We already knew coming into the City Series that the Chicago White Sox were cruising to a division title and the Cubs were starting over after a historic sell-off.
1. It’s time to stop worrying about White Sox starter Carlos Rodón.
The Sox left-hander entered Saturday having had back-to-back four-inning outings but struck out 11 Cubs and allowed only two hits in five-plus innings before leaving after 89 pitches on a hot, humid afternoon. Rodón wanted to keep pitching.
“He was talking more with his heart and his gut than with his head,” manager Tony La Russa said.
Rodón’s performance was the most dominant outing by a Sox starter in the City Series since Chris Sale struck out 15 and allowed one hit over seven shutout innings in a 3-1 win on Aug. 16, 2015, at U.S. Cellular Field. Sale threw 116 pitches that afternoon, a pitch limit the Sox wouldn’t dare go to with Rodón.
The franchise record is 16 strikeouts by Jack Harshman on July 25, 1954 against the Boston Red Sox.
2. After improving to a season-best 11 games over .500 at 38-27 on June 13, the Cubs have gone 14-33, a .298 winning percentage.
They’re hitting .218 and averaging 3.6 runs per game over that 47-game stretch. With 50 games left, the Cubs are on pace for their worst finish since losing 89 games in 2014 under Rick Renteria.
3. Eloy Jiménez’s legs looked fine while beating out an infield hit in the first and scoring from first on Yoán Moncada’s double off the ivy in center.
La Russa removed Jiménez for a pinch-runner during Friday’s game to preserve his legs and said Jiménez should be fine to start in left again Sunday night in the series finale.
“Knock on wood, I think he feels good,” La Russa said.
4. Judging by the reaction of Cubs fans this weekend, the heir apparent to the Big 3′s shared throne of most popular player is catcher Willson Contreras.
Now it’s up to the Cubs to sign Contreras to a long-term deal this winter, or he’ll be answering nonstop questions about his future, as Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Báez did all season.
5. There might be no bigger baseball fan in Chicago than former Blackhawks star Chris Chelios, who has been a presence at both ballparks all season.
Chelios was sitting near the Sox dugout Thursday night at Sox Park and behind home plate at the City Series opener Friday at Wrigley. In a city of divided allegiances, it’s nice to see someone who seems to enjoy baseball on both sides of town.
6. Kudos to Murphy’s Bleachers for trolling Cubs-turned-Sox reliever Craig Kimbrel on their message board Saturday morning.
“Kimbrel you left your keys here,” the sign read.
Kimbrel rebounded from his blown save Friday to pitch a scoreless eighth inning Saturday.
7. Bryant didn’t push back at Cubs President Jed Hoyer like Rizzo did when Hoyer said he could sleep well after offering fair extensions to departing Cubs players.
“In his mind he’s going to be right, and maybe in ours he’ll be wrong,” Bryant said Friday in Milwaukee, according to NBC Sports Chicago. “And it’s OK to disagree and then you move on from there. I wasn’t approached at any point (after) the spring after the World Series. That was the one time.”
8. Cubs fans soaking up the sun and playing catch during pregame at Gallagher Way on Saturday were treated to the sight of Rizzo on the giant video board.
Rizzo’s appearance was not planned. It came about because the New York Yankees were playing the Seattle Mariners, and it was the only game being played at the time. Still, many fans stopped what they were doing to watch Rizzo’s at-bat before returning to their festivities.
9. Cubs fans one week ago: ‘Who is Greg Deichmann?’
Cubs fans Saturday: “Why isn’t Deichmann in the lineup?”
10. Believe it or not, starter Kyle Hendricks, who debuted on July 10, 2014, is now the longest-tenured Cubs player.
Hendricks and David Bote also are the only players signed through 2024.
Jake Arrieta arrived from the Baltimore Orioles in 2013, but signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2018 before returning to the Cubs this season. Contreras has been in the organization longer, dating to 2009.
The longest-tenured Sox player is Leury García, who was acquired from the Texas Rangers on Aug. 11, 2013, as the player to be named later in the Álex Ríos deal and made his debut on Aug. 23, 2013.
11. La Russa’s last City Series as manager was on May 19, 1986, at Wrigley, a 3-0 Sox win.
It took place only a couple of weeks after the Sox tried to hire Yankees broadcaster Billy Martin to replace La Russa in a plan that didn’t work out for then-general manager Hawk Harrelson.
Though the “Crosstown Classic” was just an exhibition game, La Russa told Chicago Tribune reporter Ed Sherman that day: “I can`t tell you how many fans come up to me and say, ‘No matter what you do, beat the Cubs.’ I ask them, ‘Wouldn`t you rather have us win the division?’ You’d be surprised at how many say no.”
Rest assured, that no longer is the case.
12. Former Sox slugger Frank Thomas was showing off videos Friday of his 12-year old son, Frankie, a left-handed power hitter nicknamed ‘Lefty Lil Hurt.’
Frankie played recently in Cooperstown, N.Y., with the Lake County Lightning, a 12-and-under team. Thomas, who played tight end at Auburn, said his son also plays football and could be a multisport athlete when he gets to high school.
Thomas and his wife, Megan, live in the northern suburbs.
13. The 1906 White Sox were dubbed the ‘Hitless Wonders’ for being able to win without offense.
They batted a league-worst .230 but won the American League pennant and beat the Cubs in six games in the World Series. The modern-day version might well be National League Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers, who were hitting .227 on Saturday, just below the Cubs’ .228 average.
14. The biggest winners of the weekend after nearly 80,000 fans attended the first two games combined?
Wrigleyville bar and restaurant owners.