The Cubs rallied from a 5-1 deficit and won 6-5. That should be the most interesting thing about Saturday’s game. But I’ll start with an oddity first. The Cubs won 6-5. They’ve won six in a row. They’ve won three of those six games by the score of 6-5. There have been 22 games so far in the major leagues in 2019 that ended with a score 6-5. The Cubs have three of them in their last five games. The Cubs and Mariners have each won three such games this year. Totally meaningless, but a fun little quirk.
So that 1-6 start to the season is a distant memory. Like the remnants of that horrible nightmare you had before you woke up. You remember bits and pieces of it, but over time you slowly just forget it. One of the biggest culprits of that 1-6 start was a bullpen that most of Cubs nation was nervous about heading into the season. It makes it a little easier to forget that part when the bullpen throws five shutout innings, a big contributor to this sixth straight win.
Of course, another oddity of the Cubs first 30 games of 2019 is that they’ve already had a six game winning streak and a six game losing streak. To be sure, not every team in baseball will have even one such streak. So it’s a bit odd to have already done both within the first 30 games.
The Cubs woke up today with a chance to take over sole possession of first place in the National League Central. That didn’t seem like something possible after such a slow start. But this Cubs team is enormously talented. There are a number of guys who can contribute. Not all of them are even on the current roster. The Cubs have multiple players with World Series rings and one with an All-Star game nod on his resume playing in Iowa. There are still some very talented players on the injured list. This team is going to keep adding talent as the season goes on. This team is playing with a ton of confidence and that kind of confidence can make the difference on a day like Saturday.
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 30, May 4: Cubs 6, Cardinals 5 (18-12)
- Superhero: Taylor Davis (.267). This kid only had one hit in three at bats and he ends up in the top spot. Of course, a game-tying grand slam will have that effect. Heck of a first career homer.
- Hero: Javier Baez (.239). Javy had two hits in four at bats and two runs scored. He started the Cubs fourth inning rally with an infield hit. He capped the scoring with the solo shot that provided the margin of victory. Javy not only didn’t slow down after his near-MVP season, but he’s sped it up. He’s on pace for 59 homers. You tell him he can’t do it. This is also seven straight games in which Javy has appeared in Heroes and Goats.
- Sidekick: Kyle Ryan (.191). It looks pretty mundane in the box. Kyle threw one inning and allowed one hit, no walks, no runs, no strikeouts. He was summoned with one out and the bases loaded in the fifth in a tie game. He retired those two hitters, then went back out for the sixth and retired a third straight hitter before allowing a single. That is Ryan’s first appearance in Heroes and Goats and it was an important one.
- Billy Goat: Yu Darvish (-.439). Yu didn’t have it on Saturday. He allowed six hits, five walks and four runs in four plus innings of work. He did strikeout four.
- Goat: Anthony Rizzo (-.119). Rizzo’s hot streak took a pause on Saturday with four hitless at bats. He’s probably just saving his 200th career homer for prime time Sunday night.
- Kid: Albert Almora Jr. (-.103). Almora was hitless in three at bats. He struck out once. Albert has six hits in 13 at bats against the Diamondbacks this year. Against the rest of the league, he has 12 hits in 64 at bats. That’s good for a .188 average.
WPA Play of the Game: Taylor Davis stepped to the plate with the Cubs trailing 5-1 in the fourth inning and the bases loaded. With one swing of the bat he tied the game. (.302)
*Cardinals Play of the Game: Michael Wacha singled with the bases loaded and one out in the fourth, scoring two runs to give the Cardinals a 4-1 lead. (.118)
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
(# = returned to minors)
- Javier Baez 10.5
- Jon Lester 7
- Willson Contreras 6
- #Carl Edwards Jr. -8
- Albert Almora Jr. -8.5
- Yu Darvish -9
Up Next: The Cubs will go for a seventh straight win on Sunday. If they can accomplish that feat, they will pass the Cardinals for first place. The Cardinals will be hoping to snap a three game skid and avoid losing four in a row after winning five in a row.
The Cubs will have Jose Quintana on the hill. Jose is 3-1 with a 3.48 ERA in 33⅔ innings of work so far in 2019. In his last start, he threw 5⅔ innings and allowed five hits and three runs. He was victimized by two home runs in an otherwise very strong start. He hasn’t lost in exactly a month when he was rocked in his first start of the season in Milwaukee. Jose faced the Cardinals four times in 2018 and struggled against them. He was 1-3 and allowed 13 runs (10 earned) in 19⅔ innings of work. The good news to be found in there is that the one win was in Chicago. In that one, he went seven innings, allowed six hits, four walks and two runs while striking out six. Let’s see if the can repeat that one.
Current Cardinals have 148 career plate appearances against Jose. That is lead by Dexter Fowler with 24 plate appearances and a 1.289 OPS. At least, that’s the most plate appearances against Q. The highest OPS is Paul Goldschmidt who in just nine plate appearances has two homers and a 1.931 OPS. By and large, current Cardinals have hit Q very hard. This will be a tough one, but he’s been running hot so hopefully he can keep it going.
Adam Wainright is the Cardinals starter. The 37-year-old right-hander is 3-2 with a 3.73 ERA on the season. He’s won his last two starts including a 6⅓-inning start in Washington the last time out. He allowed six hits, two walks and two runs (both on solo homers) in that one. He struck out five. Adam only faced the Cubs twice last year. He was 1-1 with five runs allowed in 10 innings of work. Both starts were in Chicago.
Current Cubs have 244 career plate appearances against the lifetime Cardinal. Anthony Rizzo has the most plate appearances at 57 (.667 OPS). Wainwright was a good pitcher for a very long time and there aren’t a lot of great numbers among Cub hitters against him. But he’s not the same pitcher he once was. So far in 2019, Adam is getting crushed by left-handed hitters (1.057 OPS) while fairing very well against right-handed hitters (.628). Don’t be surprised if Joe loads up on lefties in this one.
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