The Cubs continue to roll to start this 2020 season. No one knows for certain if this journey will reach the end in this pandemic-shortened season. What we do know is that the Cubs have rolled through their first 15 games. Last night was no exception. The Cubs beat the Indians 7-2, sweeping the two-game series in Cleveland.
An Indians team that hadn’t allowed more than four runs in any of their first 17 games allowed seven in each of the two games. Certainly, the Indians are dealing with some inner turmoil following two of their players breaking quarantine on a weekend trip to Chicago to face the White Sox. But, that should take nothing away from the grinding approach of the Cubs offense and the continued dominance of the starting rotation.
This season is going to be weird in so many ways. Normally at 12-3 we’d have to be saying that these things balance out over the course of a year. Certainly, nothing is over based on what happens over the first 10 percent of the season. But that would describe a normal season. In this season scheduled for 60 games, this is 25 percent of the season. Of course, even at that no one will struggle to think of many teams that have gotten out to good starts over the first two month of the season only to fall well short of the post season. It certainly can happen.
The difference could be that not only is this team 12-3, but the rest of the NL Central is sitting under .500 at this point. The Cubs already have a five-game lead in the division. And oh yeah, that is over the Cardinals who have only played five games. If that team is going to get anywhere close to 60 games, they are going to have to play an endless string of doubleheaders. If this were some kind of baseball simulation, it’s possible to imagine some wild things you could do trying to get three or four innings out of starters and then locking the game down with the back end of the bullpen. But this isn’t a simulation. In a year where things like day of game travel are part of the equation, the Cardinals are going to face one heck of a gauntlet.
The Reds are a team on the rise, but one must question if they have the experience yet. It is cliche to say that a team has to learn how to win. But then we did see the Cubs go into Cincinnati and the Reds have trouble winning some close games first hand. That was following two games just before that series where the Reds bullpen lost games late. That team right now seems to be talented, but missing a key piece or two to push it into contention.
That leaves the Brewers. I’ve long respected Craig Counsell as one of the best managers in baseball. I appreciate that he has no attachment to conventional baseball. If he trusts his pen but not his starters, he might go once through the order even with a starter who breezed through the order. He isn’t afraid to go through the season with the accelerator buried to the floor. The Brewers have chased down the Cubs on what seemed like a fairly insurmountable lead before and that was just two years ago.
But, these Brewers have a host of new players. I don’t believe these Brewers are those Brewers. Again, I’m not dismissing Counsell and what he can do to pull a team together. I’m just suggesting that he may not have as much fire power to work with as he did two years ago. Will Brewers management find a way to make a splash in a situation where A) they appear to be well off the pace and B) again, no one is certain if this season will see it’s conclusion and C) there are significantly diminished revenue streams for a team that doesn’t exactly swim in them to begin with.
This is all stacking up very well for the Cubs. The Cubs come home 12-3 and set to play 10 straight home games, assuming the schedule holds. They’ll play four against those Brewers, and then the Cardinals and White Sox for three each. If the Cubs win six, they figure to be in a very strong position. If they can win seven, it will really push them into a dominant position. In a fan-less environment, home field advantage isn’t the same. But, going home to sleep in your own bed has to be a real comfort in a world where people are worried about public interactions.
Game 15, August 12: Cubs 7, Indians 2 (12-3)
- Superhero: Kyle Hendricks (.276). Hendricks threw six innings, allowed seven hits and no walks. He allowed one run and struck out five.
- Hero: Anthony Rizzo (.146). Yesterday, I saw some people talking about Anthony struggling. He responded with a homer among two hits and a walk in five plate appearances. He scored twice.
- Sidekick: David Bote (.139). Bote had a two-run single and a walk in five plate appearances.
- Billy Goat: Willson Contreras (-.106). Willson was hitless in three at bats before getting tossed from the game.
- Goat: Kris Bryant (-.080). Bryant had just one hit in five at bats. But that one was nice to see after he appeared to hurt his wrist earlier. He then homered his next time up.
- Kid: Ian Happ (-.056). Even on a hitless night, Ian contributed at the plate on his birthday. He walked twice and scored two runs in five plate appearances.
WPA Play of the Game: David Bote stepped to the plate with two outs in the fifth inning. There were runners on second and third. He delivered a key two-run single to put the Cubs ahead 4-0. (.118)
*Indians Play of the Game: In the fourth inning with runners on second and third and one out, Carlos Carrasco struck out Jason Kipnis for the second out, temporarily preserving the 1-0 game. (.078)
Heroes and Goats Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)
- Ian Happ/Jon Lester 7
- Kyle Hendricks 6
- Willson Contreras/Anthony Rizzo -6
- Kris Bryant -10
Up Next: The Cubs come home to start a four game set with the Milwaukee Brewers. Yu Darvish will start for the Cubs and Brett Anderson for the Brewers. The odds makers are squarely on the Cubs side in this one to keep rolling. Let’s hope they are right.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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