I need to see some frustrating numbers after a game like that. So let’s go to the two I’ve quoted most often. The Cubs are 15-29 since the end of the A’s series. Without bothering to do any math, I can eyeball that as more than a month and a half of baseball winning just over a third of their games. Right here, right now, there are five teams with a worse record than the Cubs. But at the rate they are winning games, they will absolutely “catch” two more of them. The Royals and A’s appear to be so putrid that the Cubs are safe from reaching the bottom. But hey, the A’s are riding a two-game winning streak and have won four of 10.
The Cubs last won a game where the other team scored more than two runs on May 10. 24 games ago. That was, of course, against the Cardinals. That is one of the four teams with a worse record than them. Before that, it was April 10. 51 games ago. The only saving grace is that they are 22-3 when they hold an opponent to two or fewer runs. Without looking around, 25 is a pretty decent number of those games. And 22-3 isn’t too shabby either, though obviously you expect a good record when you hold your opponent to two or less runs. For reference, the Rays, who have a good record in every situation, have 28 games where they hold an opponent to two or less runs. They are 24-4 in that spot.
If it wasn’t for the Cubs starting rotation being as good as it is, this team would be much worse than it is. The Cubs are 4-32 if the other team scores more than two runs. If you are a casual viewer who doesn’t watch every inning of every game, turn the TV off after the Cubs allow their third run. Because history says the game is over.
The timing of that thought is appropriate. The Cubs allowed the obligatory homer to one of the two Angels greats when Mike Trout hit a fourth-inning solo homer to start the scoring. But the Cubs pounced in the fifth inning and scored two runs. That’s pretty good. At least they are getting leads in some of these games.
The Angels weren’t having it. The very first batter of the fifth inning hit a solo homer to tie it. Shohei Ohtani worked a two out walk and then stole two bases. It’s fun to watch great players play. The Angels sport two of them with a Hall of Fame trajectory. Obviously Ohtani is just getting started and that requires a lot of projection and good health, but he’s accomplishing mind boggling stuff.
The Cubs drew three walks in the sixth inning, but didn’t cash in. It certainly doesn’t help that the Cubs never had another hit in this game after Miguel Amaya singled with no outs in the fifth to give the Cubs that brief lead. It was quite the contrast. The Angels drew a pair of walks in the bottom of the inning. They turned that and three hits into four runs. That’s some nifty efficiency.
A little gallows humor. After writing yesterday that Marcus Stroman and Cody Bellinger appear to have much trade value, Mark Leiter Jr. came into the game. My brain immediately added that he’d be worth more than a bag of baseballs in a trade. Alas, Leiter faced five batters and retired only two of them. Leiter has been touched now twice recently. Hopefully Cinderella’s coach isn’t turning back into a pumpkin.
It’s bad. There aren’t a lot of signs of it getting better. This is frustrating. When I predicted the Cubs to win 75 games in the preseason, I thought I was being a little on the pessimistic side. Right now, that pick looks optimistic. Very optimistic. Right now, they are on a pace to win 66 games. 66 games and trending downwards over those last 44 games as I said at the top.
I said often over the last two months of last season that the road to the top isn’t a straight line. You don’t just get admission to the winners lounge with a sustained stretch of strong play. There is no birthright. You have to do the work and put together an excellent team. And then you have to execute day in and day out. Major League teams are good. If you can’t execute, even the bad ones will beat you. The margins are bigger against those bad teams. But if you are walking a lot of batters, missing plays on defense and failing to cash in on offensive opportunities, you are going to get beaten. All too many nights those things are happening for this team.
Let’s try to find some positives after another loss.
- I’m pretty sure that Mike Tauchman is the correct answer for the first spot. He had a single, scored a run, and also drew a walk. The Cubs managed three hits and four walks total. So Mike was a standout performer.
- With very little to work with, Miguel Amaya with an RBI-single probably belongs in the other spot. He had another long fly ball that stayed in the park, but Amaya makes some really good contact. It’s early, but Amaya is certainly in the running for best “story” on the 2023 Cubs. He is perhaps the most surprisingly good player on the team to this point.
- I’ll give Ian Happ the last spot on the back of two more walks. He’s moved up to second in all of baseball in that category. He’s 11 walks behind Juan Soto, who has drawn 56 walks in 62 games. With 10 homers and 57 strikeouts, Soto registers as a three outcome player. Which is weird, because I’d never look at him and see that. Back to Happ: Every now and then you get a counterintuitive conversation about a hitter being “too” patient. I think maybe Barry Bonds heard it the most. But occasionally you wonder if one of the best players on the team should be more aggressive. I’m not there, but at this point Happ isn’t doing much more than drawing walks.
Game 61, June 7: Angels 6, Cubs 2 (26-35)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Mike Tauchman (.076). 1-3, BB, R, K
- Hero: Miguel Amaya (.070). 1-3, RBI
- Sidekick: Ian Happ (.041). 0-2, 2BB, K
- Billy Goat: Mark Leiter Jr. (-.316). ⅔ IP, 5 batters, 2H, BB, 2R, 2K
- Goat: Seiya Suzuki (-.086). 0-4, K
- Kid: Nico Hoerner (-.081). 0-4
WPA Play of the Game: With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the sixth, the Cubs were down one. Mickey Moniak doubled and all three runs scored. Game. Set. Match. (.190)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Trey Mancini batted with a runner on second with no outs in the fifth, the Cubs down one. He doubled and tied the score. (.137)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
Yesterday’s Winner: Julian Merryweather (Superhero is 42-18)
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings:
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.
- Marcus Stroman +19
- Dansby Swanson +11.5
- Ian Happ +11
- Justin Steele +10
- Adbert Alzolay +9
- Michael Fulmer -8
- Nico Hoerner -8.5
- Jameson Taillon -10
- Patrick Wisdom -11
- Trey Mancini -15
Up Next: The Cubs will try to salvage one win in Anaheim. Drew Smyly (5-3, 3.56, 65⅔ IP) gets the start for the Cubs. Drew has lost his last two starts, allowing eight earned runs in just 10⅓ innings.
The Angels counter with 23-year-old. lefty Reid Detmers (0-5, 5.15, 50⅔ IP). The former 10th overall pick has had it rough in the early going. He too has lost his last two starts allowing seven earned runs in his last 10 innings. This is the spot where I’ve been pointing out that the Cubs are very good against lefty starters. But they’ve lost the last two such games and looked feeble Sunday night. They are still 11-8 in such situations. (15-27 versus righty starters!)