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Clash of the Titans--Cubs 9 Reds 5

Clash of the Titans--Cubs 9 Reds 5
CLASH OF THE TITANS, 1981. ©MGM

The Titans were the older Greek gods. The ones that the more familiar Olympian gods replaced. This seems a fitting metaphor for tonight's pitching matchup. It was a battle of two pitchers that Theo Epstein acquired for the Red Sox. That tells you as much as you need to know about the long histories of each starter as any of the combined career totals could. Bronson Arroyo and John Lackey were never the best starters in baseball, but they were very good for a very long time. It is very likely that the best is behind John Lackey at this point and that is almost assuredly true for Bronson Arroyo. The two had to face challenging lineups on a night greatly favoring those potent bats.

Zach Cozart ambushed a first pitch fastball to give the Reds an early 1-0 lead. Joey Votto singled after the Cozart blast, but Lackey managed to retire the next two batters to head into the bottom half of the frame. Arroyo matched Lackey in retiring the leadoff hitter, but Kris Bryant drew a one out walk. Anthony Rizzo hit a single and Ian Happ walked to load the bases. Jeimer Candelario singled to tie the game, and Willson Contreras delivered a two out ground rule double into the ivy making it a 3-1 Cubs lead.

Lackey retired the first two batters in the second inning, but Tucker Barnhart homered to bring the Reds back within one. Arroyo and Billy Hamilton hit back to back singles to threaten a big inning, but Cozart hit an inning ending groundball out. Kyle Schwarber delivered a monster shot to break out of his long O fer. The Cubs could not manage any more runs despite a Bryant single. Lackey and Arroyo traded zeroes for their first and only clean frame of the evening in the third inning.

A wonky fourth inning netted the Reds their first non-homer run. Scott Schebler walked to lead off the inning, but was thrown out on a busted hit and run. Jose Peraza hit a should have been caught double into the shallow outfield. Peraza advanced to third on a Barnhart ground out. Lackey struck out Arroyo, but the swinging strike came on a wild pitch. Arroyo reached first and Peraza scored on the fifth out of the inning. The Reds would hold onto a 4-3 deficit until the bottom of the fifth. Ian Happ hit his second home run just into the seats in left center. The Cubs once again had a 2 run edge at 5-3.

Lackey managed to get the first out of the sixth inning, but Hector Rondon entered the game after Peraza's single. Rondon played the role of fireman successfully by retiring the next 2 batters. The Cubs 5-3 lead would remain in tact until the bottom half of the inning. Tommy La Stella pinch hit for Rondon and faced the first Reds reliever in Blake Wood. La Stella hooked a single up the middle through the infield, but remained planted on first after a Baez strikeout. Schwarber hit a ball as hard as you can down the left field line for a single as you can, but La Stella ended up on third with just one out. Kris Bryant ripped a double to give the Cubs a 6-3 lead. Bryan Price opted to intentionally walk Rizzo to load the bases, but Wood walked Happ on a full count pitch. Wood gave way to Robert Stephenson. Candelario wrapped into an inning ending double play, but the Cubs now had a commanding 7-3 lead.

Koji Uehara pitched the seventh inning. Billy Hamilton led off with a single, and Joey Votto made the game interesting with his one out 2 run drive to left center. Uehara recovered to retire the next two batters, but the Reds had cut the Cubs lead in half at 7-5. Addison Russell joined the party with a leadoff home run to start the eighth. Stephenson recovered to retire the side. Carl Edwards Jr. pitched a clean eighth inning. Rizzo crushed a Michael Lorenzen cement mixer slider with two outs, but could not add anymore with an Ian Happ strikeout.

Wade Davis
WPA CHART

Source: FanGraphs

Clash of the Not Quite Superannuated
Arroyo and Lackey struggled on the night. The conditions certainly did not help matters. Lackey in particular seemed to be victimized by the wind. Lackey gave up two home runs that might have stayed in the ballpark a month back. Lackey was also victimized by some bad play from the unusual outfield configuration. Lackey wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in Colorado, but he wasn't as bad as non-quality start indicates.

Bullpen Roles
Hector Rondon emerged into the old Justin Grimm role of second closer. It will be interesting to see if this is a permanent role. This is perhaps one of the surest signs that Carl Edward Jr. has passed Rondon in terms of Maddon's trust. Koji Uehara pitched in the seventh once again, and Edwards had the eighth. This seems to be the preferred method of getting to Wade Davis at the end of ballgames.

It's Happening
One of these years the Cubs won't have a top 50 prospect to call up in times of need. Thankfully we haven't reached that point as Ian Happ has burst onto the scene. Happ hit his first Wrigley Field home run, but the RBI on the bases loaded walk may have been more impressive. Happ saw two pitches in the strike zone. The first one was a middle fastball that Happ just missed, and Happ fouled a middle slider later in the count. The other four pitches that Happ saw missed the zone, and the plate discipline in the clutch spot is a welcome sight. Happ earned clean up hitter honors tonight with his early season performance. It certainly wasn't a lineup we expected to see in the middle of May, but it produced a football score outcome tonight.

Random Reference
The win is a milestone win. The Cubs climbed back to .500. Joe Maddon earned his one thousandth win as a MLB manager. So I think this calls for a celebration.

Three Stars of Game
Third Star-Joey Votto (2-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI)
Votto remains a great hitter. Votto's home run brought the Reds back into the game, but it wouldn't be enough.

Second Star-Ian Happ (1-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI)
Happ continues to make a strong first impression. The home run provided the big numbers, but the bases loaded walk was more impressive.

First Star-Kyle Schwarber (2-5, 1 HR, 2 R)
Schwarber breaking out would be a very big positive for a team struggling to find consistency. The home run was majestic, and it looks like Schwarber might be back finally.

Comments

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  • That was just what the doctor ordered. Essentially the entire lineup produced. I'm right there with you on the Happ walk. People like different things in players, but I have a soft spot for players who don't swing at balls outside the strike zone. I suspect when Heyward returns he'll play a lot in CF, and Happ in right. Although Joe will kept playing everyone. When Zobrist returns it will be interesting to see what happens. The wind will be blowing out tomorrow, and I hope Hendricks is on his game. Go Cubs!

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    You may be right on Happ playing RF but I really hate the idea of the best defender on the team playing out of position in CF where he just isn't very good. Seems to suck a value out of your highest priced player. That said Happ does look like he belongs I just don't really see a place for him to play.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Well, second base.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Or right field. Someone will get pushed to the bench, at least until the league figures Happ out. Zobrist can't play forever.

  • In reply to TC154:

    If Happ is going to stay, he needs to play. I'm not sure he's a major league second baseman, his bat certainly plays anywhere right now though. I don't like the idea of the best defenders playing out of position or sitting on the bench. For me, until I trust this team to score every night, the best defense needs to be on the field. We've seen what happens when Zobrist is in RF, I prefer Heyward there.

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    That walk was perfect by Happ--he swung at pitches in the zone, and didn't even move the bat with the other pitches. I was especially impressed because he didn't start swinging and then stop--he recognized the pitch (even the high was that was borderline) and kept the bat on his shoulder, and this was a high pressure situation with bases loaded and 40K+ fans screaming.
    His path to the ball in CF could use some improvement but that's repetition and learning Wrigley Field, and that's a minor point because I don't believe he'll play much in CF.
    Maybe it's corny, but before I said I was Happ-y and I certainly am.

  • It would seem that the new (?) hold rule fell into place for Uehara's work (?) in the seventh. His 1.0 2 2 2 0 1 1 line did not earn him a hold, even though he did not give up the lead. Bravo to mlb for that stat chg.

  • Might have been Titans on the mound but the Cubs lineup was seven players born in the 90's plus Rizzo (crusty veteran??) and Lackey. Happ impressed; Candy had two hits and a nice fielding play; Schwarber had two hits just when elements of the base seem to want him either benched, demoted, traded, or tarred and feathered. It will be interesting to see what the next move is when J-Hey comes off the DL. Even TLS had a nice AB in the 25th man showcase tonight.

  • In reply to charactercounts:

    Didn't find a way to sneak this into, but the Cubs lineup featured only position players that had played for a Cubs affiliate prior to thier Cubs debut. That doesn't happen very often in the modern MLB would be my guess. And today's game might feature all 9 having that distinction depending on health of some veterans.

  • Happ is a sight for sore eyes. The guy means business.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    John I would assume when hayward comes back candelario goes to iowa. Do you know how long Jay should be out? Barring another injury when Jay comes back Happ will unfortunately go down.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Jay pinch hit last night.

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    In reply to wastrel:

    He just looks like a baseball players, doesn't he? He looks calm, looks like he can do just about anything on the field. The roster move when Heyward and Zobrist are healthy will be interesting. I'm wondering if there's any way Happ can stick.

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    In reply to Glen Krisch:

    Candelario and TLS make the most sense to go down until--if?--Happ comes back to earth. Happ can cover infield so that "advantage" for TLS is gone as well as hitting LH (and RH). Candelario hasn't been awful, but he hasn't lit it up either. Might as well ride the hot horse for now. We can also tell Zobrist to "rest those legs for a 3rd straight WS run."

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    We're pretty much on the same page.

  • Doesn't this feel good? Hopefully the warm weather and long homestand will lead to more W's and put us on our rightful perch atop the NL Central.

    I haven't done many lyrics lately as I've been as uninspired as the Cubs. I usually try to blend the message of the song to current events, but no. I just want to rock. For all you headbangers:

    "If you're waiting for a long time
    For the rest to do their piece.
    You can tell her that you know me
    And you might even get it free."

  • Doesn't this feel good? Hopefully the warm weather and extended homestand leads to a series of W's to put us in our rightful spot atop the NL Central.

    I haven't done many lyrics lately, as I have been as uninspired as the Cubs. I usually try to tie the message into current events, but no. I want to rock. For all you headbangers:

    "If you're waiting for a long time
    For the rest to do their piece.
    You can tell her that you know me
    And you might even get it free."

  • Doesn't this feel good? Hopefully the warm weather and long homestand will yield some W's and put us in our rightful place atop the NL Central.

    I haven't done many lyrics lately, as I've been as uninspired as the Cubs. I usually try to tie the message into current events, but no. I want to rock. For all you headbangers:

    "If you're waiting for a long time
    For the rest to do their piece.
    You can tell her that you know me
    And you might even get it free."

  • Doesn't that feel good? Hopefully the warm weather and long homestand will lead to some W's and return us to our rightful place atop the NL Central.

    I haven't done many lyrics lately, as I have been as uninspired as the Cubs. I usually try to tie the message into current events, but no. I want to rock. For all you headbangers:

    "If you're waiting for a long time
    For the rest to get their piece.
    You can tell her that you know me
    And you might even get it free."

  • If Happ continues to hit with power think he might move down the lineup to leadoff and play regularly in CF, move Schwarber down and then mix and match during the game.

  • Jay pinch hit last night, otherwise he could have had a brief rest back dated to the 12th. Zobrist last played on the 13th so he could have a mini-break until the 23rd. Bryant is playing much better RF than Zobrist and even thought there is a glut of natural infielders, Theo may want to showcase Candy a little longer. TLS could go back down as both Happ and Candelario are switch hitters. Almora will also be squeezed for playing time once Heyward returns. The Iowa shuttle and the new 10-day DL creates a 30+ man roster with five or so "healthy scratches" on a weekly basis.

  • Japp needs to stay for a while. He looks about ready for prime time. who knows, maybe Happ can do for this lineup what Schwarber did for our lineup in 2015.

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    I only see one drawback of playing Happ so much and keeping him up here an extended period; when the cubs are looking for a starting pitcher, teams are going to demand Happ. If John was right in his hinting that perhaps the Cubs were trying to "Hide" Albertos last year at the deadline by shutting him down, perhaps we may need to do the same w Happ. If he stays up, perhaps that means the Cubs don't view him as untouchable or perhaps they are worried about the current group so much right now ( ice cold hitting) that they are willing to take the chance.

    This FO is so shrewd that you have to think in many layers w every move.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    If Happ can play second, it solves a lot of problems for the team.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    If Happ can play second reliably and Joe trusts him there, I expect to see him there this week, maybe more than once. Maybe even today. While I'm a huge Javy fan, his bat has been cold. I'd think if he can play second, he'll be there soon.

  • In reply to Mom2futurecubs:

    I'd like to see him there as well. I know you love Baez. But he starts arbitration in 2019, and the Cubs are going to need to give a boatload of money to Kris Bryant (and others). Baez also could get the starting pitcher they need. Anyway, that's kinda what I secretly hope for, although I do think it is possible to keep both Happ and Baez.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    My only issue with keeping Happ over Baez long term, assuming one of them moves for pitching, is that it changes the nature of the team. If Baez goes now you have to carry another SS, likely a glove first guy, on the roster and that would probably be at the expense of a hitter first type like LaStella.That doesn't seem like a big deal but the fact that Baez is arguably a better defender at SS than Russell provides advantage that almost no other team has. In other words you SS gets a day off or is injured and you actually improve at the position? That and the fact that Baez can probably play 7 of the 8 positions on the field is a hard thing to give up.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Baez is not a better defender at shortstop than Russell. Maybe Brandon Crawford is a better defender, but that's it in the NL.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Even if he's not he's at least nearly equal and how many teams have a luxury like that at one of the most important positions on the field?

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    In reply to TC154:

    actually a young Zobrist played some SS for Maddon in Tampa. This current version of young zobrist prob can't even play SS except in a real serious emergency.

  • In reply to TC154:

    It is a luxury to have two players who can play SS so well. It if something almost no team has, and not something you'd blithely give away.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Yeah, the only thing Baez does better than Russell at SS is turn the DP. Russell is just so consistent and reliable at the position that he will be difficult to move off the position as long as he maintains his range.

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    In reply to TC154:

    Yup, that is the million dollar question that I (and prob most people) do not have the answer to. I can't wait to find out what the experts deem is the right answer. Considering the FO's record in such big decisions, I expect them to make the right one.

    Whose going to go? Whose going to bring back the most? Whose departure will affect the 25 man roster construction the least? Will Maddon insist on 8 man bullpens multiple times during the season?

  • In reply to TC154:

    That is my main argument for keeping Baez. The Cubs have no one else that can play SS. Moving Baez does not open a roster spot for Happ or Candelario. You move Baez and forces you to carry one of Young or Weeks on the MLB roster.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    That's so overplayed. It's a short trip from Iowa.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    How many teams do not carry a backup SS on their 25 man roster?

    I'll give you a hint:

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Most.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Who backups up Crawford?

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I think Tomlinson backs up Crawford. Regardless you have to have a second guy on the team to play the position and if Baez was gone they would have to get a guy on the roster who could and they would likely not be as good a player as Baez. Happ is like a young Zobrist, corner OF and 2B, if we could get rid of Zobrist I think Happ would be a fine replacement but that isn't possible.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    That's right, Tomlinson. Who was in AAA until Crawford got hurt.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Crawford actually has 2 backups: Arroyo and Nunez can both play SS.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Have you seen Nunez play shortstop? Maybe that proves your point that it's nice to have a backup. Because he's awful.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I haven't seen him personally there in a couple of years, but he does fill in there, as does Arroyo.

    And yes, that is part of my point. Most teams have either a terrible defender that can hit to fill in there or the opposite. Baez provides a roster advantage most teams don't possess.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I guess everyone has their biases. I am biased towards people who don't swing at balls. So if you had to trade Happ or Baez, I'd rather trade Baez. Other people may have different priorities. Ideally, I'd like to keep both. And I know a lot of people would be upset if Baez were traded, but I'd be upset if Happ were traded. And I don't think I'm alone when thinking the Cubs need a starting pitcher this season. Peace.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I think Arroyo just got called up too because somebody got hurt. I can't remember, but regardless you have to at least 1 guy who can play SS.

    If Baez is not on the team, and Russell gets hurt in a game. I don't think we can send Zobrist out there anymore, so I think Joe would elect to put Bryant there. Maybe LaStella?

    Granted it would be a real bad situation so Baez has to stay esp since Gleyber is not longer around. Whose the 3rd SS on the 40 man anyway?

  • I'm going to make a not so shocking prediction and say unless the health of the roster continues to take a nosedive, one of the guys who started last night will be traded by the deadline.

  • I'd trade schwarber before baez.Schwarber is all hype his hr's mask the fact he's not really that great of a hitter and offers zero value defensively.Happ cannot play 2nd base like baez and again the cubs would have no ss on the roster besides russell if baez is traded.Very short sighted to suggest trading baez.

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    I've been thinking about this during the early scuffling of 2017.

    Do the Cubs emphasize players developing a b-hack, a la Rizzo? I don't have the numbers to back up my gut feeling, but it wouldn't surprise me that a 2 strike b-hack results in a .100 higher batting ave. than a swing-for-the-fences approach. Baez looks like an all-star during the stretches he embraces the b-hack. I see how Schwarber, Contreras, and Russell all keep the same approach with 2 strikes. The team has supposedly been "unlucky" to not extend innings. Well, sometimes you create your own luck by refining your approach.

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    In reply to Glen Krisch:

    Thats the difference between a superstar and a regular mlb player, the ability to transition your approach based on count, game situation, pitchers style, defensive alignment, ect. If all our players adapted their approach like Rizzo and Bryant ( Bryant is actually going to RF w regularity this year rather then what seemed on accident his first 2 yrs) w 2 strikes, our offensive would be as relentless as it was last year.

  • DIdn't one of the commenters predict 4 HR's by the Cubs yesterday? Props to whoever that was!

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    This is just like last year. Taking pitches and walks and then getting key hits. Last year we did complain about hitting with RISP but we had so many chances to to it we were going to not do it at times. This year that hasn't been the case, so it's good to see the warm weather and hot bats.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    With the wind blowing out to left, I'm a little surprised by Montero and Jay starting instead of Contreras and Baez (move Zobrist to left and Baez to the infield, Contreras is obvious).......any thoughts?

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    In reply to Treebeard:

    Looks like the right call so far. Problem likes the matchup tomorrow w Willson and Almora vs the lefty ( Amir Garrett for reds). Plus why have Willson start a night game w a day game tomorrow.

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    Jay was a brilliant pickup. Maybe we didn't think so at the time, but he is simply a professional ball player. Good eye, OBP, fielder, etc. Every team needs players like this and I'm glad we have him.
    I think it was the right call. Usually Kyle doesn't walk that many and Miggy has been hot recently. Zo hasn't played in a while so get him in there. As Jim said, so far so good.

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    I don't know about you guys, but I was seriously impressed w this Wandy Peralta in the 7th inning going right thru out best hitters.

    Well as I type this, Trevor Rosenthal has just blown a 4-2 lead to the Redsox. Hopefully the dirty birds can lose again.

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    Thank you CJ Edwards. Nice work holding it down for Hendricks.

    This game is a W now. The league can't score 1 run off WD-40, so how are these Reds even w the wind blowing out score 2+? No chance.

    Lets go Redsox and pick up another game !

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