All’s well that ends well. The Cubs won their fifth straight and continue to pace the National League. It has certainly helped to play a couple of lesser teams over the last five games. The Cubs were not sharp enough over those five games to have been likely to win five straight against elite competition. Fortunately, there is no standard for that. The only opponent you can beat is the one in the other dugout on a given day. They’ve managed to do that for five straight now and in nine of 11.
Nothing is over after 11 games, not even in a short season. But, the Cubs are building a nice cushion for themselves that will help when this team inevitably has its struggles. Even in this abbreviated season, I think it is early to look too much at overall team stats. That is especially true given that some teams have played significantly less games than others due to cancellations. But, the Cubs are scoring a good number of runs. They are also getting good to great starts day in and day out. Scoring handfuls of runs most nights and getting a competitive start will give you a chance to win most games.
Last night it was Kyle Hendricks. He’s now managed the Goldilocks of three starts. One was dominant. One was subpar. One was decidedly average. On a good team, a pitcher with that breakdown might win 15 or more games. The offensive star was Jason Heyward. His two-run homer got the Cubs on the board last night. Then he was on base for the Jason Kipnis two-run homer later. Willson Contreras provided what turned out to be a huge insurance run with his late homer.
Jeremy Jeffress threw another scoreless inning in the eighth. That’s when David Ross tried to get Craig Kimbrel back on the proverbial horse. I remain torn on that decision. I tip my cap that he did so on a very short leash. I understand that a healthy, productive Kimbrel makes the Cubs a significantly better team. But, every win is precious. We’ve heard over the last couple of years that the Cubs sometimes lacked killer instinct. They’d take two out of three when maybe they could have swept. In this short season, every game matters. Is Kimbrel better for the one strikeout he did record last night? Or does he get even further into his head for getting pulled? Certainly no reliever benefits if he is always looking over his shoulder for the manager to be coming to the mound to get him. I just don’t know for sure what the right answer, the right balance is there.
But, the Cubs won. They leave Chicago having swept a five-game homestand. They head for Missouri to continue the home and home set with the Royals. Then they meet a different type of test. Heading to St. Louis to face a team that has had an active COVID-19 outbreak. This Cubs team has been very diligent in following the safety guidelines. It’s going to be even more important to do so facing a team that has players who may have been exposed. We live in strange times.
Game 11, August 4: Cubs 5, Royals 4 (9-2)
- Superhero: Kyle Hendricks (.230). Seven innings, seven hits, no walks, two runs, three strikeouts.
- Hero: Jason Kipnis (.196). Two-run homer and a walk in four plate appearances.
- Sidekick: Jason Heyward (.185). Two-run homer and a single, two runs scored in four plate appearances.
- Billy Goat: Kris Bryant (-.105). Kris had one walk in four plate appearances.
- Goat: Javier Baez (-.084). Javy was hitless in four at bats.
- Kid: Craig Kimbrel (-.075). He faced three batters, allowed a single, a double and two runs scored. He struck out one.
WPA Play of the Game: Jason Kipnis hit a two-out, two-run homer in the fourth inning to put the Cubs up 4-1. (.181)
*Royals Play of the Game: Whit Merrifield singled with a runner on first and no outs in the fifth inning with the Royals trailing 4-1. (.095)
Heroes and Goats Cumulative Standings: (top 3/bottom 3)
- Tyler Chatwood 6
- Jeremy Jeffress, Alec Mills, Jason Kipnis 5
- Craig Kimbrel -4
- Anthony Rizzo -5
- Kris Bryant -6
Up Next: The series moves to Kansas City for two more with the Royals. Yu Darvish makes the start for the Cubs. He’ll be looking to build off his last start which was terrific. The Royals are starting Kris Bubic. Once again Vegas pretty heavily favors the Cubs to win in this one. Let’s hope they are right and the Cubs can make it six straight.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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