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2020 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 36

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The Cubs win 8-2 for fourth win in five games

Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

One of the oddities of COVID-19 baseball is playing in front of essentially empty parks. That nullifies some of the effect of home field advantage. That doesn’t remove familiarity with the oddities of the park you play in nor does it eliminate you are staying in a hotel rather than you own bed in your own home. All together, I’d still expect there to be at least some advantage to playing at home. And yet, the Cubs have played some of their best baseball on the road.

I’m not sure if that is incidental or if there is a reason for it. But the Cubs have been very effective away from Wrigley Field. They were again last night. With that win, they moved to 5-4 on the trip and that number includes bullpen meltdowns in Detroit and Cincinnati that certainly could have been wins. If they can finish off the three-game sweep of the Pirates today, they’ll have gone 6-4 on this trip and have gone a long way towards wrapping up the NL Central.

Even Kyle Hendricks, who continues to have pronounced home/road splits, was very good Wednesday night. He looked early on like maybe he’d have another off start, but then got things in gear and ended up throwing six innings of one run ball. Obviously, I’m not going to oversell it. The Pirates traded off a number pieces over the last year and aren’t a competitive team right now. But every night, somewhere in baseball, a “good” team is losing to a “bad” team somewhere. I will never, ever, take it for granted that just because you are a significantly better team that a win is a given or shouldn’t be appreciated.

Javier Baez added a long home run to start the scoring and Anthony Rizzo added a couple of hits and drove in a pair of runs. Hopefully, those two can get it in gear. If you want to dream on a deep playoff run for the Cubs, you pretty much have to be dreaming on those two and Kris Bryant being the ones driving the offense as they have for the last few years.

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 36, September 2: Cubs 8, Pirates 2 (22-14)


Source: FanGraphs

THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero: Kyle Hendricks (.236). Kyle threw six innings allowing six hits, two walks, one run and striking out six.
  • Hero: Anthony Rizzo (.187). Anthony had two hits including a two-run single that helped bust the game wide open. He also scored once.
  • Sidekick: Javier Baez (.141). The three-run homer started the Cubs scoring and I was a little surprised he wasn’t higher up than this.

THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat: Jose Martinez (-.066). A rough first appearance for Jose in H&G. He was hitless in five at bats on the night. I still really like this acquisition, even though Martinez is off to a tough first couple of games as a Cub.
  • Goat: Steven Souza Jr. (-.032). He was hitless in five plate appearances, drawing only a single walk and striking out three times. One of those three was aided by what looked like a pretty bad strike call.
  • Kid: David Bote (-.031). David actually drew a pair of walks and scored once in four plate appearances. But someone had to land down here.

WPA Play of the Game: Javy’s three-run homer with no outs in the fourth put the Cubs in front 3-1. (.176)

*Pirate Play of the Game: Colin Moran’s second inning solo homer gave the Pirates an early 1-0 lead. (.106)

Poll

Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    Kyle Hendricks
    (73 votes)
  • 4%
    Anthony Rizzo
    (6 votes)
  • 33%
    Javier Baez
    (41 votes)
  • 2%
    Other
    (3 votes)
123 votes total Vote Now

Heroes and Goats Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)

  • Yu Darvish 15
  • Ian Happ 14
  • Kyle Hendricks/Kyle Schwarber 9
  • Victor Caratini/Javier Baez -7.5
  • Kris Bryant -10
  • Willson Contreras -10.5

Up Next: The final game of the three-game set with the Pirates this afternoon. The Cubs would certainly love to bank one more win before squaring off with the second-place Cardinals for five games in four days this weekend. Alec Mills gets another start for the Cubs. He’ll face JT Brubaker. The oddsmakers have this one pretty confidently as another Cubs win. Let’s hope that they can do that. With the division lead pushing to four games last night, if the Cubs win today, even if the Cardinals took four of five games this weekend, the Cubs would still be in first place.