Baseball can be cruel. I’ve often referred to it like the old Peanuts comic strip. The one where Lucy would be holding the football for Charlie Brown to kick it only to move it just as he’s going to kick the ball with Charlie invariably landing hard on his butt and trying to understand what happened. Is it weird to anyone besides me that Charlie Brown had two names on the comic strip and everyone else just one? I mean sure, he’s the star of the comic strip and all, but that just strikes me as odd.
Baseball. Right. We are here for baseball and not comic strips. Besides, this weekend didn’t even rise to the level of a comic strip. This didn’t even rise to the level of dark comedy. It was mostly just a flat-out tragedy. Compounding that is that isn’t original material. For at least three seasons now the Cubs bats have had a tendency to just disappear.
It is completely normal for individual players to go through slumps. The normal ebb and flow of baseball is that a few guys are up and a few guys are down. This is, of course, why over long baseball seasons the teams with depth get to the playoffs. Also, whole teams can get blown away by a pitcher on his game. That’s how we get no hitters and Cy Young pitchers.
The thing about the Cubs is that for stretches of time it seems like every pitcher shuts them down. The Cubs managed 12 hits and drew seven walks in a three-game series. They scored two runs and managed one win thanks to a superior performance by Kyle Hendricks on Friday night. The entire Twins rotation isn’t going to win the Cy Young Award. The Cubs bats just vanished.
So, a five-game winning streak and seven wins in nine games is followed by two lifeless losses. This is how the Cubs season eventually ends. One of the teams along the way will execute their plan against this offense and the Cubs will go out with nary a whimper. I will be stunned if this team loses a series where the bats produced and the arms let them down. I fully expect them to eventually go down to defeat in a series of zero or one run outputs.
The Pirates await for four games. Perhaps the Cubs can give us a few more things to cheer about before this morbid 2020 season comes to an end. As has been the case since 2015, this ride has had a lot of laughs, a ton to cheer about, and more ups than downs. So I’m going to try to enjoy it all of the way to the end.
And with that, we turn our attention to yesterday’s game as we look at what WPA had to say about Heroes and Goats. As always the Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA (Win Probability Added) and are not in any way subjective. Many days WPA will not tell the story of what happened, but often it can give at least a glimpse to who rose to the occasion in a high leverage moment or who didn’t get the job done in that moment. With that, let’s get to the results.
Game 53, September 20: Twins 4, Cubs 0 (51-22)
- Superhero: Willson Contreras (.112). Willson had a hit and a walk. He also struck out twice. But he certainly led the offense.
- Hero: Anthony Rizzo (.047). One hit in four at bats. He struck out once.
- Sidekick: Ryan Tepera (.013). Ryan threw a scoreless inning, striking out two. The roster is getting tight, these guys who may be on the bubble are under the microscope.
- Billy Goat: Javier Baez (-.156). Javy was hitless in four at bats. Of course, he was two spots behind Willson, so he was one of the few guys who batted with runners on.
- Goat: Kris Bryant (-.123). Bryant did have one hit in four at bats.
- Kid: Cameron Maybin (-.106). He was hitless in three at bats after being inserted into the lineup when David Ross pulled Kyle Schwarber.
WPA Play of the Game: In the third inning, Anthony Rizzo batted with a runner on first and one out. The Cubs were down 2-0. He singled, putting runners at the corners. (.098).
*Twins Play of the Game: Kris Bryant, of course, followed Rizzo’s hit with a strikeout and that’s almost entirely why he landed where he did. (.089)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Heroes and Goats Cumulative Standings: (Top 5/Bottom 5)
- Yu Darvish 16
- Kyle Hendricks 15
- Ian Happ 14.5
- Jason Heyward 14.5
- Jason Kipnis 11
- Willson Contreras -6.5
- Victor Caratini -9
- Anthony Rizzo -10.5
- Kris Bryant -12
- Javier Baez -15
Up Next: The Cubs travel to Pittsburgh for four with the Pirates. Jon Lester will go for the Cubs. He will look for a third consecutive strong outing. He’ll oppose JT Brubaker. The odds-makers have the Cubs has decent favorites in this one. Let’s hope they are right and the Cubs get back in the win column. It would be nice to wrap up the division during this series.
Scoreboard Watching: The Cardinals are now 3½ games behind the Cubs. They open a three-game set against the Royals in Kansas City Monday night. The Cards are a significant favorite in the opener. The Brewers and Reds are playing each other. They each sit just one game behind the Cardinals. All three teams are surely sleeping with dreams of the Cubs collapsing through the last week of the season. The Reds have won seven of eight and they are favored in the opener against the Brewers.
The bottom of the potential playoff picture is, unsurprisingly, very tight. Going into play today, the Reds, Brewers and Giants are all at .500. One of them would be in the playoffs and the other two would be out. The Phillies are one over .500, the Cardinals two and the Marlins three. So basically, out of those six teams, four are going to get in.