The bright side to this 2023 season, since we moved away from the first third of the season, is that games like this one have been few and far between. Not only did the Cubs lose, not only was it pretty one-sided, but they were pretty much non-competitive. The way things have been, I don’t give this one second of pause. That’s even knowing that it remains possible that the Diamondbacks get into the playoffs and that there are permutations in which they could be the opponent in the Wild Card round for the Cubs.
First and foremost, there is nothing aside from a mass catastrophe event that would leave me disappointed with this Cubs season. This team has been thoroughly enjoyable to cover and well beyond that to be a fan of. I’m reminded of the Garth Brooks song “The Dance.” I assume the majority of you are familiar with it, but the gist of it is that he wouldn’t have wanted to miss the journey just because the ending was gut wrenching. You could tell me right now that this season would end that way and it wouldn’t ruin the pure joy I’ve had in this journey.
Years ago in the old comment system on SB Nation/Bleed Cubbie Blue, in the comments section, you could set a signature that would appear as a footer to your comments. For a couple of seasons early on, I had a comment there that was something to the effect that sometimes you just need to tip your cap to the other guy. This was definitely one of those games. The Diamondbacks came in and they stifled the Cubs offense with a rookie pitcher who spent the last several weeks in Triple-A after getting shelled in a couple of starts in early August. They scored enough runs to really take a late comeback out of the equation.
There wasn’t a lot to enjoy in this one. All three Cub pitchers who threw allowed runs. The one I give most thought to is Javier Assad. All along there have been some peripherals that suggested that he might regress significantly. If that is to be the case, this will be the game where that started. Also, it remains entirely possible that this was a pothole and he goes back to being very good. To my eye, he didn’t look sharp at all and still came a few outs away from a minimum qualification quality start. If Justin Steele had that exact start, we’d talk about how he battled through a night where he wasn’t sharp, provided some innings and kept the game from getting way out of reach.
On offense, we find what passes for three stars of this one.
- Seiya Suzuki is clearly the top star. His triple was the first hit and continues his torrid stretch of hitting. That was a spark in an otherwise spark-less night.
- Nico Hoerner had a pair of hits, one a double, and scored the other run.
- Dansby Swanson had an RBI single in the ninth inning. The Cubs put together a mini rally in the ninth and almost got the tying run to the plate. Kudos to them for fighting to the last out.
Game 141, September 7: Diamondbacks 6, at Cubs 2 (76-65)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Seiya Suzuki (.018). 1-4, 3B, R, 2 K
- Hero: Keegan Thompson (.014). 2⅓ IP, 11 batters, H, 3 BB, 2 R, 2 K
- Sidekick: Mike Tauchman (.005). 0-2, BB
- Billy Goat: Javier Assad (-151). 5⅓ IP, 7 H, BB, 3 R, WP
- Goat: Cody Bellinger (-.069). 1-4
- Kid: Dansby Swanson (-.068). 1-4, RBI
WPA Play of the Game: With a runner on third and one out in the third inning, Ketel Marte faced the Cubs, the Diamondbacks up one. Marte homered, giving the Diamondbacks all of the offense they’d need for the night. (.124)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Pavin Smith batted with runners on first and third with one out in the sixth inning, the Diamondbacks winning by two and looking to blow the game wide open. Smith hit a grounder to first and Cody Bellinger completed a terrific non-force double play, getting the Cubs and Keegan Thompson out of the inning without any damage. (.088)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Yesterday’s Winner: I believe that Seiya Suzuki won a tight vote 136-123 over Jordan Wicks. I have to assume something glitched as Ian Happ received a very large number of votes in a relatively mundane performance. As I said in the comments yesterday, I thought he was a very clear third horse in a two horse race. I strongly considered only putting two choices for that poll. If there are a lot of you who thought Happ was the PotG, weigh in today and I’ll consider flipping the result. Until then, I’m assuming that was unintentional. (Superhero is 95-45)
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 +43
- Ian Happ +21.5
- Justin Steele +19
- Adbert Alzolay +16
- Marcus Stroman +12
- Dansby Swanson -13.5
- Patrick Wisdom -15
- Drew Smyly -17
- Trey Mancini -20.5
- Jameson Taillon -26
Scoreboard watching: The only other game involving an NL contender was the Marlins trying, and miserably failing, to complete a sweep of the Dodgers. All of the contenders return to action for the weekend.
Brewers lead the Cubs by two in the Central. The Phillies lead the Cubs by two and hold the first Wild Card. The Diamondbacks are three behind the Cubs and hold the third Wild Card. The Marlins and Reds are each four games over .500 and half a game behind the DBacks, but the Marlins have two less games played than the Reds and thus have the advantage in the standings. The Giants are 2½ games back and need a strong weekend after a six game losing streak or they will fall completely out of contention and no longer followed here.
Up Next: Game two of a four-game set with the D-backs. They certainly know they can catch the Cubs for the second Wild Card with a sweep here. With seven games over two weekends, they’d need to win six of seven to overtake the Cubs. I’m going to bet no.
In a tough matchup, the struggling Jameson Taillon will start for the Cubs. The Cubs’ top offseason pitching acquisition has struggled mightily. One of the things he has done when healthy is consume a lot of innings. He’s sprinkled in a few very strong starts.
Hopefully he sprinkles one in here because the snakes start 28-year-old righty Zac Gallen. The 2016 third round pick of the Cardinals (106 overall), has been terrific for the Diamondbacks this year. He’s 14-7 with a 3.48 ERA. He’s had one of those seasons that you can cut and different numbers of starts and the results are very good. That said, he’s allowed five and six runs in his last two starts, both lasting one out into the sixth inning and he was the losing pitcher in each. Those starts came against the Orioles and Dodgers, so he just keeps drawing tough starting assignments. Just before that, he had a stretch of three wins in three starts, allowing two total runs over 18⅓ innings across the three. Two of those starts were against a disappointing Padres team, but the other was against a very good Rangers team.