So this is now two straight days of the Cubs behaving more like I’d expect against good teams. Both days, they played pretty much even until they didn’t. On Sunday afternoon, it was a fairly routine play gone bad that cost the Cubs the game. On Monday, it was the bullpen failing. It’s a shame for so many reasons, one of those being that by and large, the bullpen has been the rock for this team.
It would have been fun to have won either or both of these last two games. Certainly more Monday than Sunday. It’s always fun to beat a division rival and, for me at least, beating the Brewers in Milwaukee is just about as fun as beating the Cardinals.
To be fair, for eight innings, I sat expecting to lose this one. I know I’m a broken record, but I just expect the better team to eventually assert itself and win the game. That said, David Robertson has been terrific. When Seiya Suzuki hit his inside-the-park homer in the ninth inning, I thought what a terrific finish that would be and landing on a holiday would make it twice as memorable.
Alas, David Robertson lost the strike zone, hit a batter and issued a bases loaded walk to tie the game. Talk about letting all of the air out of the balloon. Then Scott Effross got knocked around in the 10th for one of the few times this year. The Brewers will think that Victor Caratini’s walk-off homer against his former team is all the sweeter given that they had to come from behind to do it.
The story of this loss is definitely there in Heroes and Goats today. The three Goats in this one are three of the ore consistent contributors on the team this season. Scott Effross doesn’t crack the top three, but he was fourth and has also been a top contributor. This was a lot of the guys you count on not coming through in the biggest moments. It happens, but that’s all the more frustrating.
Moral victories suck, but the development of guys like Justin Steele, Seiya Suzuki and Christopher Morel are what matter most. They will be here well beyond 2022. Their development is more important than whatever the scoreboard says at the end.
Despite all of the frustration, there were positives even in defeat.
- I start with Justin Steele because his performance stood out first. Steele had another strong start and really seems like he might be settling into being a major league starter. Justin pitched well enough to beat a very good Brewers team.
- Seiya Suzuki. What a return to the lineup. Just getting him back on the field felt like a small victory, the inside the park homer was exciting and dramatic. Oh, what could have been?
- With an honorable mention to Christopher Morel and his three walks, I’m going with Mychal Givens and another perfect inning out of the pen. I’d anticipate that there might be some interest in Givens later this month.
With that, we turn our attention to the Heroes and Goats from Monday’s frustrating loss.
Game 80, July 4: Brewers 5, Cubs 2 (32-48)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Seiya Suzuki (.390). 2-4, HR, RBI, R
- Hero: Justin Steele (.184). 6⅔ IP (27 batters), 2H, 4BB, R, 9K, HBP
- Sidekick: Rafael Ortega (.139). 1-2, R, K
- Billy Goat: Willson Contreras (-.301). 0-5, 2K
- Goat: David Robertson (-.293). IP, (7 batters), 2H, BB, R, 3K, HBP
- Kid: Ian Happ (-.214). 1-5, 2B, 4K
WPA Play of the Game: No doubt about this one, ex-Cub Victor Caratini’s three-run, walk-off homer (.386)
*Cubs Play of the Game: And no surprise here either. Seiya Suzuki’s go-ahead, inside-the-park homer in the ninth. (.376)
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.
An unusually large amount of movement at or near the top of the list from this one. Five of the six point earners in this one are in the top 10 with Justin Steele and Seiya Suzuki sliding into 9th and 10th (Steele +6, Suzuki +4.5).
- Nico Hoerner +17
- David Robertson +15.5
- Christopher Morel +12
- Daniel Norris -7.5
- Yan Gomes -15
- Jason Heyward -16.5
Up Next: Game two of this three-game set. Kyle Hendricks (4-6, 4.76) will start for the Cubs. he’s had a couple of good starts of late and has traditionally been a second half pitcher. Jason Alexander (2-0, 3.82) will start for the Brewers. Anyone want to wager on the number of Seinfeld references poor Jason has had in his young life? Over or under a million?