I know it's only been three games into the season, but anytime the beloved are in first place, that is good news. It was a chippy series versus the Brewers this weekend as the Cubs were not happy with being hit several times over the three days. Add in the fact that with no crowd, players on both benches can hear everything being said by the other team and even with social distancing rules, boys will be boys.
Some brief takeaways from the opening series as the Cubs travel today to face the Reds, tonight, in the Covid capital of the Midwest, Cincinnati.
Kyle Hendricks on Friday was absolutely filthy. He never threw any pitch above 89 MPH and only one Brewer could hit him. Orlando Arcia was three for three against Hendricks while the rest of the Brewers went 0 for Friday. His ball had crazy movement, he hand masterful control of all pitches, and he pitched fast keeping his defense on its toes. A great start to the season, and if he continues like this he will be a finalist for a Cy Young.
It was a different story on Saturday for Yu Darvish, who continues to be the most overpaid Cubs in history, and there are plenty to choose from. He lasted only four innings, gave up six hits and three earned runs and his four innings lasted as long as Hendricks nine the night before. He is soooo slooooow. The bullpen didn't look much better either Saturday, another cause for concern, although they made a comeback Sunday.
Speaking of Sunday, Tyler Chatwood pitched a must game for himself as he lasted six innings, giving up only one earned run on three hits, struck out eight, and only walked two guys. A really solid outing for him. It was also interesting to see the difference in defense between Ian Happ and Albert Almora Sunday. Both made great catches but Almora didn't hurt himself like Happ did.
Here is the Happ grab: https://www.mlb.com/video/ian-happ-s-leaping-grab-at-wall
And here is the Almora version: https://www.mlb.com/video/albert-almora-jr-s-leaping-catch
Why the Cubs continue to run Ian Happ out there every game is beyond me. Albert Almora is twice as good defensively and, when left alone, not a bad hitter. I thought David Ross would be different but I guess it will be the same old same old for Almora.
Hey, guess what? MLB ballplayers can't read. The league has sent out multiple bulletins regarding behavior to avoid as Covid rules and yet this weekend we saw players spitting, hugging, high five-ing, and not being six feet apart without masks on the field, or on the bench. It's hard to believe this virus is running amok in baseball this weekend.
The other team in Chicago faced off against the best team in the Central, in the American League, the Minnesota Twins, and both teams said, "pitching? Who needs that?" All three games had the winning team in double digit runs as the boom sticks were working overtime on the Southside. The Sox went 1-2 but, man, what a fun team to watch. They have some large humans on that team and scoring runs will not be an issue this season.
Tomorrow I will be writing about the upcoming playoff series for the Blackhawks versus the Edmonton Oilers as NHL hockey resumes this week with the crazy playoffs beginning. John Markiewicz and I will try to make sense of what the hell is going on and give you our thoughts on the opening series. Watch this space.