First and foremost, Happy Father’s Day to one and all. You all had a father and interact with people who are many of you are fathers. I hope all of the fathers are reminded of how important they are today. Many of those dads have helped us to find this crazy sport that we love so much. Even if baseball sometimes makes us want to cry or be angry, we all love it or we wouldn’t be here.
It is a wacky game sometimes, isn’t it? I went out on a very short limb on Friday and said that the Cubs would win at least one and maybe two in this series. I talked at length yesterday about how hard it is to constantly maintain momentum away from the center. You will lose your shirt betting on “due,” but it does have some value if you are making low-level predictions like I sometimes do here.
So the Cubs played and executed well for two straight days. It wasn’t all perfect, but they did enough for two straight days. Technically, I think that’s called a winning streak. But as with baseball concepts like “retired the side” and “batting around,” some want to define it one way and others a different way. Some of you might want three straight wins before you call it a streak. So I’m going to give permission to the Cubs and Kyle Hendricks to shove for a third straight game and sweep the Braves. A sweep and a winning streak sure would make my Father’s Day at least a little better. This feature sure is easier to write when things are good and not all gloomy.
It hasn’t always been the case lately, but there were a handful of positives in this one, so though I’ll pick three, there were several to choose from.
- Willson Contreras. It was a special day for Willson and his brother, appearing in the starting lineup together for the first time. Very cool for them. I know they are very supportive of one another. Willson then went out and had an excellent game. He had three hits, a double, an RBI, a run scored, and stole a base. All while helping guide an unusual deployment of the bullpen to a win.
- Jonathan Villar. I’ll say it again: If only Villar were deployed solely as a hitter. His bat has value. It just all tends to get erased by his glove. Jonathan got the scoring started with a two-run single and added a walk later.
- Rowan Wick. He was used in the middle of the game, despite David Robertson likely being unavailable. He threw in the sixth and seventh innings, retiring the first five batters he faced before allowing a two out single and departing. The score was only 4-2 at the time, so those were some key outs.
With that, we turn our attention to the Heroes and Goats from Saturday’s win.
Game 65, June 18: Cubs 6, Braves 3 (25-40)
- Superhero: Willson Contreras (.188). 3-5, 2B, RBI, R, SB, K
- Hero: Jonathan Villar (.135). 1-3, BB, 2RBI, K
- Sidekick: Justin Steele (.095). 5IP (22 batters), 5H, 3BB, 2R, 3K (W 2-5)
- Billy Goat: Rafael Ortega (-.070). 1-4, HR, RBI, R, 2K
- Goat: Ian Happ (-.062). 1-4, R, K
- Kid: Nico Hoerner (-.045). 1-4, K
WPA Play of the Game: Jonathan Villar faced Kyle Wright in the first inning with two outs and runners on second and third, the game was scoreless. He singled and gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead. (.164)
*Braves Play of the Game: Dansby Swanson batted against Justin Steele with one out and runners at first and second in the fifth inning, the Braves trailing 4-1. He drew a walk, loading the bases, setting up their second run.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Rowan Wick (1 2⁄3 IP, 6 batters, H)
Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
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 +14.5
- Christopher Morel +14
- Nico Hoerner +12
- Kyle Hendricks/Daniel Norris -7
- Jason Heyward/Patrick Wisdom -10.5
Up Next: The third and final game of the series. The Cubs have guaranteed at least a split in the season series against the Braves with three wins in five games. Why not go for the sweep in this series and the win in the season series? Kyle Hendricks (2-5, 4.95) is on the mound. He looked much better last time in a five-inning start. Here’s hoping for similar results over six innings. Kyle tends to get better as the season wears on and to be better at home. I’m thinking he’s got a good chance to be successful today. He’ll need to be, because this Braves team is too good to be held down for long. Ian Anderson (5-3, 4.81) starts for Atlanta.