Favorite Ex-Cub

Washington Nationals 7, Chicago Cubs 0. That’s not the final score. The final score was 6-1 Nats, 7-0 was the final score in stolen bases. As in the Nationals attempted 7 stolen bases and the Cubs caught them zero times. That’s not bad. That’s terrible.

7 stolen bases and nobody caught in 9 innings? Actually, it’s worse than that. It was 7 stolen bases in 4 innings and Trea Turner had four of them on his own. And on three of them, the Cubs didn’t even bother to throw down.

Let’s recap it: in the first inning, Turner had an infield single, stole second, stole third, and scored on another infield hit. In the third, he walked, stole second, stole third, and scored on an error. So he effectively turned an infield hit and a walk into a pair of triples. Was that a major league game or a little league game?

And based on what he said after the game, the only thing that stopped him from continuing to run was the code and the fact that the Nats had a five-run lead when he got on base in the 8th. Otherwise, he was probably shattering the MLB record for stolen bases in one game.

So is that a great night for Turner or a terrible night for the Cubs? And the answer is: both. Just don’t be looking to place the blame on Chicago catcher Miguel Montero. He’s having none of that. Sure, opposing runners are 31 for 31 in stolen base attempts against Montero this year. Not a single guy has been caught. Not one. No guy getting a bad lead, or stumbling in the base path. Every single guy has been successful. And yes, his average time to second base is second-worst among MLB catchers. Think about that.

Runners are 31 for 31 on this guy. What an incredible streak. What an amazing stat. I have to put that right up there with DiMaggio’s hitting streak. Ripkens’ consecutive game streak. Hell, Johnny Vandermeer’s back to back no hitters. You threw consecutive no hitters?? Pssst!  Pleasse! I allowed 31 straight stolen bases!

But to hear him tell it, it’s not on him. In fact, Montero wasn’t in the mood to own it last night. Instead, he was gassing up a Greyhound and running right it over starting pitcher Jake Arrieta. “That’s the reason they were running left and right today because they (Arrieta) were slow to the plate. Simple as that. It’s a shame it’s my fault because I didn’t throw anyone out.”

“It really sucked because the stolen bases go on me but when you really look at it the pitcher doesn’t give me any time so yeah, ‘Miggy can’t throw anyone out’ but my pitchers don’t hold anyone on.”

Montero was lighting up his pitcher the way the Nats lit up the basepaths. Not only is it not my fault, but it sucks because I get stuck with the bad stats. Not only is he pointing the finger at a teammate, he’s also publicly sweating his own stats. Absolutely Love that.

If you think Montero is pissed, you’d be right: “It was a couple times I didn’t even try to throw because it was no time, it was no chance to throw nobody (out) there, so why am I even going to make a throw? It really hurt me. He hurt me. I feel like I can still throw, like I got a good arm, my arm feel great. I just try to be quicker, I try to be perfect and to make those two together, it’s hard to do.”

Not just, it was a bad night and some bad things happened, but my starting pitcher “really hurt me. He hurt me.” Some straight friendly fire. Locker to locker in the clubhouse. And he’s right. And also wrong.

When people say, “Miggy can’t throw anyone out” they’re right, because he hasn’t thrown anyone out this year. Literally not one. But Arrieta is super-slow to the plate. Trea Turner said so, “I don’t pay attention to the catcher too much. More so (the) pitcher. I knew that Arrieta was slower to the plate, so I just wanted to be aggressive and make sure I was taking good chances.”

And Cubs manager Joe Maddon said something similar: “It’s about time to the plate. He’s a little bit slow…It’s something he works on. There are times he’s quicker and better to work with. The best anecdote is to keep the guy off the base.”

Regardless of who’s to blame for last night’s loss, and there’s plenty to go around, the larger issue isn’t who’s getting the bad stats in the stolen bases department, the team is getting bad stats in the win and losses department. It’s nearly July and they’re one game over .500. The reigning NL MVP, Kris Bryant, is hitting .259 with 32 runs batted in. One of their key clubhouse guys, Kyle Schwarber, is in Iowa because his batting average was worse than John Lackey’s.

I know there are World Series hangovers, but 8 months later, these guys haven’t even reached for the aspirin and Gatorade. They’re still asleep in the gutter.

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