On Saturday afternoon and early evening, Adbert Alzolay had arguably the best start of his young Cubs career. His progression this season has been clear. Hopefully, some of his teammates who have been working with him are helping him to mentally put blinders on him in regards to results. Adbert appeared to make two real mistakes on Saturday night, they resulted in a homer that won the game and a triple that led to the other run. In between, he generally dazzled Cardinals hitters in throwing seven innings.
Years ago, we used to wax poetically about the benefits of Greg Maddux. Those benefits often mentioned things like the effect on other games around the one he pitched. Adbert threw seven innings, and the Cubs used only one reliever in the game. Thus, despite the loss, the Cubs will have their full complement of relievers available for Sunday’s game. Meanwhile, in an unfortunate situation, Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas left early with a forearm strain (two words no pitcher ever wants to experience), forcing the Cardinals bullpen to throw five innings. Should Sunday’s game be another close one, this is the kind of thing that might tip the edge in the Cubs favor. This is doubly true given that Monday is an off day for the Cubs. They can literally unload the bullpen on Sunday if they need to. By Tuesday, some of these guys are going to be looking for live innings.
The stat I mentioned yesterday remains true. The Cubs have had two outcomes in May. They’ve won or they’ve lost by one run. Unfortunately, it was the second one on Saturday. But they continue to play well. St. Louis is a tough, tough place to play. But the Cubs hung in there and made it a close game to the end. I’m always going to hate losing to the Cardinals, but this one bothered me less than many of them. Of course, if they don’t win Sunday’s game, I’ll feel like an opportunity was lost.
Before we can get to Sunday’s game, we need to recap Saturday’s. So let’s get to the numbers. 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. And now, let’s get to the results.
Game 45, May 22: Cardinals 2, Cubs 1 (23-22)
- Superhero: Willson Contreras (.183). 1-2, 2BB
- Hero: Keegan Thompson (.027). IP (4 batters faced), H, 0BB, 0R, K
- Sidekick: Adbert Alzolay (.020). 7IP (26 batters faced), 5H, 0BB, 2R, 6K (L 2-4)
- Billy Goat: Ian Happ (-.175). 0-4, 3K
- Goat: Anthony Rizzo (-.157). 1-4, K
- Kid: Javier Baez (-.080). 1-4, RBI, K
WPA Play of the Game: Yadier Molina led off the seventh inning with the game tied 1-1. He hit a home run and the Cards went on to win 2-1. (.215)
*Cubs Play of the Game: With two outs in the first inning, Javier Baez batted with runners on first and third. He singled and the Cubs took an early 1-0 lead. (.098)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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Heroes and Goats Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)
- Kris Bryant +15
- Keegan Thompson +8.5
- Craig Kimbrel +8
- David Bote -9
- Zach Davies -11
- Javier Baez -12
Up Next: The final game of the three game set is Sunday evening on ESPN. The spotlight will be on the two long time NL Central foes. Zach Davies is scheduled to start for the Cubs. Zach actually has a 2,11 May ERA in 21⅓ innings of work. That’s the good news. The bad is that he’s only struck out nine while walking seven. Those strikeout and walk numbers over that number of innings aren’t likely to continue to produce good results. But, Davies has been noticeably better after a really rough April. As I’ve mentioned many times in this space, Davies does have a history of numbers that improve as the season goes on. Hopefully, he continues to progress this season. The Cardinals will send Adam Wainwright to the mound. Wainwright got knocked around a little in his last start and has had some trouble with the long ball this season. I’m looking for a script that includes two or three homers from the Cubs, five decent innings out of Davies and then four innings of the bullpen locking down a Cubs win ahead of an off day.