The Dodgers are a mighty team and sweeping them always seemed like a tall order. Still, after having won the first two games of the series, if you’d told me they’d hold the Dodgers to two runs, I’d have guessed they would have accomplished that.
The one thing that hurt in this one was that it wasn’t really the prodigious power of the Dodgers wasn’t particularly what lead to their two runs. Sure, Alex Verdugo smashed the ball that lead to his triple. But, as has been occasionally the case, I’m not sure that Jason Heyward took the best possible route to cutting the ball off. Might he have been able to hold this to a double? Then Javier Baez made an error on a ground ball to him with the infield in. A single followed, but how might the inning have progressed differently if Javy recorded that out or if Heyward had in fact held Verdugo to two? We’ll never know. Then, on the second run, two walks and a hit batter lead to a sacrifice fly.
The Cubs managed just one extra base hit and that wasn’t until the ninth inning. That’s not going to get it done very often. The Cubs also had two runners tagged out on the bases. That isn’t ideal either.
I’m not going to lose any sleep over this one. The Cubs took two of three from a red-hot Dodgers team that came in with the best record in the league. Prior to that, they took two of three from a Diamondbacks team that has only lost two of 10. This was a very good homestand against two very good teams. The team heads out on a five game road trip one game over .500.
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 23, April 25: Cubs 1, Dodgers 2 (12-11)
- Superhero: Jon Lester (.116). Welcome back Jon. Lester pitched well, allowing only four hits and no walks in five innings of work. He struck out five. He did allow the one run, but was otherwise pretty effective.
- Hero: Brad Brach (.106). Brach did a great job keeping the game at 1-0 with two scoreless innings. He did walk one batter, but struck out three. Against a largely left-handed Dodgers line-up, this was a strong performance. Brach hasn’t yet been able to start really stacking the strong outings, but the potential remains.
- Sidekick: Albert Almora Jr. (.085). Albert finally had his first extra-base hit of the season. He had a homer and a hit by pitch in two plate appearances. Obviously, he was responsible for the only run scored and the only run driven in. I’ve been hard on Albert. I hope this is the start of something big and not just a one off.
- Billy Goat: Ben Zobrist (-.280). Ben was hitless in four at bats out of the lead off spot. 79 plate appearances into the year, he’s yet to have an extra base hit. In Ben’s defense, he made really good contact on the double play ball he hit to end the seventh inning that landed here (-.187) but hit it right at the shifted second baseman.
- Goat: Anthony Rizzo (-.122). Rizzo did have a single in four at bats. He lands here due to his fly out with a runner on first and two outs in the fifth inning (-.075).
- Kid: Daniel Descalso (-.119). Tough day at the plate for Daniel with three strikeouts in four at bats. Daniel now has two hits in his last 21 plate appearances. He does have three walks and a double over that stretch, so it isn’t all bad.
WPA Play of the Game: Ben Zobrist’s double play ball actually winds up in this spot. (.187)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Kyle Schwarber’s lead-off double in the fifth inning. (.094)
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
(# = returned to minors)
- Javier Baez 9
- Willson Contreras/Jason Heyward 7
- Kyle Schwarber -7
- Yu Darvish/#Carl Edwards Jr. -8
Up Next: Two surging teams tangle in Arizona. The Cubs, despite Thursday’s loss, have won seven of 10. The Diamondbacks are coming off of a four-game sweep in Pittsburgh and have won eight of 10. Of course those only two losses came at the hands of the Cubs last weekend.
Kyle Hendricks is expected to start the opener. Kyle is 1-3 with a 3.54 ERA on the season in 20⅓ innings of work. Last time out he was superb against the Diamondbacks throwing seven shutout innings and allowing three hits, two walks and striking out 11. Kyle was 1-1 in 2018 against the Diamondbacks allowing only four runs in 13⅔ innings of work. His better start was the one in Arizona for what that’s worth. Players currently on the 40-man roster for the Diamondbacks have a combined .441 OPS against Kyle.
Robbie Ray will start for the Diamondbacks. He is 0-1 with a 3.95 ERA in 27⅓ innings of work. He pitched well in Chicago but received a no decision after allowing one run on four hits and one walk in six innings of work. He faced the Cubs twice in 2018 and was 1-0 and allowed only one run in 13 innings of work. Players on the current Cubs 40-man roster have a combined .426 OPS against Robbie.
On paper at least, this figures to be a pitcher’s duel.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Albert Almora Jr.