The Cubs returned to Chicago, though they can’t yet say they are at home. With two games on the south side before the break, they found themselves at Guaranteed Rate Field. That one still just doesn’t really roll off of the tongue...
For the second time this year, the Cubs beat Lucas Giolito. No sarcasm intended, it’s a shame if the Cubs cost him a Cy Young. The kid has had a great season and it’s a good story. That said, we’re not here for the good stories as much as the Cubs wins, so we’ll take ‘em any way we can get ’em.
Jon Lester rose to the challenge once again and picked up another victory. It’s funny that the Cubs have both Jon Lester (gets a decision basically every time he pitches), and Yu Darvish (doesn’t get decisions). Hopefully, both of them will pick up plenty of wins after the All-Star break and a few extra days rest.
The Cubs offense wasn’t quite as sharp as it was on Thursday, but then strong opposition will do that. Still, they produced one big inning and then rode that to victory. Pretty much everyone who played contributed to the victory with only Jason Heyward failing to reach base. Willson Contreras was the only other Cub without a hit. We’ll talk about both of them later as well as Steve Cishek who got a hard-luck podium appearance in this one, despite retiring both of the hitters he faced. The Cubs defense was just a little bit shaky and it cost the Cubs a couple of unearned runs and an extended second inning.
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 89, July 6: Cubs 6 at White Sox 3 (47-42)
- Superhero/Hero(tie): Jon Lester/Kyle Schwarber (.097). Jon threw 6⅓ innings and allowed six hits, three walks and three runs (one earned). He struck out three. Kyle had only one hit in five at bats and struck out twice. But the hit was a double and it drove in two runs.
- Sidekick(tie): Javier Baez/Kris Bryant (.081). Javy had two doubles, two runs, and two RBI in five at bats. Kris had two hits, including a double, an RBI and a walk in five plate appearances.
- Billy Goat: Jason Heyward (-.100). Hitless in four at bats, hit into a double play and struck out twice.
- Goat: Willson Contreras (-.067). Just one walk in five plate appearances.
- Kid: Steve Cishek (.018). Lands here despite retiring the only two batters he faced. One of the two outs scored a run.
WPA Play of the Game: Kyle Schwarber (.150). This is how Kyle landed up top with only the one hit. It was 1-1 in the fifth inning when Lucas Giolito suddenly lost the strike zone, walking three straight hitters to start the inning. That brought Kyle up with the bases loaded and no outs in a tie game. He doubled and because there were no outs, WPA takes into account the likelihood of a big inning (which indeed followed).
*White Sox Play of the Game: Jose Abreu singled with a runner on second and two outs in the bottom of the third. The White Sox were trailing 1-0 at the time. (.112)
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
- Anthony Rizzo 16
- Kris Bryant 14.5
- Willson Contreras 10
- *Carl Edwards Jr. -9
- Jason Heyward -13
- Yu Darvish -14
Up Next: One more game stands between the Cubs and the All-Star break. For 22 Cubs, plus a ton of Iowa Cubs with MLB experience, this is a short week due to the All-Star games. For all of the struggles of the last few weeks, if the Cubs can win their third straight game, they’ll enter the break in first place. After the break, they’ll have nine straight games at home, divided evenly among three series. After the second series, they get a day off. They won’t play more than six straight games until the end of July. From July 30 to August 11, they’ll play 13 straight. So the schedule is quite a bit more kind for the next little while.
The Cubs will be looking for a third straight win and a win in the season series. The Sox will be trying to avoid a third straight loss and can still split the season series. The Cubs send Kyle Hendricks to the mound. Kyle is 7-6 with a 3.45 ERA in 91⅓ innings. Over his last seven, he is 4-2 with a 4.17 ERA in 41 innings of work. He’s lost his last two starts, sandwiched around an injury. Last time out, he lost at Pittsburgh in a rain shortened start. He threw three innings and allowed four hits, one walk and two runs. Kyle pitched twice against the White Sox and was 1-1 with five runs (four earned) allowed in 13⅔ innings. He won the one start on the south side. Current White Sox have 90 plate appearances against Kyle with a .717 OPS. Jon Jay has the most PA (15) but only a .624 OPS. Jose Abreu has been quite a bit better with a 1.155 OPS in 14 PA.
The White Sox will have Ivan Nova on the hill. Ivan is 3-7 with a 5.92 ERA in 94⅓ innings on the season. He’s lost his last two start and is 0-3 with a 4.50 ERA over his last seven starts. He pitched against the Cubs on June 18 and took a no decision despite allowing only one run on four hits and two walks in five innings of work. The last two seasons, Nova is 2-1 with a 3.49 ERA against the Cubs in 28⅓ innings of work across five starts.
The 32-year-old right-hander, is getting hit hard against both right-handed hitters (.878) and left-handed (.930). He’s getting hit particularly hard at home (.997). Current Cubs have 175 plate appearances against Nova with a .757 OPS. Jason Heyward leads the way (24 PA, .917). Javier Baez has struggled (23, .667). Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber each have 19 PA (.974 and .993 respectively). There is very little reason why the Cubs shouldn’t pound Nova and take a three-game winning streak to the break.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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