They found a way, one more time. In a game that felt like it might never end, the Cubs finally outlasted the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cubs have struggled with the Brewers so far in 2019, and nothing that happened in this one erased that. But they came away with the win and if they can duplicate that feat A) the season series would be tied at three wins apiece and B) the Cubs would leave town with a two-game lead in the division.
I often think of these games as two sides of a coin. Like one of those paintings where if you tilt your head one way, you see one thing and if you tilt it the other, you’ll see something completely different. For this one, if you tilt your head the one way, you’ll see Milwaukee Brewers pitching stifling Cubs bats for a second straight day. There were at least 20 men on base in this one, nine hits, 10 walks and one hit batter. That’s not horrible over 14⅓ innings. It’s not great, but not horrible. Still, this previously potent Cubs offense managed a total of two runs over the first 23⅓ innings of this series. That is a normal average of less than one run per game. That’s not going to get it done.
But, if you tilt your head the other way, you’ll see Cubs pitching holding an also potent Brewers offense to just one run in 15 innings today. Cubs pitchers did walk nine batters. But they allowed just four hits. That’s a superb showing. The Brewers continue to struggle to string together offense on the road.
This was the kind of game where some of the early heroes are largely forgotten by the end. Cole Hamels will be talked about below for his seven innings of work. But David Bote’s fine base-running and Albert Almora Jr. making contact with a pitch out of the zone but driving it into the gap to score Bote all of the way from first get lost in the shuffle. Without their performances, there is no win.
The Cubs used 19 players in the win. Sometimes it takes nearly the entire roster to get a win in one of these. That’s what it took this time. But it has to feel better for the Cubs than it does for the Brewers who used the same number in a loss.
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 37, May 11: Cubs 2, Brewers 1 (23-14)
- Superhero: Tyler Chatwood (.615). These extra-inning relief appearances are great for stacking WPA. Chatwood’s stacks a little extra because he inherited a runner on first in this one. He induced a double play then went on to throw four scoreless innings and pick up a win. He didn’t allow any hits and struck out seven. The Cubs bullpen threw eight innings of relief and allowed just one hit and six walks.
- Hero: Cole Hamels (.276). Cole deserved a win in this one. He threw seven innings and allowed three hits, three walks and one run. He struck out five.
- Sidekick: Willson Contreras (.163). This one feels like a tough crowd with Willson way down here. He did have two hits in seven at bats and, of course, the walk off home run to end it. He was also involved in the second biggest play of the game by WPA. That one was a double play he hit into with runners on first and second and no outs in the 11th. (-.187)
- Billy Goat: Jason Heyward (-.259). Jason had a triple in the first inning. He was then retired six straight times. His big contribution on the downside was a line drive that was snagged in the 10th with a runner on second, no outs, and turned into a double play. (-.173)
- Goat: Addison Russell (-.213). Addison came into this one late and struck out in his only two at bats. One of those was with the bases loaded and two outs in the 13th. (-.156)
- Kid: David Bote (-.117). This one feels exceptionally harsh. Without his run scored, there would have been no extras. David actually had a hit and two walks in six plate appearances. There was no signature moment in this one. He did hit into a double play, but this was basically just that the outs outweighed the times he got on.
WPA Play of the Game: No doubt which play ends up here. Willson Contreras absolutely demolished a solo homer to end this one with one out in the 15th. (.423)
*Brewers Play of the Game: 187 is urban slang for murder. Willson murdered a potential game-ending Cubs rally in the 11th when he hit into a double play with runners on first and second with no outs. (-.187)
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
- Willson Contreras 10
- Jon Lester/Jose Quintana 7
- Carl Edwards Jr. -8
- Yu Darvish -9
- Albert Almora Jr. -11
Up Next: The Cubs will seek their 12th win in 14 games on Sunday night. Meanwhile, the Brewers will be looking for an eighth win in their last nine. Two red-hot teams also play for bragging rights and continue to battle for control of the National League Central.
The Cubs will send Jon Lester to the mound. Jon needs to throw six innings and minimize any damage to take his place among the league’s ERA leaders. Right now, he is 2-1 with a 1.41 ERA in 32 innings on the year. To qualify, he needs one inning per team game. Jon is coming off of a no-decision against the Marlins. He threw six innings and allowed only two unearned runs on eight hits and no walks. He struck out six. He pitched against the Brewers twice last year. He was 1-1 and allowed three runs in 11⅔ innings of work. Current Brewers have 137 plate appearances against Jon. Lorenzo Cain has the most plate appearances against Jon (27, .946 OPS). Ryan Braun is a Brewer who has excelled against Jon (23, 1.028) and Yasmani Grandal one who has struggled (11, .455)
Jhoulys Chacin starts for the Brewers. The 31-year-old righty is 3-3 with a 5.03 ERA in 39⅓ innings of work. Last time out he got a no decision against the Nationals. He threw five innings and allowed three hits and two walks. He allowed two runs and struck out three before leaving after having thrown 98 pitches. He was 2-2 in five starts against the Cubs in 2018. He threw 28⅓ innings with a 1.59 ERA. Chacin has been much tougher against right-handed hitters (.643 OPS) than lefties (.769). The Cubs have 142 plate appearances against Jhoulys. Anthony Rizzo has the most plate appearances and the most success (26, 1.150). One Cub who has struggled is Jason Heyward (22, .589). Cubs as a whole have just a .593 OPS against him.
Something has to give, Chacin hasn’t been pitching very well in 2019, but he’s done extremely well against the Cubs. Hopefully the offense will break out and Lester will continue to sparkle and the Cubs can keep their streak of not losing a series alive.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Albert Almora Jr.
Other (please leave your suggestion in the comments below)