Keegan Thompson has to be thinking this Heroes and Goats thing is easy. He’s made two appearances since being recalled from the minor leagues. He had a Hero placement for his start against the Dodgers on May 4 and now for May 9 he finds the Superhero spot for the first time. That’s already enough to be hanging around near the top of the cumulative standings. Further, for whatever it’s worth, he picked up his first major league win in the game.
More importantly, the Cubs won another game on Saturday. It was their fifth straight victory. Obviously, it’s no secret that the Pirates aren’t good. But the Dodgers have been the best team in the National League over the last decade and virtually every baseball expert would say that in the present tense and not the past tense. They’re banged up. It’s early. There are a lot of things you can definitely say that are reasonable along those lines.
But you can’t say that they are nothing. This Cubs team has won five straight games. They are over .500 now. You can’t assume a victory. The Pirates are fielding a major league team. They win games. They’ve won three of them already (in eight tries) against this Cubs team. Both of the Cubs wins in this series were competitive down to the last out of the game. So you can’t assume anything. If the Cubs can manage a victory on Sunday, they’ll be 18-16 through their first 34 games. That’s an 86-win pace. Many experts would have pegged 86 games right around what it will take to win the NL Central this year.
There is an awful lot of baseball to be played. Teams will get hot. Teams will fade. Injuries will happen. Trades will happen. So many things will change the landscape of things between here and there. But the Cubs just might be emerging as a team that can get back to the playoffs one more time. We won’t know for sure for months. But with a rejuvenated Kris Bryant leading the way, with a bunch of spare parts and a surprisingly effective bullpen, this team can maybe compete. Maybe. We shall see.
And with that happy thought, we’ll 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 33, May 8: Cubs 3, Pirates 2 (17-16)
- Superhero: Keegan Thompson (.225). 3IP (12 batters faced), 2H, BB, 0R, 0K (W 1-0)
- Hero: Matt Duffy (.224). 1-1, RBI
- Sidekick: Craig Kimbrel (.158). IP (4 batters faced), 0H, BB, 0R, 0K (Sv 6)
- Billy Goat: David Bote (-.090). 1-3, K
- Goat: Joc Pederson (-.087). 0-4, 3K
- Kid: Trevor Williams (-.054). 4IP (20 batters faced), 5H, 2BB, 2R, 6K
WPA Play of the Game: With two outs, a runner at second and with the game tied at two in the seventh inning, Matt Duffy delivered a pinch single, driving in the decisive run. (.224)
*Pirates Play of the Game: With no one out and a runner on first in the fourth inning, the Pirates were trailing 2-0 when Ka’ai Tom came to the plate. Tom hit a homer and tied the game at two. (.210)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Willson Contreras (1-3, HBP, RBI, R)
Heroes and Goats Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)
- Craig Kimbrel +10
- Matt Duffy +7.5
- Jake Marisnick +7
- David Bote/Ian Happ -7
- Zach Davies -8
Up Next: The teams play their final game of the three-game set Sunday afternoon. The Cubs will be sending Kyle Hendricks to the mound as they look for their second consecutive series sweep and try to push their winning streak to six games.