I know I have a little PTSD when I can remember lots of games that followed this script going the other way: A seemingly good-looking game turns to fool’s gold. I considered walking away from the game Tuesday night after five innings. I’ve watched more baseball in less time than I have in quite a while. With the bats struggling and Hayden Wesneski scuffling, I was not looking forward to writing about a fourth straight loss after a near-perfect opening day win.
Then something that will almost certainly not happen again this year for the Cubs occurred. The Cubs scored 11 runs in four innings. To be sure there were a couple of rough plays by the Cincinnati defense and a whole lot of subpar pitching over those four innings. But, the Cubs got production almost top to bottom in the lineup. Ironically, after hitting in all of the Cubs’ first four games, Dansby Swanson was one of just two Cubs not to get a hit in this one. Clearly the stress of trying to chase Emilio Bonifacio proved to be too much.
I’m unable to ignore that the Cubs got three rough starts after two terrific ones to start the season. I’ve listened to all of the comments about being amped up for the first start. I’m a little more able to swallow that at least for Hayden Wesneski on his first opening day roster than guys like Jameson Taillon and Drew Smyly who have been around a few different blocks in their respective careers.
But beyond that, Al controls the complaint department, but I don’t have much to complain about here. The Cubs did what they needed to and now their best pitcher, at least for now, has a chance to get them a series win. Two out of three is two out of three on the road, even when you feel like you could have maybe squeezed out a sweep. We’ll get to it later, but I remain firmly in the corner of healthy Marcus Stroman.
We turn our attention to three positives from Tuesday’s second win of the season.
- An easy choice for me with Ian Happ reaching base the first five times he batted. Two singles, a double, two walks, two runs, and a run batted in. I think it’s possible Ian likes hitting in Cincinnati.
- This one was a little trickier, but after taking one off of the wrist, I’m going with Patrick Wisdom here. Three hits, two of them doubles, three runs driven in and two scored. It would kill so much of the joy in baseball if I couldn’t report to you that he is on pace for 162 runs batted in. Oh and 65 homers and 65 doubles. (Did anyone point out that even after going hitless, Dansby Swanson is still on pace for 324 hits?)
- When 12 runs are scored, there are going to be some tough snubs. I’m going with Cody Bellinger in the last spot. He had three hits and a walk in six plate appearances. He drove in a run and scored a run. I don’t think any of the Cubs’ first seven hitters would be a terrible choice for one of these three spots.
With that settled, let’s turn attention to the Heroes and Goats from Tuesday’s win.
Game 5, April 4: Cubs 12 at Reds 5 (2-3)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Ian Happ (.328). 3-4, 2BB, 2B, RBI, 2R, K
- Hero: Nico Hoerner (.132). 3-6, 2B, 3R (I know I’m carried away, but a 194-run pace)
- Sidekick: Eric Hosmer (.112). 2-5, 2B, 2RBI
- Billy Goat: Yan Gomes (-.121). 0-5, 2K, DP
- Goat: Hayden Wesneski (-.092). 4⅔ IP (20 batters faced), 6H, 2BB, 3R, 4K
- Kid: Miles Mastrobuoni (-.056). 1-5, RBI, SB, K
WPA Play of the Game: Believe it or not, the Reds led 3-2 in the seventh when Ian Happ faced Buck Farmer with runners on first and second with no outs. He doubled, scoring a run and tying the game. (.234)
*Reds Play of the Game: The game was tied 1-1 in the bottom of the third with two outs when T.J. Friedl took Hayden Wesneski deep. (.115)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game
This poll is closed
Patrick Wisdom (3-5, 2-2B, 3RBI, 2R)
Cody Bellinger (3-5, BB, RBI, R)
Somebody else (leave a suggestion in the comments
Yesterday’s Player of the Game: Keegan Thompson (The Superhero is 3-1 in voting)
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.
- Dansby Swanson/Ian Happ +5
- Marcus Stroman/Justin Steele/Patrick Wisdom/Nico Hoerner +3
- Julian Merryweather/Drew Smyly/Miles Mastrobuoni -3
- Yan Gomes -6
- Cody Bellinger -7
Up Next: The two teams square off with the winner taking two out of three in this series. The Cubs will send Marcus Stroman (1-0, 0.00) to the mound looking to repeat his dominant first outing. The Reds counter with Hunter Greene (0-1, 8.10) who had a rougher first outing, despite striking out eight in just 3⅓ innings. Greene, the second overall pick in 2017, is talented. But I think the Cubs can make it two straight and head into a tricky-looking stretch of games at 3-3. Hopefully, the bats can carry their momentum through to the finale.