Like many of you, I love baseball because of what is going on these days with the Cubs. Well, not because of this season’s Cubs, but because teams like these Cubs, not very good squads, sometimes just put it all together for a period of time. The net effect is that for that period of time, they are able to play over their collective talent level. I wouldn’t necessarily expect this team to win five straight games against major league teams. Then that thing happens, they win a game or two here and then they build some confidence, a “Why not us?” mentality.
There is a lot of that going on right now. And Frank Schwindel is playing out of this world baseball right now. I always remember guys doing this kind of thing for the Cardinals. Some seeming shlub reaches the majors and then goes on a tear. This is three times now the Cubs have had it happen this year alone. Former Cardinals prospect Patrick Wisdom, Rafael Ortega and now Schwindel. It’s a pretty remarkable thing to follow.
This is a funny thing, because I had to think the Cubs, particularly with Kyle Hendricks starting, had a shot in this one. And then when they put a three-spot on the board in the fourth to take a 3-1 lead, I thought “here we go.” But then the Pirates put up five runs in the fifth and the Cubs went down three. Schwindel then homered for the fifth time in six games to cut it to a two-run deficit. But as it stayed there, you had to think this would be the end of the line.
Teams down two runs heading to the bottom of the ninth almost always lose. So there was no reason to think this team would come off the mat and even tie it, much less win it. Certainly when it reached two outs and a runner on first, it wasn’t looking good. There is always a chance of a game-tying homer, but beyond that you are pretty well screwed. Matt Duffy recognized defensive indifference and took second (+.002). Then Sergio Alcántara walked (+.043). Alfonso Rivas followed with an RBI single (+.109) and suddenly, they were in business. Alcántara moved all of the way to third on the play.
That brought Ortega to the plate and he delivered another RBI single (+.437). Andrew Romine, who had run for Rivas, made it all the way to third. Then Ortega took second on defensive indifference (don’t ask me, -.002). That set the stage for the National League Rookie of the Month for August, Frank Schwindel. Frank singled and that was the ball game (+.365).
Ortega and Schwindel just keep coming through and they did it again in Saturday’s game. Pitching has been the calling card of this winning streak, but on Saturday the offense came through, putting three on the board to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Wholly remarkable. That’s all I’ve got for you.
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 137, September 4: Cubs 7, Pirates 6 (62-75)
- Superhero: Frank Schwindel (.433). 3-5, HR (9), 2RBI, R
- Hero: Rafael Ortega (.292). 3-5, 2B, RBI, DP
- Sidekick: Sergio Alcantara (.111). 1-3, BB, RBI, R
- Billy Goat: Kyle Hendricks (-.296). 4⅓ IP, 23 batters faced, 5H, 3BB, 6R, K, 2HBP
- Goat: Trevor Megill (-.187). ⅔ IP, 3 batters faced, H, WP
- Kid: Michael Hermosillo (-.075). 0-2
WPA Play of the Game: Rafael Ortega’s two-out, game-tying, RBI-single in the ninth inning. (.437)
*Pirates Play of the Game: Anthony Alford batted with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning against Kyle Hendricks. At the time, the Cubs were leading 3-2. Hendricks hit Alford, forcing in the tying run. (.127)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Matt Duffy (2-4, RBI, R)
Alfonso Rivas (1-1, RBI)
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 5/Bottom 5)
- Kris Bryant +26
- Craig Kimbrel +20
- Frank Schwindel +20 (+3)
- Patrick Wisdom +18
- Rafael Ortega +18 (+2)
- *PJ Higgins/Rex Brothers -9.5
- *David Bote -12
- Zach Davies -14
- Jake Arrieta -19
Up Next: Zach Davies (6-10, 4.91) starts the fourth and final game of the series Sunday afternoon. He’ll face Will Crowe (3-7, 5.46). Six in a row? Maybe.