One more monkey off the Cubs back. They win on Friday in the first of three scheduled games against the Angels. That win gives them bac-to-back wins for the first time in 2019. So on Thursday, they won their first series of the year and now they’ve won back to back. Anyone up for a third straight accomplishment and winning three straight for the first time?
Cole Hamels was fantastic, throwing eight innings of one run ball to top the seven inning performance of Jose Quintana the day before. This wouldn’t be the first time in the history of sports where a team lost a key player (Jon Lester), circled the wagons and then went on a roll.
This was an odd one, with the Cubs combining four homers with a large number of infield hits to produce five runs. And so it is that the Cubs have now won four of six. Obviously, after an early six game losing streak, there is still a ton of work to do. But, slowly but surely the Cubs are inching back into the picture.
As an added bonus, the Cubs bullpen didn’t allow a run in one inning of work. If the Cubs can get through Saturday unscathed, that will be a whole week of no runs allowed by the pen. Obviously, in the Lester game, the bullpen was used a ton, but certainly the relievers going deep and allowing Joe to be choosier with his bullpen usage doesn’t hurt.
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 13, April 12: Cubs 5, Angels 1 (5-8)
- Superhero: Cole Hamels (.240). Cole threw eight innings and allowed four hits, one run and struck out six. That Albert Pujols just couldn’t help himself...
- Hero: Anthony Rizzo (.150). Anthony kicked off the scoring with a two-run homer in the first inning. (Being first tops going deep twice in this one.) The homer was Rizzo’s only hit in four at bats. Anthony is in an odd streak, having not had a multi-hit game since March 31, though he has hits in seven of 10 games over that stretch. It’s the not-slump slump.
- Sidekick: Willson Contreras (.105). Contreras doesn’t miss the Hero podiums. He lands third with his three-hit, two-homer day. He scored twice and drove in twice.
- Billy Goat: Javier Baez (-.031). Javy had another rough day at the plate with three strikeouts in four at bats.
- Honorable Mention: Cole Hamels (-.027). Cole was hitless in three at bats with one strikeout.
- Goat: Albert Almora Jr. (-.019). Timing is everything. Albert actually had a two hit game and even stole a base, but lands down here because he wasn’t involved in any of the scoring.
- Kid: Mark Zagunis (-.003). Only four Cubs landed in negative territory and one gets dropped. Mark had one hit in four at bats. He struck out twice.
WPA Play of the Game: With no lead changes, this was an easy one to identify. Anthony Rizzo’s two-run first inning home run lands in the top spot. (.175)
*Angels Play of the Game: The all-time active Cubs nemesis struck again. Albert Pujols hit a solo homer leading off the fourth. At the time, it cut the Cubs lead to 3-1. (.085)
Cumulative Standings Top 3/Bottom 3:
(# = returned to minors)
- Ben Zobrist 11
- Jason Heyward/Willson Contreras 6
- Yu Darvish/Kris Bryant -5
- Kyle Hendricks -6
- #Carl Edwards Jr. -8
Up Next: The Cubs will look to make it three straight while the Angels seek their seventh win in eight tries. Kyle Hendricks will look to turn things around in his third start of the year. In the first two, he’s thrown 8⅓ innings and has a 6.48 ERA (and his actual runs allowed average is much worse thanks to six unearned runs in his first start). Last time out he was marginally better allowing four runs in four innings before leaving for a pinch hitter in a tie game against the division rival Brewers. Kyle has never started a game against the Angels.
Chris Stratton will be the Angels starter. He too has made two starts and thrown a total of 8⅓ innings in the early going. Last time out, he threw four innings and allowed two runs against the Rangers. Chris has pitched for the Giants for the last three years including 26 starts for them a year ago. Chris is right handed and has normal looking splits. (.730 OPS against right handed hitters and .829 against lefties.) Chris has made one start against the Cubs and is 1-0 despite a 5.40 ERA. He threw five innings and allowed three runs including two home runs.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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