I wish the outcome of this one was less foreseeable. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t see a 1-0 game or the Cubs only getting one hit while being “Maddux’d” coming. But did most of us see Albert Pujols hitting a key homer coming after he found the fountain of youth at 42? Somehow, the veteran slugger has turned back the clock as his career winds down. Perhaps he’s rejuvenated by having a chance to play deep into the postseason again after so many disappointing years in Anaheim.
Whatever it is, the Cardinals slugger is on his way to Cooperstown. He’s heading there after years of tormenting the Cubs. Some of his best production has come at the expense of Cubs pitching. The Cubs got a bit of a respite while he was in the AL, but wouldn’t you just know he’d get in a few more shots on the way out?
With due respect to Mr. Pujols, though, this night belonged to Jordan Montgomery. Just one double to Christopher Morel stood between him and history. 28 up, 27 down. It literally can’t go much better than that. Montgomery completely mystified the Cubs hitters. Unlike the Pujols performance, there is no precedent for this one. Montgomery had only faced close to this many 28 batters three previous times, those games were 28, 28, and 29. Jordan had previously never recorded a major league out in the eighth inning as a starter.
Or maybe there was a precedent? One of those other 28 batter outings was in June of this year as a Yankee starter. Against the Cubs. In that one, he held the Cubs to five hits in seven innings. Oh, wait, in May 2017 against a much better version of the Cubs, Jordan threw 6⅔ innings facing 28 batters against them. At Wrigley Field. So, of course, three of the four longest starts of his career occurred against the Cubs. The only three times he’s faced them.
Across those three games, he’s pitched 22⅔ innings, allowed nine hits, four walks, three runs (two earned). He’s only struck out 15 batters, but with an ERA of 0.79, he hasn’t been hampered by a pedestrian strikeout rate. Oh, and he’s 3-0 in those three starts.
Enough accolades for Cardinals. Let’s talk about the Cubs, it couldn’t have all been bad in a game in which they held the opponent to a single run.
- Drew Smyly. Drew is a tough-luck loser in this one. He allowed the Pujols homer among four hits over seven innings, only needing 26 batters to record 21 outs.
- Sean Newcomb threw a perfect inning, striking out one.
- Kervin Castro bounced back from some rough outings, only needing three batters to record three outs, despite issuing a walk.
Game 121, August 22: Cardinals 1 at Cubs 0 (52-69)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Drew Smyly (.219). 7IP (26 batters), 4H, 2BB, R, 6K (L 5-7)
- Hero: Sean Newcomb (.053). IP (3 batters), K
- Sidekick: Kervin Castro (.039). IP (3 batters), BB, K
- Billy Goat: P.J. Higgins (-.141). 0-3, 2K
- Goat: Nick Madrigal (-.129). 0-4
- Kid: Franmil Reyes (-.110). 0-3, K
WPA Play of the Game: Albert Pujols homered leading off the seventh inning off of Drew Smyly to provide the only run of the game. (.194)
*Cubs Play of the Game: With a runner on first and one out in the sixth, the game was still scoreless. Smyly got Paul Goldschmidt to foul out. (.043)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Christopher Morel (1-3, 2B)
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 5/Bottom 5)
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 +22.5
- Nico Hoerner +20.5
- Christopher Morel +18
- Scott Effross +17
- Patrick Wisdom +12.5
- Daniel Norris/Frank Schwindel -9.5
- Yan Gomes -10
- Jason Heyward -15.5
- Rafael Ortega -16.5
Up Next: Two games today, one in the afternoon, one in the evening. Javier Assad is getting the call to make his major league debut in Game 1. Shame on me for not paying quite enough attention to Josh’s writing. I had to go digging to identify Javier, but shame on me, he’s been terrific at Iowa. He’ll face Adam Wainwright (9-8, 3.11), another Cardinal who it feels like has been around forever.
In Game 2 the Cubs send Adrian Sampson (1-3, 3.51) who is coming off of his first win of the season. He’ll face Jake Woodford (2-0, 2.66). It’ll be a long day of baseball and I’ll have one recap to cover both games on Wednesday for you.