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2023 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 128

Silenced in Pittsburgh, the Cubs lose 2-1.

Chicago Cubs v Detroit Tigers Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Harrumph. Let’s see some things I typed yesterday after writing about Thursday’s win.

A similar measure was their record in one-run games. On May 21, the Cubs lost 2-1 at Philadelphia. Their overall record stood at 20-26, and their record in one-run games stood at 2-10. Included in there are all three of the Cubs losses when they’ve allowed two runs and one where they allowed three. Go back up two paragraphs. The Cubs are 49-6 when they allow three or fewer. Four of the six losses in that situation happened within the first 46 games. Pretty wacky.

With the win Thursday night, the Cubs are now 17-15 in one run games. 2-10 over the first 46 games. 15-5 over the last 91 games.

The Cubs have been rolling in one-run games and with my love for numerology, I’ll note that the Cubs hadn’t lost 2-1 since May 21 in Philadelphia. Game 46. 82 games ago.

The Pirates will start 27-year-old righty Mitch Keller. Mitch was a second round pick (64 overall) for the Pirates in 2014. Mitch is 10-8 with a 4.22 ERA in 155⅔ innings. He’s struggled a bit lately though, going 1-4 with a 6.98 ERA over his last seven. Going further, he’s 4-7 with a 5.17 over his last 15. That said, he won his last start in Minnesota, allowing two runs over seven. The start before that he held Cincinnati to one run over six and got a no-decision. So a bit of a mixed bag. He’s bouncing back after a really rough stretch. The Cubs have missed him so far in 2023.

Keller had struggled over the last few months, but he had turned things recently. On Friday night, he faced 29 batters and allowed four hits, a walk and hit a batter. He struck out six.

Kyle Hendricks was pretty good, allowing two runs over 5⅔ innings. The two runs were allowed in the first inning. Couldn’t have known it at the time, but that was the ball game.

Keller was perfect until the fourth when Ian Happ doubled. Happ is clearly the Cubs Player of the Game. He double and homered. Those were the only two extra base hits for the team on the day. It accounted for the lone run. He did hit into a double play, but hard to hold that against him when he supplied all of the offense.

Jose Cuas inherited two runners from Hendricks. He got a ground out to end that inning. He allowed a single and a walk to start the next inning, but he worked around that with a fly out and a double play grounder to close out the seventh. That’s my number two player.

Kyle Hendricks gets that third spot. Two runs over 5⅔ is good for me.

I don’t have much to say about this game. I didn’t put it into context much. There isn’t a lot to say. The Cubs pitching was good enough to win. The hitting was silenced. It was a 10th consecutive game decided by one or two runs. An interesting upside to this one is that none of the Cubs leverage relievers worked in this game and yet the Cubs still had a chance to pull this one out late.

I didn’t pick Drew Smyly as one of my top three, though I could have. He faced three batters in the eighth and retired them all. In four “true” relief appearances (excluding those when he entered after an “opener” started), he’s thrown four scoreless innings, allowed two hits and only faced 13 batters. He’s struck out four of those 13 hitters and one of the two hits was erased trying to reach second on a single. He’s been fantastic when used as an actual reliever.

Game 128, August 25: Pirates 2, Cubs 1 (67-61)


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


  • Superhero: Jose Cuas (.057). 1⅓ IP, 5 batters, H, BB
  • Hero: Ian Happ (.033). 2-4, HR, 2B, RBI, R, DP
  • Sidekick: Drew Smyly (.014). IP, 3 batters, K


  • Billy Goat: Cody Bellinger (-.167). 0-4
  • Goat: Mike Tauchman (-.128). 0-4, K
  • Kid: Dansby Swanson (-.121). 0-4, 2 K

WPA Play of the Game: Bryan Reynolds batted with a runner on first with no outs. He doubled putting runners at second and third with no outs and setting up the two decisive runs. (.100)

*Cubs Play of the Game: Ian Happ led off the ninth with a solo homer. (.089)


Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Jose Cuas
    (8 votes)
  • 53%
    Ian Happ
    (52 votes)
  • 2%
    Drew Smyly
    (2 votes)
  • 31%
    Kyle Hendricks (5 2⁄3 IP, 25 batters, 6K, BB, 2R, 4K, HBP, L 5-7)
    (31 votes)
  • 4%
    Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
    (4 votes)
97 votes total Vote Now

Yesterday’s Winner: Justin Steele (Superhero is 86-41)

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.

  • Cody Bellinger +36
  • Ian Happ +17.5
  • Adbert Alzolay +17
  • Justin Steele +13
  • Marcus Stroman +12
  • Michael Fulmer -9
  • Patrick Wisdom -16
  • Drew Smyly -17
  • Jameson Taillon -20
  • Trey Mancini -20.5

Scoreboard watching: The Brewers won their sixth in a row. The Reds lost for a second straight day. The Brewers lead swells to four. The Reds remain a game behind the Cubs. The Phillies win. The Marlins lose. The Giants lose. The Diamondbacks beat the Reds. The Phillies continue to hold the top Wild Card spot. They are 2½ games ahead of the Diamondbacks who have moved into the second spot. The Cubs fall to third. The Giants and Reds are a game back. The Marlins are 2½ out and falling quickly.

Up Next: Javier Assad (2-2, 3.13, 72 IP) starts game three of the series. Javier is 2-0 with a 2.38 ERA over his last seven appearances (four starts) and thrown a total of 27⅔ innings. His last three appearances were all starts. He is 1-0 and has allowed five earned runs over 18⅓ innings in those three outings. He allowed 13 hits and five walks. He struck out 10.

The Pirates start Colin Selby. Selby has yet to start a game. He is 1-0 with a 7.27 ERA over 8 ⅔ innings. Suffice is to say that Selby is an opener. It would otherwise be Osvaldo Bido’s turn in the rotation. Bido is 2-4 with a 5.08 ERA over 44⅓ innings of work. He’s appeared in 13 games, eight of them starts. The 27-year-old righty out of the Dominican Republic debuted in June of this year. The first two of those appearances were starts against the Cubs. He was 0-1 and allowed four runs over 10 innings, allowing nine hits and five walks while striking out 13.