Certainly, the Cubs are now reaching the point where they are fortunate to keep winning. That’s no knock on the starting pitching. Tyler Chatwood was fantastic again Saturday night in his second start of the season. Nor is it a knock on the hitters. Four runs isn’t something to throw a parade for, but it was just enough. Obviously, allowing multiple runs in the ninth inning every night is not a path to victory.
Last night, it was Kyle Ryan charged with three runs in the ninth. Rowan Wick was on the mound when the last run scored. I don’t want to be harsh on Wick. Officially, he retired two of the three batters he faced. But a ninth-inning walk putting the tying run on base is far from ideal. Ryan’s velocity was down, possibly way down. That’s rarely a good sign. Hopefully he is okay. Certainly, the Cubs don’t need injuries on top of the already tumultuous bullpen situation.
Fortunately, the Cubs had a four-run cushion heading to the ninth. For the foreseeable future, the Cubs have no real choice but to grind even with a lead and try to just keeping adding on to any lead they might have. In this bizarre season, there are many less options than usual to try to apply gauze and bandages to the pen while they seek help. The minor leagues aren’t operating, so no one is getting game action. There are options in South Bend that could be looked to, but there are no sure fire options there either. The waiver wire is pretty barren as everyone is in this same situation, at least as far as scarcity. The Cubs did add a retread reliever who hasn’t had a good season in several years in Cody Allen.
Maybe eventually some of the lesser teams will be willing to part with a piece or two. Assuming some of these teams are willing to turn their attention towards next year, some might be pleased if you just sent money their way. So creativity might yield a piece or two.
Regardless, there will be no quick fixes. Fortunately, the Cubs have already run out to a 6-2 record. They already have a two-game lead in the division. How soon is too early to be looking at that? In a 162-game season, this wouldn’t mean a whole lot. And certainly, even if 60 games end up being played, it’s still early.
Game 8, August 1: Cubs 4, Pirates 3 (6-2)
- Superhero: Tyler Chatwood (.296). 6⅔ innings, three hits, two walks, no runs, 11 strikeouts.
- Hero: Jeremy Jeffress (.196). 1⅓ innings, no hits, no walks, no runs, one strikeout.
- Sidekick: Ian Happ (.156). Two hits (double, homer) in four at bats, one RBI, one run scored.
- Billy Goat: Kyle Ryan (-.082). Four batters faced, three hits, three runs.
- Goat/Kid: (tie) David Bote/Nico Hoerner (-.075). Bote was hitless in four at bats. Hoerner actually drew two walks in four plate appearances, but lands here because he failed to get a runner from third with one out in the second.
WPA Play of the Game: Jeremy Jeffress inherited the bases loaded in the seventh inning with two outs. He got a ground out to snuff the scoring opportunity. (.119)
*Pirates Play of the Game: Mitch Keller faced Kyle Schwarber with runners on first and second and one out in the first inning. He induced a double play ball to stop the Cubs in their tracks. (.085).
Up Next: The Cubs will aim for a sweep this afternoon. Jon Lester makes his second start of the year for the Cubs. Steven Brault will be the opposition in this match-up of lefties. Once again, the Vegas odds are heavily favoring the Cubs. The Cubs are in one of the better parts of their schedule right now with four games to follow this against the last-place Royals. Hopefully, they can just keep stringing together victories.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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