Happy Independence Day! I hope your day includes some of the beach, the pool, the grill, a parade, your favorite cocktail (or two) and maybe some fireworks to top it off. But most importantly, I hope you can enjoy all of that freely and safely.
The Cubs saw their four-game winning streak come to an end on Sunday. They had been punching over their weight class all weekend long, so the loss in and of itself was not surprising to any of us. I don’t suppose with Keegan Thompson on the hill, we are even surprised that this was a low-scoring game. That ending, though? It was an unusual one.
The Cubs trailed for a good portion of Sunday. For the third straight day, I expected the Red Sox to simply pull away late. That is the way these games with a talent disparity can often go. You hang for a while, but eventually they just wear you down. The game gets into the bullpens and eventually they just have more quality arms than you.
But two things happened along the way. First, Patrick Wisdom did not read that script. And thus when he homered leading off the eighth inning, he tied the game. Second, in seven innings of work, none of the Cubs relievers allowed an earned run. I had noted that with Mark Leiter Jr. giving the Cubs five plus inning out of the pen on Saturday that they would be able to deploy the bullpen aggressively on Sunday if the right game situation occurred. it did, and they went after it.
The 11th inning of this game creates one of those mental dilemmas for me. On the one hand, this Cubs team isn’t going to reach the postseason. So every loss improves the team’s chances for a higher draft pick and all of the other related “benefits” of compiling one of the worst records. It’s hard, though, not to still root for the wins, particularly when they are there for the taking.
Sunday’s game stretches that balancing act further. A long game can have a rough effect on a bullpen. The effects of long games can linger for days. On the other hand, you really hate to see the game end, essentially, on a bad throw on what should be a routine play. I suspect the Cubs only had one arm left in the pen. After two innings Saturday, you wouldn’t expect Mychal Givens to have been available. Also, David Robertson has had a fair bit of work this past week including saving both wins earlier in the series.
So, this one was going to get tight on the bullpen for sure. But, you’d like to have seen the game play out to a better conclusion. It is what it is. We don’t get a vote in these things. But this definitely felt unfortunate.
Let’s find some positives in the loss.
- Patrick Wisdom gets the number one spot. There wasn’t much offense in this one, so even with only one hit in five at bats, we have to hat tip to his game tying homer.
- Chris Martin gets my second hat tip for a perfect ninth inning, including a strikeout.
- The final hat tip of the day goes to Scott Effross. I usually pick out clean innings here. But I’m going to nod to Scott who faced six batters, struck out three of them and retired five of them over all. For the first half of the season, the three players who I feel have had their stock rise the most are Effross, Nico Hoerner and Keegan Thompson.
And now we take a look at the Heroes and Goats from the loss.
Game 79, July 3: Red Sox 4 at Cubs 2 (32-47)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Chris Martin (.141). IP (3 batters), K
- Hero: Patrick Wisdom (.118). 1-5, HR, RBI, R, K
- Sidekick: Alfonso Rivas (.117). 2-2, BB
- Billy Goat: PJ Higgins (-.253). 1-5, 3K, DP
- Goat: Chirstopher Morel (-.247). 0-4, BB, 3K
- Kid: Nico Hoerner (-.131). 1-5
WPA Play of the Game: With runners on first and second with two outs in the 11th inning, Trevor Story bounced one that Rowan Wick fielded. He then overthrew first base. Both runners scored and Story made it to second. (.482)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Patrick Wisdom’s homer leading off the eighth inning tied the game at two. (.298)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
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.
- David Robertson +17.5
- Nico Hoerner +17
- Christopher Morel +12
- Daniel Norris -7.5
- Yan Gomes -15
- Jason Heyward -16.5
Up Next: A gauntlet of a week starts with three games in the recent house of horrors for the Cubs, American Family Field (the former Miller Park) in Milwaukee. As the Brewers ascended to the top tier of the NL Central and the Cubs descended to the second tier, Milwaukee has really become a cruel place. The Cubs will head there for three games against the division-leading Brewers who are 46-35.
Justin Steele (3-4, 4.39) starts for the Cubs. He had a very good June and he’ll look to carry that momentum into July. Eric Lauer (6-3, 4.02) will start for the Brewers.