If your name is Cody Bellinger, nice game. Hit the showers. Everyone else? You had a bad game. Just a reminder, this is the kind of sloppy play and sloppy managing that briefly had you in last place in the division and near the bottom of the NL. To be clear and fair, every coach, manager and player from the biggest star to the last guys on the roster have forgettable games. To be also fair, it is generally advisable to try not to all clump those things together.
To Drew Smyly and the Cubs coaching staff: Letting Pete Alonso crush you is just silly at this point. Their roster is depleted and he had crushed two no-doubters and driven in five runs long before the rains came. I know it is not easy to just never pitch to a guy. But there is an old adage about not letting the best player on the other team beat you. I think that’s particularly true against a not good team. But Francisco Lindor was on in front of him twice. That certainly helped put the Cubs in a predicament.
Further on Smyly, his performance has fallen off of a cliff. He’s had one good start since June 19. The June 19 game was against a Pirates team that was in full freefall after a strong start to the year. After that, his one good appearance was on July 28. He didn’t start the game, but threw 4⅓ innings, allowing one run on two hits and a walk. I get the idea that maybe he worked something out and you jumped at it and threw him back in the rotation. Then he got rocked by the Reds, allowing five runs, three homers, and didn’t finish the fifth inning. This would have been an interesting game with a storm that had already rained out baseball in Philadelphia bearing down on New York.
Staying with the pitching, fast forward to the sixth inning. The rains had come, you knew once they started, there was going to be a long delay that either ended up with a suspended game or a lengthy delay. That inning was not well thought out. I get why you try to get Smyly through the sixth. But when he didn’t, you bring in Caleb Kilian? The bullpen is struggling with over usage across the board due to all of the starters struggling of late. A) that’s a tough spot for a guy who normally isn’t a reliever. B) The game was already circling the drain after the two homers and then Smyly was in trouble again. Barring a miracle, the game was going to be even further out of reach. Wouldn’t you want Kilian, a pitcher who was stretched out to start, to finish out the game to save the relievers?
I’m not going to leave the offense out of this. Yes, Kodai Senga is a good pitcher, so I get it. But boy, is it frustrating to watch a guy throw seemingly every pitch out of the strike zone while the Cubs hitters just kept flailing at them. The team drew two walks, They were both drawn by arguably the biggest free swinger on the team.
The cherry on top was the Cubs fifth inning. They were finally breaking through against Senga. As this offense has done so many times of late, they were coming off the mat and trying to comeback. Nico Hoerner and Ian Happ had back to back singles. This team has become so deadly with two outs of late. Cody Bellinger came to the plate with a chance to bring the Cubs back within one. He lined a single to left and Ian Happ went into third standing. I guess the explanation given on the broadcast is the one that makes the most sense. Ian was preparing to make an aggressive turn around third in case the throw went to second. Too cute by far. The ball was hit to left and it was well struck. There’s as much chance that throw is coming towards third as second. You need to be sliding into third there. He didn’t, he over slid third and was the third out of the inning instead of Dansby Swanson come to the plate representing the tying run against a pitcher who is maybe on the ropes a little.
This was all so predictable. This series actually made me more nervous than the ones on either side of it. Don’t get me wrong, I’d have been happy with even one win in the Braves series. But with seven straight days of playoff atmosphere baseball, and three more competitive games on the other side of this series. This series sees a team that was put together to win a championship, underachieved and then traded off a half dozen players at the deadline. So a struggling team, but one that still has a fair amount of talent in the locker room. This is a classic trap series. Particularly on day 14 of 16 straight games.
Before I leave it alone, at least for a day or two, let me again say how asinine the schedule for the Cubs is. 16 straight games played, then they’ll have three days off in eight days. I don’t know precisely how many days off and don’t care enough to research it. It’s maybe 20 days off from opening day to the end of the season? Maybe a few more. The Cubs had three days off around the London series. They had four days off for the All-Star break, just like all of the other teams do. Then they have three in eight days, I guess to make travel back and forth to Toronto to be easier. I’ve never tried to cross that border. How hard is it? The trip from New York to Toronto is one of those flights where it feels like you are landing as soon as you take off. Then, finally they get an extra day because of the two-game series against the White Sox. Next year as I understand it there will be a day off on a Sunday. MLB scheduling has hopefully reached peak stupid, because I sure don’t want to see it get more convoluted.
That’s about a thousand words griping about a lousy game. Hopefully, it’s one game. These things happen and not of it takes away the absolute joy that the last couple of months have been following this team. Part of the fun being a fan is that we are allowed to feel both things, right? I can love this team and the run they’ve made. And I can be frustrated by a sloppy game. For me? I’m finishing this out and then tearing off the page and moving on.
Let’s try to find three stars in this mess.
- Cody Bellinger had three hits in three at bats, all singles. He drove in both of the two runs. Cody remains insanely hot. The man will receive serious consideration for the MVP. I don’t think he’s likely to win, but if he stays healthy and this team reaches the playoffs, he’ll definitely be in the mix for the award.
- The Cubs only had nine hits in this one and none of them were extra base hits. Nico Hoerner was the only other Cub with multiple hits. He had a pair of singles and scored a run.
- Caleb Kilian inherited three baserunners with no outs and the Cubs down four. For a guy who’s had struggles each time he’s been to the majors previously, that’s quite a spot to be dropped in. A guy who has almost universally started games, he certainly doesn’t have a ton of experience inheriting traffic. But Caleb pulls off the rare feat of facing two batters and recording three outs. The double play ball that he induced led to a run being scored, but helped extricate the Cubs from the situation.
Game 113, August 8: Mets 11, Cubs 2 (58-55)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Cody Bellinger (.141). 3-3, 2 RBI
- Hero: Mike Tauchman (.026). 1-5
- Sidekick: Christopher Morel (.020). 0-2, 2 BB, K
- Billy Goat: Drew Smyly (-.378). 5 IP, 27 batters, 8 H, 2 BB, 7 R, 5 K, 2 HBP (L 8-8)
- Goat: Yan Gomes (-.061). 0-4, 2 K
- Kid: Nico Hoerner (-.059). 2-4, R, 2 K
WPA Play of the Game: With runners on first and second and one out in the first inning, it was scoreless when Pete Alonso stepped to the plate. His three run homer would end up being all of the offense the Mets would need. (.229)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Cody Bellinger batted with runners on first and second with two outs in the third. He delivered a single and the Cubs were only down two. (.090)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
Yesterday’s Player of the Game: Cody Bellinger (Superhero is 74-38)
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 5/Bottom 5)
- Cody Bellinger +32
- Ian Happ +17.5
- Marcus Stroman +12
- Adbert Alzolay/Justin Steele/Mike Tauchman +11
- Seiya Suzuki -9
- Jameson Taillon -13
- Patrick Wisdom/Drew Smyly -15
- Trey Mancini -20.5
Up Next: The Cubs held their grasp on the third Wild Card slot for one game. With the loss, they drop to one game out of that. They also fall back to 2½ games back in the division. The Cubs have had exceptional luck over the last week with all of the teams around them losing repeatedly. They had less of that Monday night. Still, the Marlins, the Diamondbacks and the Padres lost. So they’ve remained in the fourth position. The Marlins and Diamondbacks are in full out free fall at the moment. That along with the Cubs being on fire allowed them to make up a very large amount of ground very fast.
The Cubs will turn to Jameson Taillon (6-6, 5.36, 94 IP) to try to make this loss an isolated incident. Jameson has been red hot. He is 4-1 with a 3.57 ERA over his last seven starts (40⅓ IP). He’s won his last three starts, allowing four runs on 17 hits over 16⅔ innings. It’s been a striking turnaround after his early season struggles. Let’s hope he can keep it rolling.
Carlos Carrasco, the 36-year-old righty, will start for the Mets. Carrasco has had a really rough season. He’s 3-6 with a 6.60 ERA in 76⅓ innings. Over seven starts, it isn’t any better. He’s 1-3 with a 6.96 ERA in just 32⅓ innings. He’s lost three straight starts, allowing 17 earned runs in just 10⅔ innings. The one flashing yellow light for this game is that Carlos had one of his best starts of the year at Wrigley Field. He had his second longest outing of the season, throwing 6⅔ innings allowing five hits, two walks and one run. He also threw a season high 100 pitches.