The Cubs still haven’t had their first three game winning (or losing) streak of the season. If you watched the Cubs broadcast last night, they told you that the Cubs are the only team in baseball that can say that. But, the Cubs did finally break their pattern. After evening their record at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3 all of the way up until 9-9, they’ve reached 20 games at 11-9. Small victories. (Hey, I suggested about a week ago that they’d make it to 20 games at 11-9!)
Once again, the offense was terrific. The Cubs managed 15 hits and 10 runs. For once, they weren’t aided by walks and hit by pitches. They squared up a ton of balls on the day and great results from that. The record now improves to 11-3 when they score at least three runs (and 0-6 otherwise). I’ll keep reiterating that statistic until it is less gaudy.
Tyler Chatwood was more of what we’ve seen from him. He walked five more hitters in six plus innings. He allowed only four hits and thus escaped with only one run allowed. He’s definitely hard to square up and that’s important, but it’s hard to imagine any kind of sustained success while he’s walking nearly one batter per inning. The bullpen recorded the final nine outs allowing two runs (one earned).
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 20, April 24 - Cubs batter Indians 10-3 (11-9)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Tyler Chatwood (.194). The offense delivered him the lead early and he only allowed one run. That was good for his second Superhero game of the month.
- Hero - Ian Happ (.178). Ian reaches this spot for the first time since April 13 with a three hit game. He had an RBI single in the second inning that gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead. He added a solo home run in the fourth that made it 5-1. He completed his night by singling and later scoring in the seventh.
- Sidekick - Kyle Schwarber (.177). Lopsided scores often skew the standings for Heroes and Goats. Kyle had two long home runs in his first two at bats, but gets nudged out by Ian’s third hit.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Anthony Rizzo (-.049). I have to wonder if this is the game that breaks Anthony out of his early season struggles. He had two hits in five at bats on the day. Neither one was overly impressive though one was an RBI single.
- Goat - Jason Heyward (-.033). There really wasn’t much negative for the Cubs, so we have two guys at the bottom of this list who had two hit games. Jason had two hits in four at bats and stays hot. It’s all about sequencing in a blow out. Heyward was retired his first two times up while the Cubs were jumping out to a 5-1 lead. He then singled leading off the seventh to start a three-run rally. He added a double in the eighth and is now up to a line of .277/.360/.431.
- Kid - Albert Almora Jr. (-.032). Albert had probably the toughest night at the plate of any of the Cubs. He had just one hit in five at bats and struck out three times. He did have a very pretty RBI bunt single in the seventh and later scored.
WPA Play of the Game - This one is short and sweet. Kyle Schwarber led off the second inning with a long home run for the game’s first run. (.101)
*Indians Play of the Game - Bradley Zimmer singled leading off the Indians third with the Indians trailing 3-0. Rajai Davis followed with a walk (.062) setting up the most promising scoring situation the Indians would muster while Chatwood was pitching. He would escape with only one run allowed.
- Superhero - Javier Baez 14
- Hero - Tommy La Stella and Kyle Schwarber 6
Up Next: The Cubs finish their two-game series with the Indians tonight. This will be one of those matchups that looks super interesting on paper. The Cubs now boast the second highest scoring per game of any team in baseball at 6.0 (Yankees 6.14). But Trevor Bauer is on the mound for the Indians. He’s got a 2.67 ERA over his first four starts. As I’ve been noting, the one way to stop these Cubs this year has been to keep them under three runs.
Trevor is coming off a loss in his most recent start in Baltimore. He did last seven innings in that one and has pitched at least seven innings in three straight starts. He allowed five hits, three walks and three runs in that last one while striking out six. He threw 116 pitches. The Indians are plenty willing to let him get deep into a game as he’s made at least 100 pitches in all four starts. Plan to see a lot of Bauer. Bauer threw a gem against the Cubs in Wrigley Field way back in 2015. In the World Series, he was 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA against the Cubs allowing 12 hits and five runs in just 8.1 innings. So most of the key contributors in the Cubs lineup have seen Trevor before and in limited plate appearances have some success against him.
Jon Lester will be looking to match (or better) Bauer. He is coming off of an outing against the Cardinals in which he threw six innings allowing only two hits, one walk and one unearned run. He has so far alternated bad and then good starts. Unfortunately if that pattern continued, this would be the bad one. He hasn’t started a regular season game against the Indians since 2015. In the World Series, he pitched in three games against the Indians throwing 14⅔ innings, allowing 13 hits, four walks and seven runs (six earned). He struck out 16. So he was fairly effective against them. This looks like a low scoring game which is about what the Indians would hope for as a team that has been getting by largely on the strength of very good pitching.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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