The Thursday Takeaway
The story of Thursday’s game between the Cubs and the Brewers started on May 20, when it was initially rained out. This was despite the fact that the two teams played through considerably worse weather on May 19, which prompted Brewers manager Craig Counsell to deliver one of the best quotes of the season.
"It's the first time we've had guys treated for sunburn after a rainout," a wry Brewers manager Craig Counsell today.
— jon greenberg (@jon_greenberg) May 21, 2017
At the time of that game, the Brewers were shockingly at the top of the NL Central while the Cubs had stumbled out of the gates relative to their expectations. Fast forward to Thursday afternoon, and the only thing that’s changed is that the weather was actually gorgeous at Wrigley Field. Other than that, the Cubs are still stumbling around and the Brewers are still in first place, and they made an emphatic statement in this makeup game.
Milwaukee came out of the gates firing on all cylinders with a two-run first inning, but that paled in comparison to what they’d do in the third inning. Let’s just say that any time you walk a pitcher, it’s bad. Any time you walk a pitcher with the bases loaded, it’s atrocious. That’s exactly what Jack Leathersich “accomplished” when he capped off three consecutive free passes by walking Zach Davies. This was in the midst of a seven-run inning for Milwaukee that basically put the game out of reach early.
There wasn’t much drama when it came to the result. The only real concern happened when Keon Broxton re-acquainted himself with the brick wall in Wrigley’s outfield. Fortunately he didn’t get injured again and made it through the rest of the game without much of a problem.
The other drama came in the ninth inning, when the Cubs decided to have outfielder Jon Jay pitch. This is always fun to watch, but it also comes with the caveat that the team who’s sending a fielder to the mound is normally getting hammered. At least he threw a scoreless inning and was also throwing heat at a blazing 46 miles per hour!
Milwaukee will now head to the Bronx knowing that they’ll be going into the All-Star break in first place, which is a dream scenario turned into reality for the Brewers. Plus, they also got revenge of sorts for the rainout-that-wasn’t-a-rainout. The only thing that could have gone wrong for the Brewers on Thursday would be if some of Counsell’s players actually needed to be treated for a real sunburn.
Speaking of rain delays with a lack of rain, check out the Doppler radar from last night in Washington D.C.
— Howard Bernstein (@hbwx) July 6, 2017
That was 50 minutes into the rain delay. An hour later, Nationals Park was dry but the diamond was still empty. Ender Inciarte was perplexed! This tweet actually achieved the rare feat of bipartisan support in Washington D.C., because Bryce Harper threw a “like” to Inciarte for his quip.
Can't. The tarp is dry. https://t.co/Nomy7ROZ7x
— Ender Inciarte (@enderinciartem) July 7, 2017
A light drizzle did eventually descended upon Nationals Park, which I guess justified the three-hour rain delay. At 10:10 pm EST, the Braves and Nationals finally got things rolling and just over three hours later, Atlanta handed Washington its 35th loss of the season. Plus, if you stayed up late to catch it then you got to see Dansby Swanson somehow turn this into a double play.
While fans of those teams were waiting through the horrific weather of 75 degrees and cloudy, other fans across baseball got to enjoy watching their teams play in a timely manner. The Rays and Red Sox finished their game in two hours and 43 minutes, and Chris Sale helped quicken things by striking out 12 over seven innings of work.
So Sale has 176 strikeouts this season. 26 pitchers struck out that many batters all of last year. It is July 6. Good lord
— OverTheMonster (@OverTheMonster) July 7, 2017
Although Edwin Encarnacion hasn’t been spectacular in his first season with Cleveland, he’s definitely shown flashes of still being the fearsome hitter who had his way with AL pitching North of the border. He had a particularly bright flash of that ability on Thursday when he went 4-for-5 during a rout of the Padres.
The Astros had their way with the Braves over the past two days, to the tune of 26 runs. However, their visit to Canada is already even tougher than their trip to Cobb County was, as the Blue Jays gave them a rude welcome. Toronto won 7-4, and the turning point was a five-run fifth inning.
Plus, it always helps when Josh Donaldson is making defensive plays like this one.
Around this time last week, Ichiro Suzuki was busy making age-defying defensive plays in the outfield. This week, he reached yet another milestone in his amazing career. He led off the top of the eighth by rolling a single up the middle, and that hit made him the MLB career leader in hits by a player born outside of the United States, as he passed Rod Carew on the hit list.
Defensive Play of the Day
Another game that started and finished while the people at Nationals Park were busy battling the elements happened in Philadelphia, where the Phillies and Pirates renewed their Keystone State rivalry. The Phillies lost 6-3 and made history in the process.
The #Phillies left no runners on base for the first time since June 22, 2011 at St. Louis and just the 16th time since at least 1913.
— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) July 7, 2017
One person who played a big role in making sure the basepaths were cleansed of Phillies was Jose Osuna, who racked up three outfield assists in this game alone.
What to Watch on Friday
We’re at the cusp of the All-Star break and against all odds, the Royals have clawed their way back into the AL Central race. At their nadir, they were 10-20, seven games out, and it seemed like the Royals were destined to have a long season. However, they’ve battled their way into the race and are actually 44-40 right now, within striking distance of Cleveland.
They’ll receive a very stiff test heading to Chavez Ravine to face off against the Dodgers. Los Angeles will be heading into this game with at least five All-Stars to their name after Justin Turner got in. That’s a relief, because having a player who was going into Thursday’s games with a .384/.473/.571 slash line with a .379 TAv miss out on the Midsummer Classic would’ve been a bit of a shame. We’ll see if he can boost that line heading into the All-Star break as they get things started against the Royals this weekend.