Chicago Cubs’ weekly recap: Javier Baez debuts

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As the Cubs returned home, there must have been a memo sent out that the front office felt the fans needed more than the standard nine inning game. So the Cubs and Rays churned out two extra-inning affairs, giving the Cubs six in their last 12 games.

In the opener, the Cubs needed a late run in the ninth to push the game into extra innings. Manager Rick Renteria called upon Rondon to hold the Rays, and once again in a non-save situation he struggled. This time the hits were square, and the Rays would push across the winning run in the 10th. Maybe we start going to John Baker in that spot? I don’t know, just a thought.

Game two saw Edwin Jackson put up a quality start, but only by the definition. Six innings,  four runs, only three earned didn’t feel very quality. But Rays starter Jake Odorizzi, as well as the two relievers, had the Cubs guessing all game as they struck out 15 combined Chicago batters. I can verify that the old adage you can’t win if you don’t score is true. Refer to this game for proof.

The swing-and-miss mentality stuck with the Cubs all weekend, as Rays pitchers combined for 44 strikeouts, setting a Cubs team record for most in a series. After Travis Wood gave another quality start, only to not factor in the decision, the Cubs bullpen came to the rescue. Five pitchers combined for 5 1/3 innings of shutout baseball, giving the Cubs a chance for some more 12th inning heroics. Baez was involved, but not quite the same way this game. A Ryan Sweeney lead off single, followed by a Coghlan sacrifice bunt set the stage. But Baez swung and missed at a bad pitch, so bad it skipped away and he took first on the whiff while Sweeney moved to third.

Anthony Rizzo then struck a deep single for the game-winner as the Cubs avoided the sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays. The win capped off a long week of baseball for the Cubs, including three extra-inning contests.

Cubs Players of the Week

Chris Coghlan – I bet you were sure I’d have Baez here, right? Almost did. But Coghlan deserves the nod here. He’s had a stretch over the last month where he’s hitting as good as anyone on the senior circuit. He’s raised his average to around .300, he’s taking walks in the lead-off spot, and coming up with clutch hits like he did today. Add to that he’s now likely our best overall defensive outfielder and I can’t overlook him here. Baez get’s the very close runner-up.

Kyle Hendricks – After a rough debut, in which he started shaky but leveled off, Hendricks has been a model of consistency. Four consecutive quality starts, including three he went seven innings or more. Pitch count was the only thing that kept him from going the distance in his last outing against the Rockies. The young man is a beacon of hope on the pitching side of the organization, which isn’t as flush with talent as positional players.

I always watch the Cubs. And I always have. Probably more intensely now because I write about them. But this week was fun. The call-up of Baez intrigued me to the point I didn’t want to miss an at-bat. Then Hendricks is pitching at a high level, and I can’t help but get excited. The Cubs’ front office is cutting dead weight, preparing for the future. Once September call-ups come, we’re going to start to get a look at what will be the Cubs team of the future.

Post Baez call-up the Cubs are now 3-3. One player can’t change a season, but I really feel like that roster move was the shot heard round Cubs nation. We’ll keep an eye on it and see where we go from here.

Go Cubs Go.