In theory, Opening Day matches your best against the other guy’s best. The margin between the best teams and the worst is less than most of us choose to think. I suspect these Cubs aren’t one of the best, though I also suspect that they will be competitive deep into the season. But when they are off, as they were on Thursday, they aren’t going to be able to sleepwalk through a game successfully very often. Even against a team like the Pirates that figures to be a bad one.
On Saturday, the Cubs welcomed back old pal Jake Arrieta. Jake isn’t quite the Jake of old, but he was still quite effective on the day, holding the Pirates to a single run over six innings and even that one didn’t particularly feel too bothersome. That was the kind of performance you’ll take each and every time and you’ll win way more often than not.
After issuing 11 free passes on Thursday, the Cubs bounced back with only one walk issued. Cubs hitters did strike out 12 more times, but they also strung together seven hjts and five runs on the day. The offense was led by Javier Baez with two hits and two stolen bases on the day. Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward each went deep as the Cubs received contributions from three guys who you’d hope would be right in the middle of things for the Cubs all year long.
The Cubs will go for the series win on Sunday. Of course, it’s never too soon to get greedy and hope for a sweep. But two out of three against any team is a very good outcome. Hopefully, the Cubs will get another well pitched game on Sunday and they can put a couple of wins in the books over the first series.
With that, we’ll turn our attention to Heroes and Goats. As you’ll recall, 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 2, April 3: Cubs 5, Pirates 1 (1-1)
- Superhero: Jake Arrieta (.239). 6IP, 6H, 1BB, 1R, 5K (W 1-0)
- Hero: Jason Heyward (.159). 2-4, HR (1), RBI, R
- Sidekick: Kris Bryant (.064). 1-3, HR (1), BB, RBI, R
- Billy Goat: Joc Pederson (-.057). 0-4, 3K
- Goat: David Bote (-.024). 0-3, SF, RBI
- Kid: Anthony Rizzo (-.020). 1-3, BB
WPA Play of the Game: With runners on first and second and two outs in the first inning, Kevin Newman dribbled one through the infield to give the Pirates a quick 1-0 lead (.102). Am I the only one who was already saying “not again?”
*Cubs Play of the Game: Kris Bryant hit a solo homer into the center field bushes with one out and the bases empty in the third inning. That gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead and a little bit of breathing room (.100).
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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Up Next: The Cubs and Pirates will compete for the series victory on Sunday afternoon.