Baseball has a unique ability to rollercoaster your emotions. Willson Contreras missing some time with a hamstring issue (particularly sad for us at Heroes and Goats as he was having his best H&G season). P.J. Higgins, called up to replace Willson had a three-run triple to give the Cubs an early lead! Wade Miley looking great again. After starting low, the day was looking up.
Wade had a rough sixth, allowing three runs after five scoreless (for a total of 12 consecutive scoreless innings). The dependable Keegan Thompson was touched for a run of his own in the seventh, giving the lead to the Diamondbacks for the first time in the game. A fifth straight loss and a four-game sweep at home? The day was looking awful.
Patrick Wisdom with a game-tying homer leading off the eighth. That certainly doesn’t suck. But will the offense follow through and bring home the win?
Then, Frank Schwindel with a go-ahead solo homer!
But wait, seemingly all of the back-end relievers were roughed up on Saturday. Who will get the last three outs? Keegan. Of course. In three innings of work, he allowed singles to two of the first three batters he faced. There was also a wild pitch. But he ended up retiring the final eight batters he faced. Cubs win. Sweep averted.
The Cubs have evenly split the first 10 of 14 consecutive games.
Let’s look at three positives from Sunday’s win.
- I’ve got to go with Keegan Thompson. Keegan is getting the grand tour of pitching. He’s been used as a starter, a middle man and now he threw the final three innings of a game. He’s been effective across the board. By bWAR, Keegan has generated 2.0 bWAR and is fourth in all of baseball among pitchers. Nothing short of fantastic.
- Patrick Wisdom not only had the game-tying homer, but he had another hit and a walk. With all of the swing and miss in is game on top of being an extremely streaky player, Wisdom can be a maddening player. With a wRC+ of 114 and excellent glove work at third, Patrick feels like a guy who would fit in as the seventh hitter in a strong lineup.
- I have to go with P.J. Higgins for the other spot. Willson Contreras’ injury happened early enough on Saturday that P.J. had time to get to Wrigley in a hurry. PJ had a three-run triple, driving in the first three runs of his MLB career and also drew a walk. He made the most of his opportunity on Sunday.
And now we turn our attention to the Heroes and Goats from Sunday’s win.
Game 40, May 22: Cubs 5, Diamondbacks 4 (16-24)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Patrick Wisdom (.377). 2-3, HR, BB, RBI, 2R
- Hero: Frank Schwindel (.328). 1-2, HR, 2BB, RBI, 2R
- Sidekick: PJ Higgins (.235). 1-3, 3B, BB, 3RBI, K
- Billy Goat: Andrelton Simmons (-.245). 0-4, K, DP
- Goat: Rafael Ortega (-.108). 0-4, BB, SB
- Kid: Jonathan Villar (-.104). 0-4
WPA Play of the Game: Patrick Wisdom led off the eighth inning with the Cubs losing 4-3. He homered, tying the game. (.303)
*Diamondbacks Play of the Game: Wade Miley faced Jake McCarthy with runners on first and third and two outs in the sixth inning, the Cubs clinging to a 3-2 lead. McCarthy singled, completing a three run, game tying rally. (.152)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Keegan Thompson (3IP, 11 batters, 2H, R, 4K, WP) - W 4-0
Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments below)
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)
The award is named for Anthony Rizzo, who finished first in this category three of the first four years it was in existence and four times overall. He also recorded the highest season total ever at +65.5. The point scale is three points for a Superhero down to negative three points for a Billy Goat.
- Willson Contreras +12.5
- Scott Effross +10
- Ian Happ +9
- Frank Schwindel -6.5
- Patrick Wisdom -11
- Jason Heyward -11.5
Up Next: The Cubs move to Cincinnati for the final four games of that stretch of 14 games in 14 days. The Reds have actually won six of their last 10. Those six wins in 10 games match the six they had in their first 30 games. So you don’t have to do any math, they have a record of 12-28. For 30 games they looked like a team that could challenge the all time worst seasons in MLB history. Now? Maybe they avoid the worst outcomes but they still look like a team that will breeze by 100 losses.
This is the first of 19 between these two teams. Drew Smyly (1-5, 3.97) squares off with Vladamir Gutierrez (0-5, 8.65). 25 runs allowed in 26 innings for Gutierrez. He did have 11 quality starts in 22 starts overall in 2021 at the MLB level. But the start to his 2022 season is a full-on train wreck. Smyly has been better than his record would indicate.
The Cubs are nowhere good enough to assume success in any situation. But suffice to say, this one looks winnable on paper.