Sigh. That was a relief. The Cubs avoided losing their seventh straight game for the first time since 2014. Let’s leave that kind of mark alone.
This was not pretty. Jason Heyward’s day was a thing of beauty. Victor Caratini’s day at the plate was fantastic. Cole Hamels finding a second gear after a rough first two innings was a breath of fresh air. Steve Cishek’s efficiency in the ninth inning was like a breath of fresh air. The Cubs forcing Brewers pitchers to throw over 200 pitches was relentless and felt like 2016’s Cubs.
This offense is turbocharged. I hope they can keep it going, because they are fun to watch. They are going to cause some sleepless nights among opposing pitchers. Willson Contreras had arguably been the Cubs’ best hitter through the first seven games of the season and the Cubs plated 14 runs with him on the bench.
There were plenty of things wrong in this game, Kris Bryant has had a rough week at the plate. I suspect Randy Rosario isn’t long for the major leagues. But I’m largely going to leave that alone. The Cubs win. Holy cow. Baby steps. The Reds lost and now the Cubs no longer share the worst record in baseball. That should never have had to be something to be celebrated.
The Cubs are 2-0 when they score 12+ runs and 0-6 when they don’t. That’s not a sustainable thing. At least, I don’t think it is. Hopefully Kyle Hendricks can match the performance of Hamels and the Cubs can at least get their starting pitching back in line.
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 8, April 6: Cubs 14 at Brewers 8 (2-6)
- Superhero: Jason Heyward (.360). Sometimes WPA gets it dead right. Jason Heyward is the player of the game. Two home runs (three in two days), three hits overall, two stolen bases, two walks. Heyward had never had two home runs in a Cub uniform and had never stolen a base while hitting two home runs. Of course, he did have two homers in a game against the Cubs once...
- Hero: Victor Caratini (.200). Vic would like to stake a claim to the best hitting backup catcher in baseball. Whoever your answer is, look up how many times they’ve reached base five times in a game. Vic and J-Hey were a perfect 10 for 10 reaching base, hit three homers, drove in six, and scored five. Holy cow. (Vic had three hits, two walks, three RBI and two runs).
- Sidekick: Cole Hamels (.086). So much of the offense was driven by the previous two that Cole holds onto the third and final Hero spot. He threw six innings and allowed six hits, NO walks, two runs, one homer and struck out five. Joe let him throw 110 pitches at a time when it was huge to get six innings out of a starter.
- Billy Goat: Allen Webster (-.099). It didn’t look like too bad of a pitch to me. But Ryan Braun has entered the nightmares of one more Cub pitcher. Shake it off Allen. He faced two batters, retired one and allowed a three-run homer.
- Goat: Kris Bryant (-.079). I don’t worry about Kris per se. But he hasn’t seen the ball well this week at all. That’s nine strikeouts in his last four games now. This offense is clicking without a whole lot of contribution from Kris.
- Honorable Mention: Cole Hamels (-.035). Cole did drive in a run with a sacrifice fly. He was hitless in his other two at bats.
- Kid: Daniel Descalso (-.023). Descalso did draw two walks in six plate appearances and was robbed of a hit at least once.
WPA Play of the Game: Jason Heyward (.204). After the Brewers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after one, Jason came to the plate with a man on and two outs in the second. He hit the first of two homers. (.204)
*Brewers Play of the Game: Yasmani Grandal doubled with a runner on first and no outs in the second inning. (.117).
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3
(# = sent to minors)
- Willson Contreras 8
- Ben Zobrist 5
- Three Players with 4
- Five Players with -3
- #Carl Edwards Jr. -8
Up Next: The two teams meet for the final game of a three game series. Each team has one one of the first two so winner draws first blood in what should be an intense season series. Kyle Hendricks is on the mound for the Cubs. Kyle is 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA after his first start. You may recall that the team made six errors behind the Cubs in that one. Kyle typically doesn’t hit his full stride until some time in July, but I’m still hoping he can keep the momentum from tonight’s Cole Hamels quality start. Kyle is 8-5 with a 3.01 ERA in 19 career starts against the Brewers. He’s held their hitters to a line of .238/.280/.339. To be fair, the talent level of this year’s Brewers team is quite a bit higher than some of those teams in there.
Zach Davies will start for the Brewers. He has a 0-0 record and a 3.60 ERA after his first start of the year. It seems like Davies has been around forever, but he’s only 26 years old. He’s done fairly well against the Cubs given that his career actually started in 2015 and has thus only come against some pretty good Cubs teams. He is 5-5 with a 3.52 ERA against the Cubs. Cub hitters have a line of .253/.306/.389 against Davies.
Let’s go get back to back wins for the first (of many) time this year.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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