HBT Weekend Wrapup


I needed this weekend wrapup more than usual because I’ve really been out of baseball circulation the past couple of days. My folks took my kids out to the lake on Saturday, so Mrs. Shyster and I had a nice lunch, took in a movie, did a little aimless wandering and then had a nice dinner. Yesterday we had my boy’s fifth birthday party. Over both days I was on an Internet detox regimen that, while not a total blackout, was about as unplugged as I ever get. When you spend as much time in front of a screen as I do you just gotta do that sometimes.

The upshot: I didn’t watch an inning of baseball all weekend, and really didn’t pay attention to what the hell was going on. Thank goodness, then, for D.J. and Drew who documented that which needed to be documented and allowed me to catch up quite nicely this morning. The highlights:

  • Nick Swisher hit a walkoff single on the night the Yankees paid tribute to The Boss. I’m glad this event managed to bring some attention to Steinbrenner’s passing, because I was worried that people were completely missing it.
  • I’m sure a bunch of people heard about Yogi Berra falling down and thought “Oh noes! These things come in threes!”  I had breakfast with my personal mystic this morning, however, and she tells me that Yogi will not form the trio with Sheppard and Steinbrenner. She was insistent, however, that I cancel my bowling date with Joe Pepitone next Thursday.
  • Matt Kemp isn’t being dealt. Of course, the only reason we’re obligated to mention this is because someone ridiculously suggested that he was going to get dealt.

The movie, by the way, was “Inception,” which I liked a great deal. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it will likely make a lot of money and will thereby cause movie studios to try and cash in with copycat psychological thrillers, all of which will almost certainly be muddled disasters because they won’t be written and directed by Chris Nolan.

Anyway, back to baseball for me.  Let’s get on with our week.

The Cubs clinch World Series berth with NLCS Game 6 win

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  The Chicago Cubs celebrate defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.

The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).

Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.

With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.

Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.

With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder:

Video: Willson Contreras blasts first postseason home run off of Kershaw

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game six of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Getty Images

So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.

According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).

Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.