It was a big win after the All-Star break, the first game, then the way yesterday’s game went, then today, it was just a good win, a good team win.”
This is the first time in Adam Dunn’s career that he’s ever been on a first place team. And, while he lauded the Sox’ experience, the team currently has 11 rookies on the roster and may have to call up another to take the place of Floyd for a bit.
Something tells me that something has to give. Eventually they’ll need a vet or two.
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