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2023 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 94

The Cubs take out a bit of angst on the Nationals in a 17-3 win.

Washington Nationals v Chicago Cubs Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

I have to have said it a dozen times already. This is something the Cubs have been good at all year. The Cubs have a real knack for piling on in games they have a decent lead. Counting Tuesday night, the Cubs are now 23-0 when scoring at least seven runs. They’ve scored 227 runs in those games. Just shy of 10 runs per game. They’ve scored 450 overall. In the 71 games they haven’t scored at least seven, they’ve scored 223 runs. That’s a little over three runs per game. It has literally been a feast or famine offense.

Make no mistake, by definition, you are going to score a ton more runs in highest scoring games. This is pretty obvious territory. I suspect the Cubs have a very large number of these high-scoring games given that they aren’t a high-scoring team in general. The team in the other dugout this series has even more trouble scoring. Through Tuesday, they have an even 400 runs scored. They are 17-2 when they score seven runs or more. Across all of baseball, teams are 588-83 when scoring seven. It’s just an oddity that the Cubs are both undefeated in such games, that more than half their wins come in such games and that they are doing so in just under a quarter of their games.

This is a classic situation where the final score didn’t resemble the game at all. And this is one of the reasons that I’m just not moved by the Cubs run differential. When things start rolling, they are outstanding at piling on. The Nationals scored one in the first and two in the second before Jameson Taillon settled in. He ended up allowing three runs over 5⅔, which is okay, I suppose. It just misses a minimum qualification quality start. Of course, most of us raise at least a little bit of an eyebrow at a minimum qualification quality start actually being a quality start in our own definition.

The game was 3-0 through three, 3-1 through five, 3-3 through six. It was a tight one, right? Well, not after the Cubs scored 14 runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Amos Willingham faced seven batters, allowed four hits, hit a batter and was charged with four runs. This was his seventh major league game and he had a 7.71 ERA before this outing. It won’t be surprising if he’s headed back to the minors after getting knocked around.

The Nats then brought in Paolo Espino to pitch the eighth. Paolo has bounced around between the minors and the majors since 2020 (he actually originally debuted back in 2017, then disappeared until the pandemic season). He’s done some starting, starting 41 games, including 19 each in 2021 and 2022. The net result? He has a career MLB ERA of 4.73 prior to this appearance. This is his third outing this year and he now has a 24.75 ERA. But hey, FIP thinks it should only be 7.28. Is that even consolation? Espino was charged with eight runs amongst 10 batters faced. he allowed seven hits and two walks. But hey, he struck out one.

I largely ignored Jose A. Ferrer, who faced five batters and allowed two runs on two hits and a walk. Ferrer is in his rookie season. He’d worked in seven prior games, totaling six innings of work with a 4.50 ERA. Two runs in one inning bounced that up to 6.43.

Put simply, the back of the Nats bullpen is a hot mess and the Cubs pounded them. I’m sure it felt good and I imagine it was a lot of fun. But you don’t get multiple wins for winning by a multiplied number of runs. If the playoffs were based on run differential, the Cubs would be on track for the postseason. Only four N.L. teams have a better run differential. Of course, that’s not how anything is decided. Instead, the Cubs feel like a second tier FBS team in college football. Running up the score against lesser teams, trying to snag a third-tier bowl game. Instead, the Marlins with their -15 run differential are hovering in the playoff picture due to their ability to win close games (21-8 in one-run games).

Let’s pick three positives. Obviously, in a game like this, there will be some good options.

  1. Every time I looked up, Seiya Suzuki was contributing to the offense. He had a four-hit night that included a homer. He drove in three and scored two. For that, he’s my player of the game.
  2. Nico Hoerner also added three hits. He drove in two and scored two.
  3. Miles Mastrobuoni had the first three hit game of his career. He came in at .155/.268/.197 on the year and raises it in one day to .184/.287/.224 (wRC+ 49). To be sure, those numbers remain awful, but they do bump his season OPS by about .050.

Game 94, July 18: Cubs 17, Nationals 3 (44-50)

Fangraphs

Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.

THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero: Cody Bellinger (.222). 2-4, BB, 2 R, K
  • Hero: Seiya Suzuki (.171). 4-6, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 2K
  • Sidekick: Patrick Wisdom (.161). 2-4, HR, BB, RBI, 2 R

THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat: Jameson Taillon (-104). 5⅔ IP, 24 batters, 7 H, BB, 3R, 4K
  • Goat: Miguel Amaya (-.085). 2-5, 3 RBI, R, 2K

*Amaya: Third out on the second inning, first out of the fifth inning, third out in the sixth with two on and the game tied. The Cubs scored four times before he batted again. He had a two-run single, but was also the third out on the bases. They score seven more times before he bats again and he has an RBI single.

  • Kid: Trey Mancini (-.079). 0-2, K, DP

WPA Play of the Game: Patrick Wisdom led off the seventh inning with a solo homer to give the Cubs their fourth run. That run ended up being the winning run. (.205)

*Nationals Play of the Game: Lane Thomas was the second batter of the game and the first to score when he hit a one-out homer. (.101)

Poll

Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Cody Bellinger
    (16 votes)
  • 74%
    Seiya Suzuki
    (105 votes)
  • 12%
    Patrick Wisdom
    (18 votes)
  • 1%
    Someone else (leave your suggestions in the comments)
    (2 votes)
141 votes total Vote Now

Yesterday’s Winner: Cody Bellinger (Superhero is 63-30)

Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 5/Bottom 5)

  • Marcus Stroman +21
  • Ian Happ +18.5
  • Mike Tauchman/Justin Steele +11
  • Cody Bellinger +9
  • Julian Merryweather -6.5
  • Michael Fulmer -7
  • Patrick Wisdom -11
  • Jameson Taillon -17
  • Trey Mancini -19

Cody Bellinger is +10 in five games since the break and +16 in July.

Up Next: Kyle Hendricks will try to complete the series win for the Cubs. Kyle is 3-4 with a 3.57 ERA in 58 innings. The overall numbers are good, but he’s allowed nine runs on 18 hits in 10 13 in his last two starts, sandwiched around the All-Star break. He’ll need to bounce back.

The Nationals don’t have a starter listed in their probable pitchers list at this writing, but their game notes indicate Trevor Williams will make this start. The former Cub is 5-5 with a 4.42 ERA in 93⅔ IP. Like Hendricks, he started on the 14th. So he’s lined up. He was lifted after just 52 pitches in that game, allowing a homer, a walk and hitting a batter in just 2⅔ IP. He did strike out five. He threw 5⅓ scoreless against the Cubs on May 2, allowing four hits and a walk.