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2021 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 31

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The game that just wouldn’t end, ended very well.

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday night’s game was one of the more entertaining contests I’ve seen in a while. Damn the baseball gods for not giving Cub fans one of the more dramatic and incredible endings to a game I can remember. In the 10th inning, with runners on first and third and two out, Max Muncy lined one into the gap. As I watched the play, I remember being frustrated that the Cubs were making a play at the plate. With the new extra-inning rules, it is very possible to put a crooked number on the board. So even with two runs scoring, slowing down a third run then is a big deal.

Except, Kris Bryant to Javier Baez to Willson Contreras completed an amazing relay play and as the Cubs broadcasters pointed out, Justin Turner does an awful lot of things well. One of those things is not baserunning. So the Cubs got the out at the plate, ending the inning. They were down just one.

Then in the bottom of the 10th with runners on first and second, the Dodgers had a wild pitch with Joc Pederson at the plate. With runners on second and third, Joc absolutely destroyed a ball. After the slow start and then injury to start the year for Pederson, a three-run homer off of one of the best closers of this generation, not to mention his former teammates, would have been an incredible moment.

Only the ball held up and it (only) ended up as a sacrifice fly to tie the game. A couple of intentional walks later, the Dodgers got exactly what they needed in a hard hit ground ball double play off of the bat of Willson Contreras.

Ultimately, Alec Mills has one of the weirder lines for a winning pitcher you’ll ever see. Alec has been a Swiss Army knife of sorts for this team. He’s started, he closed a game and he’s been a long man. In this one, he threw the 10th and 11th innings. He allowed a run in each inning. But the Cubs plated two in the bottom of the inning and walked it off for the win.

What a win. What an improbable sweep. We are reminded that for all of their problems, the Cubs remain a team with a lot of talent. Sweeps against the Mets and Dodgers are not nothing. Of course, the significant number of April losses that went into the books aren’t nothing either. This team has some problems. But, with the two sweeps this team has tread enough water to give themselves a chance to figure some things out and be competitive. Will they be able to do that? Who knows? All I know right now is that the ride just might be more entertaining than it looked a little while ago.

Game 31, May 5: Cubs 6, Dodgers 5 (15-16)


Source: FanGraphs

THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero: Matt Duffy (.768). 3-4, 2B, BB, 2R, RBI, K
  • Hero: Anthony Rizzo (.465). 1-1, BB, RBI
  • Sidekick: Joc Pederson (.203). 1-3, sac fly

H&G notes: Clearly, the Duffy score is the largest of the year to date, and that is the highest Cubs WPA score since David Bote’s Ultimate Slam on August 12, 2018. At .465, Rizzo would have been the third-largest WPA game score of the year, but it slides down to fourth once Duffy takes the top spot.

THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat: Willson Contreras (-.735). 0-5, R, 3K, DP
  • Goat: Jason Heyward (-.366). 0-5, 3K
  • Kid: David Bote (-.274). 0-5, 3K

H&G notes: First, oh my God, the Cubs just won a game where their fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place hitters each were hitless in five at bats with three strikeouts. Contreras is clearly the largest negative score of the year to date. It’s the largest Cubs negative WPA game score since August 29 of last year when Craig Kimbrel posted a (-.783). It was the largest negative recorded since I started tracking the numbers. The previously largest negative game score for a Cubs hitter that I recorded was a -.439 by Jason Heyward on March 30, 2018.

WPA Play of the Game: After Joc Pederson’s sacrifice fly sent Anthony Rizzo to third and tied the game in the tenth inning, the Dodgers elected to intentionally walk Kris Bryant and Javier Baez. That brought Willson Contreras to the plate. Willson made hard contact, but hit it right into an easy double play sending the game to the 11th. (.504)

*Cubs Play of the Game: With two outs and a runner on second in the bottom of the eleventh with the Cubs trailing by one, Matt Duffy came to the plate. He singled and that tied the game. (.422)

Poll

Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 83%
    Matt Duffy
    (220 votes)
  • 10%
    Anthony Rizzo
    (28 votes)
  • 3%
    Ryan Tepera (2IP, 6 batters faced, 2K)
    (9 votes)
  • 2%
    Jake Marisnick (1-4, HR, 2RBI)
    (6 votes)
  • 0%
    Other
    (1 vote)
264 votes total Vote Now

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

  • Craig Kimbrel +9
  • Jake Marisnick +7
  • Matt Duffy +6.5
  • Jason Adam -6
  • Ian Happ -7
  • Zach Davies -11

Up Next: The Cubs get an off day on Thursday and then open a three-game weekend set with the Pirates on Friday afternoon. Zach Davies will be on the mound. He looked to have made some small progress forward in his last start and as I’ve noted before, he has been a slow starter in the past, so it is too soon to give up on him. The Pirates will counter with former Cub Trevor Cahill. The Cubs will look for a fourth straight win and fifth win in six games as the team continues its streaky start to the 2021 season.