I’ll leave it to Al to decide if the complaint department is open or not. The Keystone Kops routine in the ninth inning was less than ideal and I know that there are many that aren’t super excited with the Daniel Norris experience. Though in fairness, Daniel’s line doesn’t look out of the ordinary despite the ninth-inning carnage that made this game look at least a little closer than it actually was.
I’m taking credit in this space for predicting the last three Cubs wins. There is some creative accounting here, but I’m the arbiter in this space and I’m going to take it. I did suggest before the series in Pittsburgh that the Cubs would definitely take one and that I wouldn’t be surprised if they took two. Yeah, none of the rest of you are scoring this as an accurate prediction, but I’m taking it. Just the same, I absolutely wrote this yesterday:
Up Next: Game three of the four-game set between these two teams. Keegan Thompson (6-2, 3.27) starts for the Cubs. He’ll look to make it two positive starts in a row. It looks like the Pirates will start Jerad Eickhoff, who has been pitching for their Triple-A affiliate this year. The 31-year-old has previously pitched for the Rangers, Phillies and Mets in the major leagues. Dare I say it? This one looks like it could be a win. You can’t lose ’em all, right?
If you follow my predictions at all, only do so for amusement’s sake. I assure you, I’m pretty bad at this. Also, even though I was right about this one, I’ll assume that this was pretty low-hanging fruit. Keegan Thompson has ben far and away the Cubs best pitcher and the Pirates were starting a 31-year-old journeyman. This was absolutely a winnable game. Kudos to the Cubs because we all know teams do far worse than winning all of the winnable games. Especially the really bad teams.
More than anything, this game was probably a reminder that the Pirates are also a bad team. They looked like world-beaters on Monday and Tuesday, but they came into this series struggling as badly as the Cubs. Someone had to win.
The other reminder was that we can’t have nice things. Even after battering the Pirates to the point that we got to see an opponent’s position player pitch, the Cubs allowed four ninth-inning runs. All of them were unearned because the defense completely melted down. Well, mostly P.J. Higgins melted down, but he was in fact part of the defense.
Still, we also had Norris issuing a walk and hitting a batter with a 13-run lead. I last played organized baseball about 30 years ago. Even then, we were told one thing with a huge lead. Don’t give them any free runners and let them get back into the game. In the end, there is no difference between a 14-1 and a 14-5 win. But it would have been nice to clean it up and get it over.
For once, I have some good options for the three positives of the day.
- Keegan Thompson gets my top spot. Cubs pitching has been getting pummeled. Not only did Thompson give the Cubs some length, throwing six innings, but he was highly effective.
- Rafael Ortega. Three hits (including a double) and a walk, two RBI and two runs scored.
- Patrick Wisdom. Two hits, one of them a homer, drove in four and scored twice.
With that, we turn our attention to Heroes and Goats for Wednesday night’s win.
Game 69, June 22: Cubs 14 at Pirates 5 (26-43)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective. The exception to this occurs in blowouts. In this game, multiple players finished with .000 and I had to decide a tie breaker. In this one instance, I do use discretion.
- Superhero: Rafael Ortega (.150). 3-5, 2B, BB, 2RBI, 2R
- Hero: Alfonso Rivas (.080). 2-4, HR, HBP, 5RBI, 2R, 2K
- Sidekick: Nico Hoerner (.078). 1-3, RBI, R, SF
- Billy Goat: Willson Contreras (-.069). 0-5, 2K
- Goat: Yan Gomes (.044). 1-5
- Kid: P.J. Higgins/Daniel Norris (.000). Higgins: 0-1; Norris IP (8 batters!), H, BB, 4R (0ER), 2K, HBP
WPA Play of the Game: Rafael Ortega batted with the bases loaded and no outs, the game scoreless in the second inning. He doubled and the Cubs had all of the runs they would eventually need. (.110)
*Pirates Play of the Game: Bryan Reynolds tripled to lead off the bottom of the first. (.068)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Keegan Thompson - 6IP (24 batter, 4H, BB, R, 7K - W 7-2)
Patrick Wisdom (2-4, HR, 4RBI, 2R)
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.
- Nico Hoerner +15
- Christopher Morel +14
- David Robertson +11.5
- Daniel Norris -7.5
- Kyle Hendricks -10
- Jason Heyward -11.5
Up Next: Game four of this series between the Cubs and Pirates. Justin Steele (2-5, 4.27) starts for the Cubs. Old pal Jose Quintana (1-4, 3.66) will start for the Pirates. Both of these pitchers have performed a little better than their numbers might indicate. Quintana’s one win? It came against the Dodgers. Baseball is unpredictable sometimes.