Lou Piniella now following Steve Stone's advice

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Lou Piniella going off on Steve Stone last week was obviously a long time in the making, but it was pushed to the surfaced because of comments Stone made recently criticizing Piniella for not playing rookie Tyler Colvin enough.
Piniella blasted Stone for having the gall to criticize him, basically said he has no idea what he’s talking about … and is now doing exactly what Stone suggested. Seriously. Piniella said yesterday that Colvin will begin to get more playing time:

We said when the time was right we were going to make this type of move, and the time’s getting real right. He deserves an opportunity. We brought him along and he waited his turn and he deserves an opportunity.

So, maybe Piniella was just upset at Stone for stealing his thunder?
Colvin started in right field and batted second last night, replacing fellow left-handed hitter Kosuke Fukudome against right-hander Gavin Floyd. Colvin has forced his way into the lineup by hitting .296 with six homers and eight doubles in 98 at-bats as a part-time player, posting a team-leading .936 OPS, and the fact that Fukudome is also in his annual post-April slump makes things a lot easier on Piniella.
As for Stone … well, he didn’t seem to be bothered one bit by Piniella taking shots at him, seemingly taking it as well as he dished it out, and is probably pretty amused by how quickly the Cubs’ manager followed his advice. Or maybe the whole feud was all just a ruse to get the focus away from the team’s 28-35 record.

The Cubs live for another day, but death will come soon

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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.