Next verse — same as the last. The recipe has been simple for the Cubs. Get a good start, work long at bats and keep the line moving. It’s been effective through most of the first seven games. That recipe has been so effective in the early going that it has covered up the woes of a bullpen that has been so bad that allowing three runs in three innings last night was good for reducing the bullpen’s ERA.
Yu Darvish wasn’t terrible in his first outing and certainly left the game close enough that it was winnable. Perhaps modern baseball has worn me down, but I wasn’t too bothered by that outing. That isn’t to say I wasn’t disappointed. It was lost in the shuffle of the mess that was the second half of the Cubs season (at least on a national scale), but Yu was frankly dominating down the stretch last season. I’d hoped that he’d worked some things out and that he might be in line for a big 2020 season.
Last night he was very good. Of course, this Pirates team was the perfect setup for him to turn in a good start. They aren’t particularly a good team under normal circumstances and they’ve started even more sluggish than their talent level. That said, I will never diminish a good performance, regardless of the opposition. Under normal baseball circumstances, I can point somewhere almost daily where an inferior team or pitcher or lineup over achieved and beat a far superior opponent. That is the nature of baseball and the grind of a long season. Hiccups happen in all of the sports, but the relentless nature of the season. Even if I expected you to be excellent, that doesn’t diminish the accomplishment when you were.
There are already whispers that this season might not reach the finish line. Obviously, I’d understand the reasons for why but that won’t stop me from being disappointed. This team is fun to watch. This mini season format with the DH and only playing teams from the two Central divisions stacks up nicely for the Cubs and for entertainment value in their games. There figure to be plenty of offensive outbursts. There aren’t a lot of high powered pitchers. There really aren’t any dominant pitching staffs. This team has a ton of experience, a good rotation and plenty of bats. This may not be the normal baseball product, but I’m going to enjoy every day of it while it is here.
Game 7, July 31: Cubs 6, Pirates 3 (5-2)
- Superhero: Yu Darvish (.315). Yu took care of business. Six innings, two hits, one walk, no runs, seven strikeouts.
- Hero: Javier Baez (.103). Javy hasn’t gotten off to a very good start at the plate, but he is making little contributions. On Friday, he had just one hit in five at bats. But the one hit was a surprise bunt with runners on first and second and one out. The desperate throw to first was wild and tallied the Cubs first run.
- Sidekick: Jason Heyward (.094). Okay, I’ll admit it. When he went to the plate to face a left-handed pitcher with two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth, I was calling for a right-handed pinch hitter. I thought that moment could be the pivotal point in the game. It was. He came through with a two-run single and Cubs were up 4-0.
- Billy Goat: Kyle Schwarber (-.092). Kyle had a walk and a run scored in four at bats.
- Goat: Willson Contreras (-.051). Willy had a single and a walk in five plate appearances.
- Kid: Ian Happ (-.018). Things have gone well enough for this team in the early going that there are an awful lot of guys showing up in this section who contributed to their wins. This is no exception. Ian had two hits in four at bats. He scored a run.
WPA Play of the Game: Javy’s bunt single and the ensuing defensive throwing error. (.149)
*Pirates Play of the Game: Kyle Schwarber’s third inning strikeout with runners on second and third and only one out. A big out for Trevor Williams to avoid further damage following the Baez play. (.070)
Up Next: Game two of a three game set. Tyler Chatwood makes his second start of the season for the Cubs, looking to follow up his terrific first outing. The Pirates start Mitch Keller. The Cubs are heavily favored to win this one. It would be terrific if they could do that and lock up a third straight series win to start the season.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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