The Cubs got a reprieve from the final game of the Braves series due to the rain on Thursday. Sure, with Lester on the mound they had a chance of winning that game, but that Braves team is one tough team to face right now. I’m not at all disappointed that the game was moved to the end of August. Things could be very different by then.
Of course they then went to Cincinnati to see more rain. Can anyone remember the last game started by Jon Lester that didn’t have issues with rain? I know going back to a couple of starts ago in St. Louis he’s had rain delays before or during at least his last three days. Despite that, Jon was very good again last night. Jon is quietly having a pretty decent season. Certainly you’d love to see some more innings out of him, but his results are pretty good.
The offense rolled last night. Five straight Cubs reached base before the first out was recorded. They pushed three runs across in the first and then just slowly built their lead throughout the game. So the Cubs have now played two games against the Reds and held them to a single run each time. If that continues, the Cubs will do a whole lot better than split the games against them. We’ll find out fast if they can keep that going as there are two more games against the Reds today.
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 41, May 18 - Cubs jump out to 3-0 lead in the first and cruise to 8-1 lead (23-18)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Jon Lester (.200). Jon was superb, throwing six innings and allowing only two hits and one walk. He did allow a run on a solo homer but he struck out eight.
- Hero - Addison Russell (.146). Russell had an outstanding day after being moved back up to the fifth spot in the order. He had an RBI single in the first, the first of four hits on the day. He also stole a base and drew a walk. Dating back to April 26, Russell has started 17 games and played in 18. He has 68 plate appearances and a line of .356/.426/.525. (His .455 BABIP over that stretch is surely totally sustainable.)
- Sidekick - Kris Bryant (.090). Kris had two hits in six at bats including a first inning double. He scored a run and struck out twice on the day.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Javier Baez (-.076). Javy’s still struggling a bit. He had just one hit in five at bats, though that hit did drive in a run. He continues to lead the National League in RBI for whatever that stat is worth. It’s only a matter of time until he gets back going and I’d not be surprised if he’s still in Cincinnati when that happens.
- Goat - Jason Heyward (-.006). I always say blowouts cause some tough luck goats. Jason pinch hit and stayed in the game last night. He was retired in his one at bat.
- Kid - Albert Almora Jr. (-.004). Albert also came into the game late, was recorded in his only at bat and gets the tough luck podium appearance.
WPA Play of the Game - Kris Bryant batted in the top of the first with a runner on first and no outs. He doubled to put runners at second and third with no outs. (.099).
*Reds Play of the Game - Javy Baez batted with runners on second and third with only one out. He struck out (-.047). The first inning was the best of times and the worst of times as the first three hitters with runners in scoring position all had RBI singles and the next three all failed to get another run in.
- Superhero - Javier Baez 9
- Hero - Pedro Strop, Steve Cishek, Tyler Chatwood 8
Up Next - The same two teams play two games today with a day-night doubleheader. In Game 1, Kyle Hendricks starts for the Cubs against Luis Castillo. Kyle is 3-3 with a 3.20 ERA on the season. Last time out was a loss against the White Sox. He threw six innings allowing six hits, no walks and four runs (three earned). He struck out six. As I said then, if he repeatedly throws six innings, allows six hits, no walks and strikes out six, he’ll be one of the better pitchers in the league. In his two starts against Cincinnati last year he lasted six innings in each. He allowed a total of 11 hits, six walks, and two runs over the two starts. He struck out ten. He won one and had a no decision in the other.
Castillo is 3-2 with a 6.02 ERA on the year. Last time out he pitched well in Los Angeles against the Dodgers during the Reds sweep of the Dodgers. He threw six innings allowing four hits, no walks and three runs (two earned). He struck out eight. Oddly two of the four hits were home runs. His three starts in May have been very good. He made one start against the Cubs last year in August. He threw six scoreless innings allowing two hits and two walks while striking out seven.
In game two, Jose Quintana faces Sal Romano. Jose is 4-3 with a 5.23 on the season. But his numbers are actually quite good when he starts against a team that is not the Braves. He made two starts against the Reds last year. He was 1-0 with a 4.66 ERA. He threw only 9.2 innings and allowed 10 hits, four walks and six runs (five earned) with nine strike outs.
Sal Romano is 2-4 with a 4.84 ERA on the season. He got rocked in his last start in San Francisco. He lasted only 2.1 innings and allowed eight hits, two walks and six runs. He had two good starts in a row before that at home. He also made a good start against the Cubs last August. He threw seven innings, allowed six hits, three walks and allowed two runs while striking out seven.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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