Boy, do I wish the pitching performance of Marcus Stroman was the central story of this game. Those of you who are regular readers here know that I’ll be talking about him, but first I have to give credit where it is due. The two top stories of Sunday’s game are Miles Mikolas and Albert Pujols.
For Mikolas, there were eight shutout innings allowing only two hits and a walk. For Mikolas, he is now 5-3 with a 2.16 in 14 starts plus two relief appearances covering 87⅔ innings in his career against the Cubs. Those numbers are tops among teams he has faced five or more times. The Cubs did beat him the last time they saw him in Wrigley Field, but he’s been a handful for the Cubs since he returned to the states after a mid-career trip to Japan.
For Pujols, he hit the decisive two-run homer. For his career, that was home run number 695. 59 of those homers have come against the Cubs and 149 runs batted in as well. He finishes his career with a .999 OPS against the Cubs. It was obvious once I saw it, but Albert’s largest number of homers were against the Astros at 62. He, of course, played many more games against them than the Cubs since they moved to the AL during his career, allowing him to see them plenty with the Cardinals but also during his time with the Angels.
Hat tips aside, this space is always about the Cubs. Not a lot went right for the Cubs on Sunday. But giant kudos to Marcus Stroman who was also terrific. Stroman threw seven innings allowing only four hits and no walks. Against a team that is heading to an NL Central crown, that’s one heck of a performance. I talked about him having a strong September to remember this season by. This start was definitely a great one to kick that off.
Stroman is clearly the number one positive. Franmil Reyes gets the second. Franmil had a double and a walk to account for half of the Cubs baserunners. Christopher Morel gets the third spot as he had the team’s other hit.
And so the Cubs were responsible for a four-game swing in the NL Central standings. They only won six games against the Cardinals this year but defeated the Brewers 10 times in 2022. There is a lot of baseball still to be played, but it seems like the Cardinals would be fine regardless as that’s only about half of their lead over the Brewers. After the way the Brewers derailed the 2021 Cubs (winning 15 of 19), those who were around for that certainly took some pleasure from being a thorn in the side of the 2022 Brewers.
Let’s get to the Heroes and Goats from Sunday’s loss.
Game 134, September 4: Cardinals 2, Cubs 0 (56-78)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Marcus Stroman (.425). 7IP (25 batters), 4H, 5K
- Hero: Franmil Reyes (.014). 1-2, 2B, BB
- Sidekick: Manuel Rodriguez (.003). ⅓ IP (1 batter)
- Billy Goat: Brandon Hughes (-.335). ⅔ IP (4 batters), 2H, 2R (2-2)
- Goat: Seiya Suzuki (-.154). 0-4, DP
- Kid: Ian Happ (-.120). 0-3, DP
WPA Play of the Game: Albert Pujols’ eighth inning pinch-hit, two-run homer supplied all of the offense in this game. (.291)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Zach McKinstry walked with one out in the ninth. (.047)
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 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
- Scott Effross +17
- Nico Hoerner +16.5
- Christopher Morel +15
- Patrick Wisdom +13.5
- Daniel Norris/Frank Schwindel/Rowan Wick -9.5
- Yan Gomes -12
- Rafael Ortega -13.5
- Jason Heyward -15.5
Up Next: An off day on Labor Day for the Cubs. Feels like a bit of irony, but the Cubs will take it. With the short trip home from St. Louis and a homestand starting Tuesday, this is one they can enjoy.
On Tuesday, they open a series with the Reds. Of course, due to the late start to the season due to the lockout and rescheduled games that resulted, the Cubs have nine game left against the Reds (53-79), including six at home. The teams are separated by one game in the standings. Wade Miley (1-0, 2.84) has actually pitched well the handful of times he’s been healthy enough to do so this year. Justin Dunn (1-2, 4.63) will provide the opposition.