Oh look, when there is an off day between games, they can score in double digits in consecutive games! Kidding. I think. At any rate, the Cubs offense stays red hot with their third double digit output of the week and their eighth of the season. They have a nine-run and two eight-run games besides that. When this offense gets it going, it can really just pile it on.
Today the White Sox were the victims. Carson Fullmer struggled early and when Willson Contreras put one in the basket for a grand slam, the rout was on early again. It’s hard to get too high on beating up lesser teams and the White Sox are about as lesser as it gets. At the same time, I love to see the team taking care of business. Four straight wins against the Marlins and White Sox have the Cubs back to five games over .500. After failing to have a three game winning or losing streak for the first 23 games, they’ve now had a five-game (started in game 22) winning streak followed by a five-game losing streak, followed by a four-game winning streak (and counting).
One of the new realities of baseball is teams that very actively choose to rebuild. One of the net results is more than one or two teams chasing 90 to 100 losses (or more) and more than one or two teams chasing 90 to 100 wins. It is just easier to pile up the wins than I can ever remember for a variety of reasons. A) You are going to play a chunk of your schedule against teams that are over matched. And B) those teams will trade away their productive players for more prospects, further weakening them and bolstering the rosters of good teams. It’s good to be on this side of it. Sadly, with more than a handful of teams on the downside, it is inevitable that not all of them will see a World Series or even a League Championship Series in the foreseeable future to justify the effort.
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 35, May 11 - Cubs bats pound White Sox 11-2 (20-15)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Willson Contreras (.203). Willson had that grand slam in the first I talked about. He added another home run and had two doubles and seven runs batted in. Willson made very sure that he wouldn’t end up on the wrong side of the Hero/Goat ledger in this one.
- Hero - Anthony Rizzo (.106). Anthony remains hot. He reached three times in six plate appearances. He had a single, two walks and a sacrifice fly on the day. He drove in one run and scored two.
- Sidekick - Tyler Chatwood (.091). He only lasted five innings due to three hits and five walks allowed. Two runs scored against him. He did strike out six. But hey, he picks up the win.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Javier Baez (-.067). Sadly, Javy only contributed a sacrifice fly to the parade today. He has one RBI and no runs scored. Javy has been the man driving the offense for the most part, I guess he was entitled to a tough day here or there.
- Goat - Ian Happ (-.010). I had to make a judgment call, but I went with one hit in five at bats for this spot. Ian had just the one hit and struck out two more times. I like Ian, but I’d have started Almora today. And for what it’s worth, he’d have likely only faced Fullmer once, because he was gone just that fast.
- Kid - Addison Russell (-.010). The other half of the tie, but Russell had two walks in five plate appearances. On twice is greater than on once in my book. Neither drove in or scored a run, so it seems like easy criteria.
WPA Play of the Game - Not a lot of question on this one. Willson Contreras batted with one out and the bases loaded in the first with the Cubs leading 1-0. After Willson batted it was 5-0. (.172).
*White Sox Play of the Game - With one out and runners at first and second, trailing 5-0, Daniel Parka doubled in a run (.087).
- Superhero - Javier Baez 12
- Hero - Kyle Hendricks and Pedro Stop 8
Did you feel the winds of change blowing? Javy in the top spot is the Billy Goat. Willson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo in second and third to last take the top two spots for this game. That’s a big swing for two guys who were favorites to finish at the top. (Poor Addison Russell can’t catch a break at the bottom.)
Up Next: These two teams meat again for game two of their weekend three game set. Jon Lester gets the start for the Cubs. Last time out, he had a decent start against the Cardinals. He lasted 5.2 innings, allowing six hits, four walks, two runs and striking out four. He got a no decision in a game the Cubs eventually lost. On the season he is 2-1 with a 2.82 ERA. Against the White Sox in 2017, he threw seven innings allowing four hits, one walk, two runs and striking out four. He picked up the win.
The White Sox will be looking to snap a six game losing streak. They’ll have James Shields on the mound. On the season he is 1-3 with a 5.14 ERA. Last time out, he got a no decision against the Twins after pitching 6.2 innings, allowing two hits, two walks and three runs (that’s some really bad luck) while striking out five. In 2017 he faced the Cubs lasting four innings and allowing five hits, three walks, five runs (three earned) while striking out four. He took the loss. He did have a very good start against the Cubs in 2016 though, so he is capable.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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