At least a little more like it. The bats were slow to arrive to the party on Friday as for a third straight day it looked like the offense would be stymied. But then the Cubs rallied for four in the bottom of the seventh. That made five runs on the day. The Cubs scored five and that was good for the win. That makes the Cubs 19-5 when they score at least four.
The Cubs have still not put together a really sustained run of wins. And yet, they are five games over .500. Other than the 2016 season, the Cubs have been remarkably consistent. In 2015 and 2017 they won 25 of their first 47 games and in 2016 they won 33 of them. Those seasons in order ended with 97, 103 and 92 wins. This year they are on a pace to win 90 games. This team has been maddening at times to be sure, but they are pretty much where they need to be. Better would be great, but they are on pace to be in contention all of the way down to the last season. If they can have a great stretch of baseball or two as they’ve had in each of the last three seasons, I still suspect they’ll win the division easily.
Certainly, of the three overwhelming National League favorites heading into the season, better to be the Cubs at 26-21 than the Dodgers who are at 23-27. If you’ve missed it, the Nationals have rallied and are now 27-22. That still leaves them in third place, but certainly in striking distance. Another N.L. favorite, the Diamondbacks, have really faded of late and are now only two games above .500 at 26-24. For all of these teams, there is a lot of baseball left. Right now today, I’d wager that only two teams are firmly out of contention (Marlins and Reds) with another team (Padres) unlikely to have the horses to get hot and get back into contention. The Dodgers, for all their struggles, are back to within striking distance, as the Rockies are in first place at only 27-24.
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 47, May 25 - Cubs and Hendricks shrink the Giants down to size in 6-2 win (26-21)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Kyle Hendricks (.333). Kyle was superb on the day. He threw seven innings and allowed only two hits, two walks and one run. He struck out seven.
- Hero - Ben Zobrist (.227). Ben lead off the first for the Cubs with a single. He added a two run double in the decisive seventh inning. He had two hits in four at bats on the day. He drove in two runs and also scored two.
- Sidekick - Javier Baez (.058). This was very much a two-man show. But Javy lands here despite no hits in three at bats. He was hit by a pitch, stole a base and scored the go-ahead run in the seventh inning.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Willson Contreras (-.092). I’m writing this name too often on this side of the ledger. Willson was hitless in four at bats.
- Goat - Albert Almora Jr. (-.015). Albert actually had a hit in his four at bats. There was very little separation on this day.
- Kid - Brian Duensing (-.008). He faced one batter and allowed a walk. With two outs in the ninth inning and a runner on first (who moved to second during the at bat), that was just enough to land him here.
WPA Play of the Game - With one out in the seventh inning in a 1-1 game with the bases loaded, Ben Zobrist came through with a two run double to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead. (.190)
*Giants Play of the Game - After Kyle Hendricks breezed through three innings, Gorkys Hernandez led off the fourth inning with a solo home run to tie the game. The only blemish on Kyle’s day.
- Superhero - Javier Baez 11
- Hero - Pedro Strop 9
- Sidekick - Steve Cishek and Tommy La Stella 8
Up Next: Game two of a three-game set. Jose Quintana will be on the hill. It isn’t the Braves, so it’ll be all right. OK everyone? Last time out he was magnificent. He threw seven innings allowing only one hit, four walks and striking out seven. He allowed no runs. Last year he faced the Giants in August. He threw six innings and allowed six hits, one walk and four runs (three earned) while striking out three. He’s made two starts against the Giants in his career and he is 0-2 with a 4.97 ERA.
Chris Stratton is the opposition. Chris is 5-3 with a 4.92 ERA on the season. Last time out he threw five innings in a win against the Rockies. He allowed eight hits, two walks and four runs (three earned). He only struck out one. That line should not be good enough to win. The start before that he also threw five innings in a win. He also allowed two walks and only struck out one and allowed four runs. So in the last two starts he’s made, he’s allowed 17 hits in 10 innings, allowed four walks, eight runs (seven earned) and only struck out two. Hie last good start was against the Nationals in April. The start before that against the Diamondbacks he was even better. It seems that as film has gotten around the National League, his results have gone south. Let’s hope that continues, because as you have probably noticed, the Cubs don’t do great against pitchers like Stratton who they’ve never seen before.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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