I was in bed just after the first inning on Thursday night, so I missed a little bit of history. But I wake up pretty frequently during the night. I didn’t follow what happened closely, but it was amusing. I did note that the Dodgers didn’t get a hit in the first and the Cubs were winning. I always know one inning is too early, but in that situation, I literally always mentally note that there could be a no-hitter. I suppose if I grew up in the Deadball Era or here in 2021, maybe there would be a reason to be that way. But it’s just the way I always have been.
So every time I woke up last night, I did the same thing. I rolled over, woke up my phone and refreshed my sports app. First, make sure the Cubs are winning, then check if the Dodgers have any hits. I must have fallen into a deep sleep right around the fifth. Surely I’d have stayed up and followed the game had I seen them into the late innings protecting a lead and a no hitter. That last time I woke up must have been not too long after the game. My sports app didn’t have a recap up yet. But I saw the win and the no-hitter. Josh already had his story up on the front page. Pretty awesome stuff.
This is the fun about the ebb and flow of baseball. You don’t even always know or comprehend as you’ve switched from ebb to flow. And you never really know if tomorrow is going to reverse course. To date, these Dodgers are not the Dodgers who have owned the National League over the last half dozen years or so. But, there they sit with one of the best records in the league, despite their “struggles.” If you don’t want to think of them as struggles, open any kind of Dodgers fan site. When the World Series is the only successful place for a season to end, even mediocre baseball that results in a good record just isn’t good enough.
But here the Cubs are. We Cubs fans understand that whole thing — because there have already been three totally distinct spots in the season where the Cubs have lost five of six games, because of a myriad of injuries, because management didn’t really go all out putting the team on the field this year, for so many reasons this Cubs team isn’t elite. But there they sit with one of the best records in the league. And here they are again. They’ve now won three of four. They’ve already won the season series from the Padres and the Mets previously and with last night’s win, now also the Dodgers. I understand why you would be frustrated with them at times, disappointed with them at others. But when the dust settles, the Cubs are going to have won the season series against possibly the three top teams in the NL (though they are losing the series 3-1 to the Giants who have the top record to date).
The tide is rolling in the Cubs direction again. I suspect the Dodgers will bounce back and I know this trip will be tough. This is one of those 10-game trips where if you can win even four that’s not terrible and if you can start getting to five or six you have to feel real good about it. Starting that with a win, a dominant win, feels really good. That bullpen closing out a no hitter as Zach Davies watching on is a perfect way to start the trip. That three headed monster at the end of the game has been flat out dominating. They certainly aren’t invincible, but by this point in the season, there is no question at all that teams around the NL are noticing that if you are losing after six innings against this Cubs team, your odds of victory are much, much less than what a WPA calculator are telling you.
On that note, we’ll segue to the WPA numbers from last night’s win. 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 75, June 24: Cubs 4 at Dodgers 0 (42-33)
- Superhero: Zach Davies (.342). 6IP (22 batters faced), 0H, 5BB, 0R, 4K (W 5-4)
- Hero: Willson Contreras (.125). 1-4, HR (13), 2RBI, R, DP, CS
- Sidekick: Jason Heyward (.056). 2-3, BB, R
- Billy Goat: Joc Pederson (-.075). 0-3, HBP, K
- Goat: Rafael Ortega (-.040). 0-3, K
- Kid: Eric Sogard (-.028). 1-4, K
WPA Play of the Game: With two outs and a runner on second in the sixth inning, the Cubs were clinging to a one run lead when Willson Contreras stepped to the plate. He hit his 13th home run of the year and gave Zach Davies and the Cubs some breathing room as they chased history. (.203)
*Dodgers Play of the Game: With runners on first and third and two outs in the fifth inning, Joc Pederson squared off with Walker Buehler. Buehler won when Pederson popped out. (.051)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Heroes and Goats Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)
- Craig Kimbrel +18
- Kris Bryant +14
- Ryan Tepera +12.5
- PJ Higgins/Jason Heyward -9.5
- Ian Happ -10
Up Next: Game two of the four-game set, late Friday night in Los Angeles. Jake Arrieta will be on the hill for the Cubs. Jake has struggled since the end of April and he’s been pretty bad on the road. But he surely had some fond memories of the last no hitter thrown in Los Angeles against the Dodgers as he watched last night. Jake is 5-8 with a 5.45 ERA in 14 starts so far this year. He’ll have his work cut out for him against a Dodgers team that remains one of the best in the league. He’ll face Tony Gonsolin. Tony has only pitched in three games at the big league level in 2021. They are all starts, but he’s behaved a little like an opener totaling just nine innings across the three starts. He’s pitched into the fourth inning the last two times. He has a 3.00 ERA, but there isn’t much of a sample to look at. The 27-year-old right hander has been pitching in the majors off and on since the 2019 season and has a career 2.63 ERA. The Cubs hitters have essentially never seen him. Let’s hope the Cubs can make it two in a row against the Dodgers and four of five overall!