This one really felt like one of those games that neither team wanted to win. Of course, we know that’s a whole lot of hyperbole. Neither team stood around for 15 innings to go home disappointed. Not only the time and energy, but in the early going, these two teams are among the early contenders in the National League where nine of the 15 teams are within two games of .500.
The two teams combined to walk 12 batters and hit three others. There were a seemingly infinite string of runners left on base, particularly during the extra innings. Then, after the teams went from the seventh to the 14th innings without scoring any runs, both teams plated multiple runs in the 15th. This was a weird one for sure.
Ben Zobrist lead a push to have David Bote start in Ben’s place after his awesome game Saturday night. Then he came off the bench with two hits and a walk including the team’s biggest hit. Kyle Ryan and Allen Webster were very possibly on the “unavailable” list for the game after both pitching Saturday night (two innings for Ryan) and combined to close out the 15th inning.
On the Diamondbacks side, Eduardo Escobar came into this one with a lifetime .456 OPS in 29 plate appearances against Jose Quintana and then smacked two home runs. Sometimes baseball just doesn’t make sense. The two teams combined to use 41 players. Just a little crazy. With the win, the Cubs kept alive a streak dating back to April 7 in which they have won or tied every series they’ve played.
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 26, April 28: Cubs 6 at Diamondbacks 5 (14-12)
- Superhero: Ben Zobrist (.550). This will almost certainly end up being one of the top WPA games of the season. Ben had gone 25 games without an extra-base hit. Didn’t start this one, but then delivered an essentially game winning double in the 15th inning. He had a single and a walk besides.
- Hero: Tyler Chatwood (.295). Tyler came into the game with the bases loaded and found 97 and 98 on the Arizona gun to record an inning ending strike out. He then went back out and threw another scoreless inning. His lead-off double in the top of the 15th was also worth .117 that isn’t included in this total. Tyler gets the win in this one that he sadly didn’t earn last Sunday in his one start of the year, despite pitching extremely well.
- Sidekick: Brandon Kintzler and Pedro Strop (.274). This is the going rate for two scoreless innings in the ninth inning or later. Strop allowed two hits and struck out two in his two innings. Kintzler allowed one hit and struck out one.
- Honorable Mention: Kris Bryant (.270). Kris just falls short with a two-run homer and a sacrifice fly that turned out to be the decisive run. He officially at six at bats.
- Billy Goat: David Bote (-.427). David had one hit and three strikeouts in seven at bats. David had two of the 10 largest negative events in the game. In the 12th, he grounded into an inning ending fielder’s choice. (-.171). In the 14th, he reached on a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded and one out with the lead runner being cut down at the plate. (-.181)
- Goat: Jason Heyward (-.325). Jason had just one hit and two strikeouts in seven at bats. JHey had one of the 10 largest negative events. He struck out with the bases loaded to end the 14th. (-.171)
- Kid: Javier Baez (-.307). Javy had just one intentional walk in seven plate appearances. He struck out twice. He tied with Bote for the second largest negative event when he popped out with the bases loaded in the 12th. (-.181)
WPA Play of the Game: Eduardo Escobar batted with one out and a runner on first in the sixth inning. The Cubs were leading 3-1. Escobar homered and tacked six innings of bonus baseball onto the game. (.282)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Ben Zobrist batted with one out and runners on first and third in the 15th inning. Ben launched a double into the corner and then moved to third while the Diamondbacks were trying to throw Albert Almora Jr. out at the plate. (.262). Ben had three of the 10 largest WPA plays in the game (single and an error leading off the 14th (.172) and lead off walk in the 12th (.117))
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
(# = returned to minors)
- Javier Baez 8.5
- Willson Contreras 6
- Ben Zobrist 5.5
- Steve Cishek/Kyle Hendricks -6
- #Carl Edwards Jr. -8
- Kyle Schwarber -9
Up Next: First and foremost, a much needed day off today. Then Tuesday they head to Seattle to face the Mariners. The Mariners, lead by former Cub Scott Servais, have a record of 18-13 on the season. They just dropped the final two games of a four game set with the Rangers that they split. They’ve lost five of seven overall and are only 9-11 in their last 20 after a 9-2 start.
The Cubs will have Cole Hamels on the mound. Cole is 3-0 with a 3.16 ERA in 31⅓ innings of work. Last time out he received a no-decision after throwing 5⅓ innings and allowing three hits, six walks and three runs against a very strong Dodgers lineup. Prior to that, he’d gone three straight starts without a walk and won them all. Cole hasn’t faced the Mariners since 2017 when he was 2-0 and allowed 12 runs in 25 innings of work against them. With a lot of turnover, the Mariners only have a total of 130 plate appearances against Cole. They have an .801 OPS in those 130 plate appearances. Mitch Haniger has only nine of those plate appearances, but he has two of the homers and that equates to a 1.931 OPS. On the other end of the spectrum, Jay Bruce has the most PA against Hamels (38) but only a .642 OPS.
Felix Hernandez is the Mariners starter. Though it feels like he’s been around forever, Felix is still only 33-years-old. He is 1-2 with a 3.91 ERA in 25⅓ innings of work. Last time out he was charged with a loss in San Diego despite allowing only three hits and one walk in seven innings of work. Tough crowd. He struck out eight and the one run was a solo homer. Felix has been around long enough to have made two career starts against the Cubs. He’s allowed four runs in 14 innings of work. He allowed two runs in five innings in a start against the Cubs in 2016 when a good number of these guys were on the team. Still, Ben Zobrist accounts for 48 of the 66 Cubs plate appearances against Hernandez. He has not enjoyed the experience (.425 OPS and 12 strike outs). Hernandez isn’t the same pitcher he once was. Over the last calendar year, he’s just 6-14 with a 5.40 ERA. For his career, right handed hitters have a .641 OPS and lefties a .691.
This should be another winnable game against a Mariners team that wasn’t expected to contend and has come down to Earth a bit after a hot start.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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