* After three weeks on the disabled list with what MLB.com calls “an undisclosed stress-related issue” Joey Votto is back with the Reds
and in the starting lineup for tonight’s game against the Blue Jays.
Votto was hitting .357/.464/.627 with eight homers, 10 doubles, and 23
walks in 151 plate appearances before landing on the shelf and the Reds
went 8-13 without him.
* According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Ryan Howard is expected to play tonight
after his MLB-best streak of 343 straight games was snapped Sunday
because of acute sinusitis. Howard was hospitalized over the weekend
with a 104-degree fever, but still managed to smack a three-run homer
off the bench Saturday.
* Grady Sizemore is back
after being on the DL since last month with left elbow inflammation,
but has said that season-ending surgery may still be needed if he
suffers another setback. Sizemore was hitting just .233/.309/.417 in 49
games before taking the time off and will be playing through pain, so
it’ll be interesting to see if he can get back on track while in the
lineup every day.
The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.
After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.
But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.
- They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
- They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
- They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
- They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.
The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.
Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.