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The Thursday Takeaway

Even though Wrigley Field has undergone substantial renovations and improvements that have brought the crown jewel of Chicago baseball up to snuff compared to contemporary stadiums, The Friendly Confines is still a ballpark that manages to spring up a surprise or two in its old age. The getaway-day game between the Cubs and Dodgers brought up yet another one of those “you never know what you’re going to get” moments for the people who were in attendance.

Before we get to that moment, we’ve got to talk about the game first. The Cubs didn’t have much of a problem dispatching of the Dodgers on Thursday afternoon, as they cruised to a 4-0 victory. Brett Anderson didn’t have the best outing of his career, but it was good enough to help keep the Dodgers off the scoreboard for the five innings that he was on the mound.

Anderson ran into a couple of jams in his final two innings of work that contributed to him throwing 90 pitches on the day. He got out of the fourth by inducing a grounder, then managed to get Yasiel Puig to feebly pop out into foul territory to escape a bases-loaded jam in the fifth. Again, it wasn’t pretty, but nobody wearing the Cubs’ shade of blue was complaining about the results.

Anderson’s efforts on the mound helped preserve what was then a two-run lead for Chicago. The Cubs added a couple more runs in the bottom half of the fifth to make it 4-0, but none of those were as loud as the second run that they scored back in the third inning. That’s when Addison Russell saw an 88 mph four-seamer from Hyun-Jin Ryu and decided to send it to whoever was lucky enough to be walking along Waveland Avenue at that moment.

Meanwhile, Corey Seager probably left Chicago today wondering why Albert Almora Jr. hates him so much.

However, the weird moment that made this game stick out from the vast multitude of baseball games that have been played at Wrigley Field happened in the third inning. That’s when a question that nobody ever thought about immediately came to prominence: “Is the ivy part of the wall?

Much to the dismay of Kyle Schwarber, the answer to that question is “yes,” so his catch ended up being turned into a double upon review. On the bright side, we all learned something new yesterday and we have the uniqueness of old Wrigley Field to thank for that.

Quick Hits

It isn’t summer yet, but if you’re feeling the effects of a heat wave right now then you’ll have to blame Yoenis Cespedes. He clubbed three homers on Tuesday, and then took his luxurious dinger tour down to Miami and added two more massive home runs to his tally.

However, there was another hitter at Marlins Park who’s currently swinging a bat made of flames: Marcell Ozuna. His slash line of .389/.452/.722 with four homers and a TAv of .416 going into last night’s game is the stuff that purveyors of Short Sample Size theater dream of, and he added a grand slam to what’s been a great start at the plate.

The two teams ended up combining for 16 runs through eight innings, but it would take another eight innings for another run to be scored by either team as we ended up getting the longest game in Marlins Park history—one that the Mets eventually won in 16 innings. Then again, weird things tend to happen at ballparks when black cats are involved, so Don Cattingly may have had something to do with this.

Two-homer games are always fun—just ask Cespedes about that. However, what’s even more fun is when you hit those two homers from both sides of the plate. That’s what Aaron Hicks managed to do at Yankee Stadium last night, going deep from both sides during New York’s 3-2 win over Tampa Bay.

Josh Tomlin only made it through 1 2/3 innings against the White Sox, which meant that Thursday’s game ended up turning into a bullpen night for Cleveland. After the defending AL champions went through four relievers on the evening, they decided that with the score being 10-4 in favor of Chicago, you may as well hand the ball to position player Michael Martinez. Not only did Martinez pitch a scoreless frame, he even broke Tim Anderson’s bat with a blistering 83 mph heater!

Defensive Play of the Day

It’s very difficult to make this section when there’s an errant throw involved, but we’re not focusing on the throw. Instead, focus on what Elvis Andrus does at second base as he applies the “tag” to Cameron Maybin.

This ended up being crucial because Maybin eventually made it to third base on a wild pitch. Had he been at third to begin with, that would’ve resulted in a run. Instead, the Angels got shut out and Andrus is the defensive hero of the day despite not even touching the baseball on that play.

What to Watch on Friday

There’s really only one reason for a neutral fan to tune in to a Braves/Padres game this year, and it has more to do with the backdrop of the game rather than the actual matchup. Yes, it’s always nice to take the opportunity to watch Julio Teheran pitch, but he’ll be pitching in SunTrust Park as the team finally opens up their new (if not superfluous) ballpark in the Atlanta suburbs after spending two weeks on the road.

As far as actually exciting pitching matchups go, you can’t go wrong with the one that will be going down at Fenway Park. Rick Porcello will be taking the ball for the Red Sox as they welcome in the Rays for a four-game series. His pitching counterpart will be Chris Archer, and while Archer hasn’t done well at Fenway in his career, giving up three or more earned runs in four of his five career starts there, he’ll be hoping to turn things around tonight. Meanwhile, Porcello owned the Rays last year and pitched very well overall at Fenway in 2016 (2.97 ERA, 2.90 FIP, with a 21.0 K% and 3.1 BB%), so the odds are probably in Boston’s favor for this one.

Once you’re finished watching that, you should turn your attention to the west coast nightcap, which will be giving us a Dodgers/Diamondbacks game. Arizona will be sending Zack Greinke to the bump, and the team as a whole has gotten off to a surprisingly good 7-3 start. They’ll be facing Clayton Kershaw, and I don’t think that you need too much motivation to watch one of the great pitchers of this era continue to do his thing on the mound.

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