Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in! I was 16 when that line was made famous. To tell the truth, I’m not a Godfather guy. I couldn’t have even told you which movie it was from before I looked it up. I was pretty sure it was an Al Pacino quote, but I wasn’t even sure it was from one of the Godfather movies.
But, that’s how this road trip makes me feel. There was one in mid-May that did the same thing. The team showed signs of life and like a faithful dog awaiting its owner when the garage door opens, I stood up a little taller and my proverbial tail wagged a little in my brain. How do you know when you’ve got it bad for your team? When every little sign of life perks you up again. It’s like an abusive relationship. I just know I’m going to be let down again at some point. But here I am just a little bit excited like there is some deeper meaning.
It’s a sickness, this fandom thing. But there was 1984 and 1989 and there was the 2008 Cubs and then 2015. Then there was 2016! And then each successive year, it descended a little bit more into frustration. I left out 2003. Maybe for some of you “that year” was 1969 or 1984 (or both). But for me, it’s 2003. That’s the one that really hurt.
But we come back, year after year. We get older and wiser. A year like this one, we didn’t get our hopes up. We mentally set low bars. Maybe for you it was 70 wins or 75 wins or you just really hoped things would click and maybe they can make 80. The future isn’t written, but if you set your goal even as high as 70, you have to know by now it’s highly unlikely. Even allowing for the very poor health of the first half and a probability that they’ll be healthier from here out, this team played itself so far out of contention that really, a trade could happen any time. Oh, they are likely to wait another month. But sometime soon some team is going to strike first. A Cub could be in one of those trades. We just can’t know.
On Sunday, the Cubs came off the mat from a 5-0 deficit, rallied to tie the game and then unlike the day before, they carried through and won the game. For some reason, the Cubs leverage relievers weren’t available on Saturday after the Cubs tied the game. Certainly David Robertson has been a busy man lately and no question he was down. But if the others weren’t available, why burn Rowan Wick and Scott Effross early? I certainly don’t trust Wick in those situations right now, but the Cubs are generally comfortable sliding him into a high leverage spot when Robertson isn’t available.
The Cubs had a real shot at a sweep over the weekend. I don’t think it matters a whole lot for the Cubs. For the Cardinals, I can imagine this was a largely frustrating weekend of baseball. I don’t think this team’s true talent level is 100-110 losses and no selloff of pieces has occurred yet. With the injuries, it is tough to know. But, I still believe there will be a stretch of competitive baseball. Maybe this will be it. The Cubs just played 17 straight days, losing 12 of those games. But, they were 5-5 over the last 10. It’s progress, right?
Let’s jump into three positives from the win.
- David Robertson faced four batters and retired them all. Official scoring doesn’t work that way, but he basically gets the win and the save. David gets the special hat tip, but the entire bullpen was great, including Matt Swarmer who faced seven batters and recorded seven outs, despite issuing a walk. Effective and efficient. Love it. The bullpen absolutely made the “steal” of this game possible.
- Willson Contreras continues to have a strong season despite trade questions looming. He had a pair of hits and drove in three of the six runs.
- Most of the lineup contributed in this one, but I’m going to give the nod to David Bote. In his second game back, David had a single and drew two walks. I don’t know how good David can be at this point, but if he can stabilize the defense and get on base some, then Nick Madrigal can focus on trying to be 100 percent healthy before he tries to return.
With that, we turn our attention to the Heroes and Goats and look at how WPA looked at this game.
Game 73, June 26: Cubs 6 at Cardinals 5 (28-45)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: David Robertson (.491). 1⅓ IP (4 batters), 2K (W 2-0)
*This is the third highest WPA game score of the year by a Cub.
- Hero: Willson Contreras (.240). 2-5, 3RBI, 2K
- Sidekick: Mychal Givens (.171). 1⅔ IP (6 batters), H, 3K
- Billy Goat: Alec Mills (-.287). 2⅔ IP (15 batters), 6H, BB, 5R, K, HBP
- Goat: Christopher Morel (-.265). 0-4, BB, 2K, DP
- Kid: Yan Gomes (-.183). 2-5, 2B, R, DP
WPA Play of the Game: Yan Gomes came to the plate after the Cubs had taken a 6-5 lead. The bases were loaded and only one was out. The Cubs had a very good chance to add on, but it was eliminated when Gomes hit into a double play. (.194)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Willson Contreras led off the tenth inning with an RBI single to give the Cubs the lead. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to being able to talk about a leadoff RBI single. (.189)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Matt Swarmer (2 1⁄3 IP, 7 batters faced, BB, 4K)
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 +18
- David Robertson +14.5
- Willson Contreras +13.5
- Daniel Norris -7.5
- Yan Gomes -9
- Jason Heyward -16.5
Up Next: Finally, a day off on Monday. I know I’ll enjoy it, so I’m sure the team will too. The Cubs will open a three-game series with the Reds Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. The Reds won Sunday, but after a bit of a bounce off their historically bad open to the season, they’ve lost eight of 10 and are 22 games under .500 at 25-47. Keegan Thompson (7-2, 3.10) is lined up to start for the Cubs. Luis Castillo (2-4, 3.71) is in line to start for the Reds. That’s a lot better matchup on paper than you’d expect from two of the worst teams in baseball.