If you were someone who knew me, you’d know there is always an analogy. Fair warning: This one might be a little strained. So I tried to sum up how I feel about today’s game. Hopefully all of you reading what I have to write have been in some long-term relationships. When you’ve been in one and you break up, sometimes the world conspires one way or another for you to have to spend a big chunk of time together. Sometimes, that day goes really great. It reminds one or both of you of the good times when things were great. It’s easy to forget whatever was fundamentally wrong that caused the breakup.
So totally, by the end of that road trip, I’m not sure if my break was feeling permanent or just temporary. But I can tell you for sure, even after this terrific looking game, we are totally not getting back together. This doesn’t fix anything and I’m just not going to fall for you just because you were on your best behavior this afternoon noon. It’s just not going to work, ok?
And I know we were on a break, because I was totally tearing up listening to Matt Mervis’ dad talk on the broadcast. I have to say that it was a lovely interview on the TV broadcast. The only problem was that I was working and listening to the TV broadcast so that I could turn my attention to the game if anything interesting was happening. And so when the interview ended and Justin Steele was in his only jam of the day with literally no warning, it was really, really jarring. With a daughter who hopes to find herself on TV covering baseball, I can’t be clearer that I thought that Taylor McGregor did a terrific interview. It just ended up horribly placed on the broadcast.
Let’s do a little long form on the three positive performances of the game.
Justin Steele definitely gets the top spot. Look, when Jake Arrieta was JAKE!, he was immortal, right? He was 14 feet tall, and smote whole armies with his icy glare, right? Speaking of relationship analogies, it is way too soon to cheat on Jake. But y’all, who thought we’d live to see another stretch of 14 starts with two earned runs or fewer by a Cubs starter? Steele has done it. In those 14 starts, he’s thrown 80 innings with a 1.24 ERA. That’s good, right? I mean he could at least open for Jake, right?
A couple of days ago, when Ian Happ reached base four times, you guys weren’t buying his big game. Not enough impact seemed to be the perception. Well, how about a two-run homer that ended up being the difference in the game heading into the late innings. That gave Steele some much needed breathing room at the time. You want to see excellence out of your pitchers? How about this for a two-step program? Get them the lead, then add on to it. A pitcher can be an awful lot like a strong running back. Give them a little lead and let them run downhill and they become so much more deadly. Happ also drew another walk. He continues to be among the major league leaders in drawing walks.
I had a couple of choices for the last spot. A first career hit and RBI is a sentimental choice, The Leit Show picked up his first save of the year, and Michael Fulmer continues his redemption story. Any of those are reasonable choices. I’ll go a little different. Nico Hoerner had an unusual two strikeout day. But he also had two hits. The latter hit was a double. But the former was a single that completely disrupted the first inning. Hoerner twice broke for second while the pitcher was still holding the ball. Eventually, he drew a balk. A passed ball later and he basically walked home on a single off the bat of Seiya Suzuki to give the Cubs a welcome early lead.
Game 32, May 5: Cubs 4, Marlins 1 (16-16)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Justin Steele (.335). 7IP, 26 batters, 6H, R, 4K, BK (W 5-0)
- Hero: Ian Happ (.169). 1-3, HR, BB, RBI, R, K
- Sidekick: Michael Fulmer (.073). IP, 4 batters, H
- Billy Goat: Dansby Swanson (.058). 1-4, R, 2K
- Goat: Patrick Wisdom (-.051). 0-4, 4K
- Kid: Cody Bellinger (-.046). 1-4, R, 2K
WPA Play of the Game: The Cubs were up one in the fifth when Ian Happ batted with a runner on first and two outs. He slugged a two-run homer to extend the lead to three. (.187) After a terrible trip with runners in scoring position and with two outs all four runs came with two outs and two of the four were in scoring position at the time.
*Marlins Play of the Game: With the Cubs up three in the top of the sixth, Luis Arraez continued his torrid start to the season with a one out single with a man on. (.064)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Nico Hoerner (2-4, 2B, R)
Matt Mervis (1-4, RBI)
Mark Leiter Jr. (IP, 3 batters, H, K, Sv)
Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
Yesterday’s Winner: Javier Assad (Superhero 21-10)
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.
- Justin Steele +13
- Marcus Stroman/Ian Happ +11
- Mark Leiter Jr. +7.5
- Drew Smyly +6
- Four Players -4
- Julian Merryweather -4.5
- Michael Fulmer -5
- Nico Hoerner -6
- Patrick Wisdom -7.5
Up Next: Game two of the three-game set. The Marlins will looking to be snapping a four game skid and now it is they who are under .500 as the Cubs got back even with the win. Lefty Drew Smyly (3-1, 2.83, 35 IP) starts for the Cubs. If a pitcher who flirted with a perfect game can be flying under the radar, then Drew is sneaky good as the Cubs’ third best starter so far this year. He had a clunker in his opening start, but has been fantastic since. Last time out, he threw seven innings allowing one run. He collected the win, the only win for the Cubs on an otherwise losing trip.
The Marlins counter with righty Bryan Hoeing. Hoeing (0-1, 6.23, 8⅔ IP) has just two games in his ‘23 ledger. In the first, he was touched for four runs in less than four innings at Atlanta. The second was last Sunday against the Cubs when he threw five innings and allowed two runs. He’s got a 9.70 ERA in his young career that includes only three previous starts. The Cubs will look to do better this time around. The Cubs haven’t won back-to-back games since April 19 when they left Oakland. They haven’t won consecutive games at home since April 10 and 11.