The Cubs have come through a relatively tough stretch here the last two weeks in pretty good shape. In the last two weeks, they played road games in Cleveland and Detroit. Cleveland is in second place and very much in contention for a playoff spot. Then they came home to play the Nationals. The Nationals are having a tough start to the 2021 season, but four games against a team that won a championship in 2019 is no gimme. Then they headed to St. Louis for three games against the division leading Cardinals. The Cubs have come through this stretch with seven wins in 12 games. With eight road games and nine games against teams expected to compete for playoff spots in 2021, that was a very good outcome.
On Sunday night, it was the pitching staff that carried the Cubs. Zach Davies had perhaps his best outing as a Cub with five scoreless innings against the Cardinals, though he did allow seven baserunners. Then five Cubs relievers combined for just one run allowed. That run was the unearned baserunner from the modified extra inning rules. I mentioned yesterday that a strong outing from Adbert Alzolay would give the Cubs an option to go to the pen early on Sunday night and try to steal the game that way and arguably, they did just that. In five innings, the Cubs relievers allowed just two hits and three walks. The bullpen has been a real strength for the Cubs to this point in 2021.
The big blow came from Javier Baez. As one of the people who has sometimes been rough on Javy, I tip my cap. His two-run homer ended up being the game winner. After the game on April 14, Javy had a .656 OPS with three homers. His season line now includes 11 homers and his OPS is up to .802. With his glove, a top 60ish OPS should keep him in line for a very big contract as a free agent in the offseason. Certainly, some teams will shy away from a player with Javy’s skillset. But someone, hopefully the Cubs, is going to pay him well.
It’s way, way too early to look at the standings, but with two wins over the weekend, the Cubs are now a mere two games behind the Cardinals in the division race. Rumors of the demise of this Cubs team were at least slightly premature.
With that happy development, let’s take a look at 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 46, May 23: Cubs 2 at Cardinals 1 (24-22)
- Superhero: Zach Davies (.270). 5IP (21 batters faced), 4H, 3BB, 0R, 3K
- Hero: Craig Kimbrel (.244). 1⅓ IP (5 batters faced), 0H, BB, 1R (0ER), 2K (W 1-2)
- Sidekick: Javier Baez (.234). 1-4, HR (11), 2RBI, R, 2K
- Billy Goat: Joc Pederson (-.098). 0-4
- Goat: Willson Contreras (-.096). 0-3, BB, R, 2K
- Kid: Nico Hoerner (-.091). 0-4, 1K
WPA Play of the Game: Javier Baez batted with one out and a runner on third in the tenth inning. The game was still scoreless. Javy took Cardinals closer Alex Reyes deep to give the Cubs a two-run lead. (.303)
*Cardinals Play of the Game: With runners on first and second and no outs in the seventh inning, Adam Wainwright attempted to sacrifice bunt. Cubs pitcher Ryan Tepera fielded the ball cleanly and threw to third for the force out. Only, the runner was ruled safe and the Cardinals had the bases loaded and no out. (.104)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Kris Bryant 2-4
Ryan Tepera (IP, 4 batters faced)
Up Next: The Cubs have an off day Monday then begin a three-game set with the Pirates on Tuesday. Jake Arrieta is scheduled to throw the opener. The Cubs will be favored to win this one.