The complaint department is closed and locked up tight this afternoon, after a well-pitched, home-run friendly 5-1 Cubs win over the Angels at cool, windy Wrigley Field.
The wind was listed as blowing out at 19 miles per hour, with higher gusts, and the sunshine at the ballpark took a bit of the 50-degree April chill out of the air. And then Cubs batters started airing things out. Kris Bryant singled with one out in the first inning and Anthony Rizzo was next [VIDEO].
That ball went how far?
Go home, Statcast, you’re drunk. 472? No way. 440, maybe. Lest you think I’m just making things up about Statcast being a bit off, read this Reddit thread about the alleged 505-foot home run Rowdy Tellez hit for the Blue Jays at Fenway Park Thursday night. This article notes that home run went about 433 feet, which is a bit closer, I think. Again, Rizzo’s homer, while crushed, went 430 or 440 feet, in my view.
One out later, it was Willson Contreras’ turn [VIDEO].
That one went directly over our heads in the left-field corner and landed on the north curb on Waveland. How far, Statcast?
I’ll give them a “maybe” on that one. And who got that baseball?
So it’s 3-0 and Cole Hamels is cruising. He didn’t get many swinging strikes, but he was getting weak contact. Of the first nine outs, five were on ground balls. He allowed a hit in the second and another in the third and then Albert Pujols, who used to pound balls out of Wrigley Field with regularity as a Cardinal, smashed one leading off the fourth. It was his 28th career homer at Wrigley, most among active players. Pujols has three more years after 2019 left on his deal, but the Cubs and Angels won’t meet again until the last year of that contract (2022), and then most likely in Anaheim. So this is probably Pujols’ final series at Wrigley, and a tip ‘o the cap due to a likely first-ballot Hall of Famer. It was his 635th career homer, 25 short of Willie Mays for fifth on the all-time list.
The Cubs got that run back in the bottom of the fourth. Hello, David Bote [VIDEO].
Fun Bote HR fact:
This is only David Bote's second career MLB home run that did NOT either tie the game or give the #Cubs the lead (he has 7 total career HR).— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) April 12, 2019
And then, Contreras again in the sixth [VIDEO].
Okay, I watched both of those fly directly over my head and the second one was definitely longer. Statcast disagrees:
I dunno, maybe something’s wrong with Statcast’s equipment. (See the Reddit thread again, interesting discussion.) Fun Contreras homer facts:
Willson Contreras: first #Cubs catcher with 5+ HR through the team's first 13 games of a season since Gabby Hartnett had 5 in 1934.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) April 12, 2019
Willson Contreras— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) April 12, 2019
2018: 10 HR in 544 PA
2019: 5 HR in 40 PA#Cubs
And, here’s where Willson’s second homer wound up:
Hamels kept mowing down Angels hitters; after Pujols’ homer he retired 15 of the final 16 he faced, allowing just a two-out single to Pujols in the sixth. He threw 106 pitches (73 strikes) and I thought Joe might let him at least start the ninth, but at that pitch count and with three righthanded hitters due up, Brandon Kintzler entered and got three groundouts — his specialty — to end it. Hamels, though, was outstanding, looked just like the guy who mowed his way through 12 excellent starts for the Cubs in 2018. With Jon Lester on the shelf for a while, Hamels is the guy who has to step up and be the “horse” and this game was a great step in that direction.
No one has thrown a complete game anywhere in the major leagues so far this year. If a pitcher can’t do it in a game like this, the CG might very well be gone. There were only 42 CG in the major leagues all of 2018 in 2,431 games played. Today’s game was the 381st MLB game of 2019. We might be seeing the death of the complete game, with the possible exception of a pitcher going for a no-hitter. In fact, Hamels’ game Friday was just the fifth time this season that any starting pitcher had thrown at least eight full innings.
Anyway, today’s game is the kind of play we’ve been expecting to see from the Cubs and didn’t on the road trip. These numbers symbolize the divide:
#Cubs pitching this season— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) April 12, 2019
Road: 2-7, 7.51 ERA, 74.1 IP, 20 HR, 53 BB, 75 K, .314 Opp BA
Home: 3-1, 1.25 ERA, 36.0 IP, 3 HR, 6 BB, 39 K, .192 Opp BA
The Cubs are now 5-8 with a run differential of +4 and are 3-1 on the homestand and have outscored the opposition at Wrigley 19-6. Again, you can bang on the complaint department door all you want, no one’s going to answer, not today, anyway.
Saturday’s weather forecast looks great — sunny, less windy, temps seasonable in the lower 50s. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs as they go for their third win in a row. Chris Stratton will go for the Angels. Game time is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage Saturday will be via ABC7 Chicago.