That first inning was sure a thing of beauty! After that, it seemed to just keep going down hill. The Cubs put some runners on base and made it at least a little interesting, but in the end the red hot Pirates continued to sizzle. Meanwhile, the 2018 Cubs continue to be stuck in second gear.
It’s important to not reach conclusions on April 10. That said, this Pirates team appears to have a ton of offensive fire power. They came into this game with the highest team OPS in baseball and 12 hits, two walks and two home runs is not going to curtail that at all. It’s not too soon to at least wonder if this Pirates team will have some staying power. Like last year’s Brewers, maybe the Pirates can roll some early momentum into staying in contention for a while.
Still, I suspect that this Cubs team will eventually leave all of the National League Central teams very far into their rear view mirror. There are no guarantees though and you just never know. This team is loaded top to bottom. Most teams can’t compare the depth in any one of the rotation, the bullpen and in the lineup and this team is deep in all of them. This team also has a ton of competitive experience and they appear to still be plenty hungry. Time will tell.
With that, we turn our attention to yesterday’s game as we look at what WPA had to say about Heroes and Goats. As always the Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA (Win Probability Added — here’s a good explanation of how WPA works) and are not in any way subjective. Many days WPA will not tell the story of what happened, but often it can give at least a glimpse to who rose to the occasion in a high leverage moment or who didn’t get the job done in that moment. Also note, for the purposes of Heroes and Goats, we ignore the results of pitchers while they are batting and hitters while they are pitching. With that, we get to the results.
Game 10, April 10 - Cubs lose home opener to Pirates 8-5 (5-5)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Willson Contreras (.058). Willson had a rough first week to the season, but he continues to roll since then. He added three more hits in this one. He singled in the first inning as part of the run scoring first inning, doubled in the fourth (.063) and singled in the eighth. He scored a run in the eighth.
- Hero - Efren Navarro (.030). Navarro made his Cubs debut with a one-out, pinch hit, infield single in the fifth.
- Sidekick - Javier Baez (.028). Javy was the offensive hero of the day for the Cubs, regardless of what WPA tells you. He homered in the second to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead (.109). He homered again in the seventh (.014). His strikeout in the eighth with the bases loaded and two outs took him down two spots (-.069).
THE THREE GOATS
- Billy Goat - Tyler Chatwood (-.307). Chatwood was more in the strike zone than his previous outing and it got him knocked around a bit. I wonder if there was a strategy put in place to pound the zone because the ball usually doesn’t carry well in April. In five innings, he allowed nine hits, one walk and five runs while striking out seven.
- Goat - Ben Zobrist (-.109). Ben had a tough day going hitless in five at bats. His fly out in the fifth with runners on first and second and two outs was the biggest negative at (-.049).
- Kid - Mike Montgomery (-.061). He threw two innings. He worked a perfect sixth, but then went back out for the seventh. After retiring the first two hitters, the wheels fell off. The next four hitters were single, single, homer, walk and the Cubs were looking up at an 8-2 deficit that proved to be too much. That second single maybe, possibly could have gone differently if Rizzo was in there, but it would have been a tough play for anyone.
WPA Play of the Game - In the third inning, Josh Harrison led off for the Pirates with a single. One out later, Starling Marte walked. At that point, Josh Bell stepped to the plate. He doubled in the tying run (.161).
*Cubs Play of the Game - Javier Baez hits a solo home run with two outs in the second inning (.109).
- Superhero - Ben Zobrist, Tommy La Stella 4
- Hero - Kris Bryant, Steve Cishek, Eddie Butler 3
Up Next: Game two of a three-game set against the Pirates Wednesday night. Jon Lester will make his third start of the year for the Cubs. He is coming off of a very strong second start last time out. He faced the Pirates four times in 2017. His last start against them in September was a very good one. He had a disastrous one last July in Wrigley Field. but there was also an earlier good one in Wrigley Field in April. All together, 19.1 innings, 24 hits, 17 runs (10 earned), 11 walks, 13 strike outs. Very much a mixed bag, but the numbers are inflated by the one horrible start in July.
Steven Brault gets the call for the Pirates. He did get one start against the Cubs last September. He threw five innings and got a no decision after allowing eight hits, two walks, and three runs while striking out no one. He’s pitched in two games this year for the Pirates, one of them was a five inning start and the other was a three inning relief appearance. Together, he’s allowed only five hits and one run in eight innings of work. He’s struck out seven but walked five. Hopefully the Cubs bats will be patient against him as walks seem to be a problem throughout his brief stay in the majors.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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