Must-Win Update, Sept. 24
The Cubs are big winners. The Padres, Giants and Reds ... not so much.
Another fascinating day in the four active pennant races — the American League East race, the three-team free-for-all in the American League West, the overall American wild card, and the increasingly-less-bananas National League wild-card race, which is beginning to take shape now that the Padres, Giants and probably Reds have dropped out.
Here we go — looking at Saturday’s big winners, big losers and those who more or less held serve.
Chicago Cubs (beat the Rockies 6-3)
The Cubs moved a game up in the wild-card spot thanks to a nice comeback and six beautiful relief innings from IOC board members Javier Assad, Julian Merryweather and José Cuas, who I will not invent a funny title for because his real-life story is so absurd and wonderful that it cannot be topped.
Cuas was first drafted in the 40th round out of his Brooklyn high school back in 2012, and then drafted again in the 12th round coming out of the University of Maryland in 2015. He was an infielder then, a third baseman mostly, and his bat just never came around. It wasn’t that big a surprise; he didn’t really hit at Maryland, either, but he was such a good athlete, a good defender, and he flashed promising power, that the Brewers decided to take a flier.
In 2018, the Brewers desperately tried him out as a relief pitcher — it didn’t work at all, and they released him midseason. He went to play independent ball on Long Island where his pitching coach happened to be Francisco Rodriguez — K-Rod himself. And K-Rod told him he ought to try throwing sidearm, I mean, why not? He pitched pretty well that way, and so Arizona took a shot, signed him, he pitched well in the D-Backs’ organization, but he was 25 and still in A-ball when the pandemic hit, and Arizona let him go. He took a job with FedEx and prepared to live a regular-guy life.
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