When Joe Maddon got to Chicago, he reminded us of Meat Loaf’s once popular song, “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.” It was as true then as it is now. Sure, that Saturday game was a long, sloppy mess with a disappointing end. But book-ended around it were two very satisfying wins.
It’s also not shocking that two very strong starts produced wins and one suspect start produced a loss. Baseball has changed a lot through the years and certainly a good start is no guarantee of win, but the odds sure do multiply in a hurry. Tyler Chatwood had one of his finest starts as a Cub. For that I tip my hat to him. I had to chuckle a bit during the Cubs telecast on Sunday. It was said that Chatwood won a spot in the rotation. I’ll be fair, I didn’t really follow spring baseball at all, but I’m pretty sure Chatwood returned to the rotation largely by default. He was a starter the Cubs had who wasn’t starting. When Cole Hamels wasn’t re-signed, there was pretty much going to be an open slot. Sure, Alec Mills could possibly have unseated him. Well, that is until Jose Quintana was injured and Mills joined Chatwood in the rotation.
Hopefully this wasn’t a one off. It doesn’t matter if Chatwood earned a job or was handed one. It would be awesome though if he solidified one. Let’s be clear, in 2020 the bar isn’t necessarily seven innings of two runs or less. Getting through five innings most times and six many times while keeping the team in the game is more or less where teams set the bar these days. If Chatwood can accomplish that, it will be a big boost to these Cubs and amplify their options as this mini-season wears on.
Equally encouraging Sunday was the Cubs offense busting out. The Milwaukee Brewers consistently execute game plans as well as anyone in the National League. Pushing nine runs across against them is not something to be completely dismissed by a day with the wind blowing out. It was great to see that five run rally yesterday that did not include a single home run. As a graphic pointed out on Saturday during the game, the Cubs (and Brewers) relied an awful lot on the home run for their scoring in 2019. Of course, most teams did and another team near the top were the Dodgers. That certainly didn’t stop them from reaching the playoffs as one of the favorites.
The Cubs looked pretty good from what I saw over the weekend. In a season where all 30 teams started either 2-1 or 1-2, pretty good is probably going to give you a fighting chance to be playing for a championship at the end. This is certainly not the juggernaut that was the 2016 Cubs. But maybe, just maybe, there is some fun to be had following this team. That would be a pleasant departure from the product we saw the last month or so of 2019.
Game 3, July 26: Cubs 9, Brewers 1 (2-1)
- Superhero: Tyler Chatwood (.250). Six innings, three hits, two walks, one run, eight strike outs. One win.
- Hero: Kyle Schwarber (.108). Kyle appears to have picked right back up where he left off 2019, on a tear. Kyle added a double, a walk and two runs scored to his Saturday homer.
- Sidekick: Willson Contreras (.078). A bit of a mixed bag. Two hits, two RBI, two runs, two strikeouts. Though it was a good mix, the two hits were a double at the start of the five run rally and a long solo homer.
- Billy Goat: Kris Bryant (-.045). Kris finally had a single in his last at bat, getting his first hit of the year. Earlier he’d struck out three times in four at bats. He doesn’t appear to be seeing the ball great yet to my eye.
- Goat: Casey Sadler (-.031). Tough first Cubs appearance. He gets a goat spot after walking two of the three batters he faced.
- Kid: Javier Baez (-.030). Javy did have a (four pitch) walk in five plate appearances and he scored a run. He struck out once.
WPA Play of the Game: Willson Contreras followed a Kyle Schwarber walk with an RBI double in the fourth inning to open the flood gates. (.109)
*Brewers Play of the Game: Orlando Arcia came through with a two-out RBI-single in the fifth inning off of Tyler Chatwood (.043). At the time, that cut the deficit to 5-1.
Up Next: The Cubs head to Cincinnati for four games. The Cubs will send Jon Lester to the mound and the Reds counter with Wade Miley in a duel of lefties. The odds makers mostly favor the Cubs in this one. Let’s hope they are right and the Cubs can push out to a 3-1 start.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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