Friday’s game pitted two teams that were the front runners in the NL Central who faded and faded hard. Where once this game might have looked on paper like it could be a battle for the division lead heading into the break, now it looks like two teams fighting for third place. On Friday, the Cubs got the better of it with a 10-5 win.
On the positive statistic fun, Kyle Hendricks won the game and now has 11 wins, He’s tied with Julio Urias of the Dodgers for the league lead. Kyle has a decent shot at 20 wins. His career high is 16, and even on a bad Cubs team, I think he’ll go by that number. I still can’t imagine the Cubs actually being able to trade off large swaths of the offense (or defense, which is still pretty good), even if they want to. Kyle certainly looks like one of those pitchers who is going to finish in a mental abyss amongst baseball fans and writers alike. He’ll have been one of the best pitchers of this era, but he’ll have largely been ignored when it comes to things like All-Star games and Cy Youngs. Absent the things that used to benefit a pitcher who stays healthy and consistently good, like strikeouts and wins, he’ll likely be all but forgotten when it comes to Hall of Fame voting.
Also of note from the win, the Cubs scored 10 more runs. They’ve now scored 28 runs in their last four games. To be fair, there is a not insignificant portion of that scoring that came during garbage time. Still, for a team that had used 11 games to score their previous 29 runs, that’s a nice improvement. During that horrible streak the Cubs went through, they weren’t scoring early runs, late runs, clutch runs, or meaningless runs for the most part. So it continues to be feast or famine for the offense.
The Cubs have won two of three. It’s far too early to note this as them turning any kind of corner. The Phillies played badly in the one they lost to the Cubs and are very much a middle of the road team. The Cardinals are in a tailspin of their own. So these two wins aren’t particularly monumental achievements. But, it’s at least a baby step forward.
One last positive note was some improvement of the overall health level of the team. Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Ryan Tepera all played, returning from recent injury woes. Overall improved health and a much weaker schedule are part of the reason I still believe the Cubs will be in the 80-85 range, even with the expected unloading of multiple key players.
On this overall high note, let’s go 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 89, July 9: Cubs 10, Cardinals 5 (44-45)
- Superhero: Joc Pederson (.212). 2-4, 2-2B, BB, 3RBI, 2R
- Hero: Kyle Hendricks (.137). 6⅓IP (28 batters faced), 2H, BB, 2R, K, HBP (11-4)
- Sidekick: Ian Happ (.119). RBI, R, BB, K
- Billy Goat: Jake Marisnick (-.093). 0-2, K
- Goat: Anthony Rizzo (-.024). 1-3, BB, HBP, K
- Kid: Javier Baez (-.010). 1-5, R, 3K
WPA Play of the Game: Joc Pederson batted with the bases loaded and two outs in a scoreless tie in the first inning. He doubled, clearing the bases to give the Cubs an early 3-0 lead. (.233)
*Cards Play of the Game: Yadier Molina batted with runners on first and third in the third inning with the Cards trailing 3-1. He came through with an RBI-single. (.096)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Patrick Wisdom 2-5, HR, 3R, 2RBI
Ryan Tepera/Andrew Chafin (IP, 3 batters)
Heroes and Goats Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)
- Craig Kimbrel +18
- Kris Bryant +17
- Patrick Wisdom +12
- Rex Brothers/Eric Sogard, PJ Higgins -9.5
- Willsonc Contreras -10.5
- Jake Arrieta -14
Up Next: Game two of the three-game set is Saturday evening at Wrigley Field. Zach Davies will start to the Cubs. Given the number of teams seeking starting pitching, Davies is someone who might not finish this year with the Cubs. Davies is 5-5 with 4.28 ERA on the season. Kwang Hyun Kim is 3-5 despite a good 3.39 ERA. The Cubs will have a chance of moving their record back to even on the season.