The Cubs continued their uncanny run against the best starters in the National League on Sunday, this time actually scoring the victory over Aaron Nola. The Cubs have done Nola no favors in his bid to win his first National League Cy Young. Nola only allowed five hits on Sunday, but three of them were home runs and another was a triple. All four of those hits scored. The Cubs added two more triples and four more runs against the Phillies bullpen.
Meanwhile, Jon Lester allowed eight hits of his own. But none of those runners scored. This was a reverse of Friday night when the Cubs kept getting runners on base but weren’t scoring while the Phillies were able to cash in on one scoring opportunity and then winning on a walk-off homer. As it stands, the Cubs allowed the Phillies just three runs in a three game series this weekend. The Phillies were fortunate to get out of the weekend with even one win.
With the two wins over the weekend, the Cubs have started their four city, 11 game road trip with a three wins in four games. Moreover in this brutal looking 23 game stretch without an off day, the Cubs are now 10-3. They need to go just 2-8 to finish the stretch with a winning record. This team is hot and just the right time. The Cubs have a five-game lead for the best record in the National League with just 26 games to play. That puts the magic number for the best record in the National League at 22. The Brewers and Cardinals are each six losses back, so the number to clinch the Central is down to 21.
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 136, September 2 - Cubs continue to roll with 8-1 win in Philedelphia (81-55)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Jon Lester (.329). Jon did allow eight hits and seemingly spent the entire day pitching out of a jam. But he threw six scoreless innings and held the line until the offense could get going.
- Hero - Anthony Rizzo (.135). Anthony remains blazing hot. He reached base in four straight appearances including two hits and two walks. One of the hits was one of the homers off of Aaron Nola. He drove in two runs and scored three.
- Sidekick - Javier Baez (.079). Javy had a couple of more hits in his five at bats. One of those was his 30th home run of the year off of Aaron Nola. He added an eighth inning triple. He is in the top 10 in nearly every offensive category in the National League. He plays three different positions with some regularity and is a positive defender. I do not understand an argument where he isn’t the National League MVP.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Willson Contreras (-.071). Willson had just one walk and one run scored in his four plate appearances.
- Goat - David Bote (.043). He was hitless in four at bats with two strikeouts.
- Sidekick - Albert Almora Jr. (-.010). Another innocent bystander day for Albert. He came in late for defense, got an at bat and ends up on the wrong side of the ledger.
WPA Play of the Game: Daniel Murphy’s two-out solo homer in the third completely shifted the momentum. Aaron Nola had been wiping out the Cubs and after that didn’t seem like the same pitcher at all. (.117)
*Phillies Play of the Game: Scott Kingery singled in the fourth inning with a runner on first and one out. (.048).
- Superhero - Javier Baez 22.5
- Hero - Pedro Strop 21
- Sidekick - Ben Zobrist 15.5
Up Next: The road trip moves to Milwaukee for a three game set with the second place Brewers. Milwaukee comes in having won seven of 10, 11 of 20 and 16 of 30. They are back surging and looking to secure the top wildcard spot. The two teams have met 13 times in 2018 and the Cubs have already won nine of them. With one more win, the Cubs will clinch the season series against the Brewers. The Cubs have won the series every year since 2013. The best record the Cubs have had in that stretch was 2015 when they won 14, they’d need to win five more to tie that and six to break that. A worthwhile goal, but a tall order.
The Cubs will send Cole Hamels to the mound to start the series. Cole is 9-9 on the season with a 3.70 ERA. Over his last seven starts, he is 4-1 with a 2.05 ERA which includes his last start as a Ranger when he allowed seven runs in five innings. Hamels has been flat out dominant since joining the Cubs. Last time out he ran into a little bit of a high pitch count after an error behind him extended the inning. He still threw five shutout innings in the no decision. He allowed four hits and three walks while striking out eight. Hamels hasn’t faced the Brewers since 2016. In that start, he threw seven innings and allowed eight hits, one walks and five runs (three earned). The Cubs have yet to lose a Hamels start.
Milwaukee has steadily been putting up two out of three wins in every series. Most recently they took two of three from the Nationals in Washington. They’ll send Zach Davies to the mound. He has been out with an injury since late May. No pressure Zach. Monstrous game for the Brewers and don’t think anything of it when Craig Counsell has the bullpen up in the third inning, he’s been yanking more pitchers than not early and going with his pen every day. Zach is 2-5 with a 5.23 ERA on the season. He did win 17 games a year ago for the Brewers and posted a 3.90 ERA. He’s actually faced the Cubs twice already this year, back in April. He was 0-1 in the two games, throwing 11⅔ innings, allowing nine hits, five walks and three runs. He struck out 11.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed