Monday night was a bit of a unicorn game for the Cubs. Even before the bottom fell out on the 2021 Cubs, when they were still in contention in the NL Central, they weren’t really coming from behind much. They had also only walked off five wins previously. So when they entered the eighth inning trailing 4-1, this one looked pretty clearly headed for another loss. I wrote just last night that this team was 4-18 since the trade deadline. None of this sounded much like a game they had any business winning.
Of course, it wouldn’t have started out that way. The Cubs had Kyle Hendricks on the mound. If you were looking at this series, you’d have probably thought that if they were going to win one game in the series this would be the one. Kyle came into the game with a win/loss record of 14-5. Oddly though, the Cubs had been just 1-5 in games where Hendricks was neither the winning nor the losing pitcher. That illustrates again that the Cubs just aren’t much of a come-from-behind team this season. When the Cubs win with Kyle on the mound, they’ve been doing it while he is in the game.
But not Monday. So how did this happen? Well, the simplest answer is that these Rockies are very much a bad team too. But that doesn’t make for much of a fun story. Let’s look at the last two innings of the game and some WPA notes.
- Conner Joe’s sacrifice fly makes it 4-1 and is the first out in the top of the seventh. The Cubs have a 9.4% chance of winning according to Fangraphs. Recording the final two outs of the inning without incident bounces it back up to 12.3%.
- The Cubs do nothing in the bottom of the seventh and dropped down to just a 6.9% chance of winning.
- Codi Heuer throws a perfect eighth inning. The chances of winning increase to 8.3%.
- The Cubs draw three straight walks to start the eighth inning. The chances reach 35.1%
- Patrick Wisdom drives in a run with a single. That’s a (.166) WPA play.
- David Bote grounds into a double play, trading two outs for a run gets the score to 4-3. The play was a negative one for the Cubs at (.244). The chances plummet to 27.3% chance of victory.
- Michael Hermosillo doubles driving in the tying run. That’s a massive play (.307) and bumped the odds of winning all of the way up to 58% chance of winning.
- Manuel Rodriguez throws a perfect ninth and the chances creep up to a 63.7% chance of winning.
- Jason Heyward leads off the bottom of the innings with an single, increasing the chances of victory all of the way up to 71.1%.
- A batter later, Rafael Ortega went deep and the Cubs had a walk-off, two-run homer propelling victory. (.366).
Let’s go to the overall numbers and see what this game looks like through the eyes of Heroes and Goats:
Game 127, August 23: Cubs 6, Rockies 4 (55-72)
- Superhero: Rafael Ortega (.337). 1-4, HR (7), BB, 2RBI, 2R, K
- Hero: Ian Happ (.309). 3-3, 2-2B, BB, RBI
- Sidekick: Michael Hermosillo (.215). 1-4, 2B, RBI
- Billy Goat: David Bote (-.449). 0-4, 2-DP, K
- Goat: Kyle Hendricks (-.148). 7IP (30 batters faced), 9H, 4R, HBP, WP
- Kid: Robinson Chirinos (-.133). 0-4, 2K
WPA Play of the Game: Rafael Ortega’s two-run walk off homer. (.366)
*Rockies Play of the Game: With the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth inning, leading 4-2, the Rockies get David Bote to ground into a double play. (.244)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Manuel Rodriguez (IP, 3 batters faced, K, W)
Codi Heuer (IP, 3 batters faced, K)
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 5/Bottom 5)
- Kris Bryant +26
- Craig Kimbrel +20
- Rafael Ortega +19 (+3)
- Patrick Wisdom +14
- *Nico Hoerner +12
- *PJ Higgins/Rex Brothers -9.5
- David Bote -10 (-3)
- Ian Happ -13 (+2)
- Zach Davies -14
- Jake Arrieta -19
Up Next: Game two of a three-game set is Tuesday night in Chicago. The Cubs will look for a second straight win with Justin Steele (2-2, 3.22) scheduled to pitch. He’ll face German Marquez (11-9, 3.80).