Yeah, so it was door number two. I told you yesterday that there were two ways to look at Friday night’s loss. Door number was essentially, “no big deal” as they came up close. Door number two was essentially, “you sure hate to lose to them.” Now the Cubs have come up short twice in a row to the Brewers, losing two in a row for the first time in 2020.
Given the way that this wacky season is constructed there is a fairly decent chance that every time you lose you are losing to a division foe. Those losses tend to hurt the most. The Cubs still have the best record in baseball, though that’s getting closer. They also have a comfortable lead in the division, though that just tightened up a bit (also thanks in part to the Cardinals returning to action and sweeping a doubleheader from the crosstown White Sox).
These two losses were still painful. Sure, there are readily available excuses that have some merit. Their Friday starter was scratched. In the reality of a season that started in July, the Cubs went from their fourth starter to their fifth as a result and then the fifth to their sixth. But in the larger reality of what would have been a normal season, that is actually more like fifth to sixth and then seventh starter. As in any normal reality, Jose Quintana would have been part of this rotation.
But, the reality is for two straight days the Cubs just haven’t come through in enough situations. There is generally still a lot of grinding at bats. In both games, there was a rally strung together on the contributions of many. But in both games, they just didn’t execute enough. I virtually never watch baseball if the Cubs aren’t one of the two teams on the field. So I don’t see a large sample size of anyone obviously. Craig Counsell seems to always make the right move against the Cubs. And his players really execute a plan against the Cubs. Even early on Saturday, the Cubs got to Brewers starter Adrian Houser. He was very much on the ropes through two innings. But, he was able to steady the ship and get through five innings when it looked like he might have trouble even finishing four. In a game that went 10 innings and was tight the whole way, that was a big boost for Counsell.
If the Cubs can win on Sunday, then the Brewers didn’t really do any serious damage and saw four more games come off the calendar, particularly if the White Sox can find a way to take one game this weekend against a depleted Cardinals roster. For a team that fancies itself as a playoff contender, that doesn’t seem a lot to ask. But Cardinals pitchers completed stifled Sox bats yesterday. Then again, I think most of us remember what it was like to have a lineup comprised almost entirely of young aggressive hitters. Some really awesome days and some really hard to watch games.
Game 18, August 15: Brewers 6, Cubs 5; 10 innings (13-5)
- Super Hero: Steven Souza Jr. (.276). A gigantic game-tying solo homer in the eighth inning helped propel this one to extra innings.
- Hero: Anthony Rizzo (.145). Anthony had a huge day at the plate with three hits in five at bats. He had a solo homer in the first and an RBI double in the second.
- Sidekick: Dan Winkler (.112). Winkler threw two scoreless innings late allowing only a single hit. The Cubs pen was charged with only two runs in 6⅔ innings of relief.
- Billy Goat: Jeremy Jeffress (-.262). He worked a scoreless ninth, but then allowed his first hits and run of the year under modified baseball rules in the tenth.
- Goat: Javier Baez (-.195). Baez continues to struggle at the plate. He’ll surely turn it soon, but until he does, he probably shouldn’t be batting third. With five more hitless at bats Saturday, that’s now 0-10 over the two days. He struck out two more times and that is six in two days.
- Kid: Willson Contreras (-.153). Willy had just one walk in five plate appearances. It might be time to shake up the lineup. The Cubs right-handed hitters have been struggling.
WPA Play of the Game: Avisail Garcia doubled leading off the tenth inning against Jeffress. Because of modified baseball rules, that’s an RBI double and thus counts by WPA as basically a home run and a double combined. (.381)
*Cubs Play of the Game: The Souza pinch homer with two out in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game. (.327)
Heroes and Goats Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)
- Ian Happ 9
- Jon Lester/Yu Davish 7
- Nico Hoerner -5-5
- Willson Contreras -7
- Kris Bryant -10
Up Next: The final game of the four-game set is this afternoon. Jon Lester makes the start for the Cubs. Jon has been very good so far this season. Josh Lindblom will pitch for the Brewers. The odds-makers have the Cubs as a solid favorite in this one. Let’s hope they are right and the Cubs can avoid their first series loss of the season.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Steven Souza Jr.