What Was That?--Diamondbacks 6 Cubs 2

Albert Almora has crushed left handed pitching and has a popular player for increased playing time among fans. He flew out to start the game. Kris Bryant continued to be un-get-out-able for Diamondbacks pitchers with a single flicked into left field. He should have been erased on an Anthony Rizzo groundball to the second baseman, but Ketel Marte dropped the ball preventing Arizona from getting a single out on the play. Ben Zobrist hit another potential double play ball, but Patrick Corbin was late getting over to cover first. It didn't matter as Ian Happ hit the third straight groundball right at a Diamondback infielder to end the inning.

David Peralta hit a solid single to lead off the D'Backs half of the inning, and a groundball from pesky Adam Rosales gave Arizona an early scoring chance. But Jon managed to match John by inducing a key double play. This time it was A.J. Pollock hit a bouncer that brought Bryant right to the bag at third, and a crisp throw across the diamond meant that Paul Goldschmidt was all that stood in the way of a first inning zero. The Diamondbacks tried the bold strategy of replacing Paul Goldschmidt with Folgers Crystals. I don't know how else to explain Lester striking out the superstar first baseman in an RBI spot. Either way the game remained scoreless through one.

Corbin struck out the side in the second inning getting through Kyle Schwarber, Javier Baez and Alex Avila. Lester matched Corbin's strikeout totals by the end of the second inning. The Brandon Drury strikeout came after a J.D. Martinez flyout and Marte single. The fact that Jeff Mathis was still playing baseball was something I just became aware of as he struck out to end the inning.

Big Slugging Lester led off the the Cubs half of the third inning. Corbin struck out the the big power threat for his fourth straight K. Almora broke up the streak, but hit the ball right to Marte. The Diamondbacks probably should just start putting Kris Bryant who hit a hustle double to keep the inning alive. Rizzo put a charge into a line drive into center field. Pollock was able to corral a ball that seemed to keep carrying on him. No word yet on rumors that the CIA funds A.J. Pollock's defense to prove American cultural superiority to the Soviet Union. Lester matched Corbing for another frame by striking out Corbin to start the inning. A Peralta groundout and Rosales strikeout kept the game level through three.

Corbin pitched a clean fourth inning with two strikeouts. Lester ran into a little trouble in the bottom half. Pollock flew out, but Goldschmidt made both teams happy by drawing a walk. Martinez hit a solid single into left to give the Diamondbacks their second real scoring chance of the game. Lester induced a double play ball that Baez and Happ weren't able to make happen, but a Drury pop up ended the inning with the game still tied.

Baez had the Cubs first non-Kris Bryant Cubs hit of the game as he tucked a single past Goldschmidt into right at the start of the fifth. Avila ripped a single into right to give Lester an opportunity to bunt with no outs. A successful sacrifice bunt occurred after a few misfires from Corbin and one by Lester. Almora worked a full count including an impresive take on a slightly inside 2-2 pitch. Almora hit a the ninth pitch right into the drawn in Marte who fired to home. Baez running on the contact play attempted to swing move past the tag of Mathis. Baez was ruled out by the home plate umpire but Baez thought he was safe. Maddon trusted him, but the call was quickly confirmed somehow. Bryant was pitched to more carefully than well I can't come up with a clever saying, but he didn't see a strike to load the bases. Rizzo drove Martinez to the fence, but not enough to break the scoreless deadlock.

Lester and Corbin traded perfect frames between the fifth and sixth. The pitcher's duel was broken by a lead off single from Adam Rosales. He yanked a deep drive just foul before bringing the count full. He hit a hard groundball that Baez was just able to slow down for the base hit. Pollock hit a high bouncer that Baez managed to handle past second base. He unloaded a strike to Rizzo for the first out of the inning. Goldschmidt finally received the Bonds treatment with an intentional free pass. Unfortunately J.D. Martinez is not 2016 Ryan Zimmerman. Martinez ripped a ball that bounced off the wall. Zobrist playing in right tonight probably didn't help a ton, but it resulted in a run scoring double. Marte hit a groundball to Baez who was drawn in. Goldschmidt was running on contact and was dead in the water. Baez airmailed the throw over Avila allowing Goldschmidt to score. The Diamondbacks would make it hurt as Drury hit a deep drive into center for a bases clearing double. The lead would stay at 4-0 as Lester struck out Mathis and Corbin to end the sixth.

Baez gave the Cubs hope with a leadoff single to start the seventh inning. Avila and pinch hitter La Stella hit shallow fly outs. Archie Bradley came into the game which prompted Maddon to insert my personal fav Jon Jay into the game. Jay reached on an error, but Kris Bryant needed to keep a narrative going with two runners on. Bryant hit a easy flyball out in this clutch spot for the first out in the series. Hector Rondon emerged in the seventh inning from a back injury or the mystery spot. Peralta doubled to start the inning and reached third on a wild pitch. Pollock singled after a Descalso strikeout. That made it a 5-0 Diamondbacks ballgame, but Rondon managed to work around loading the bases with just one out.

Archie Bradley walked Ian Happ with two outs, but was otherwise flawless in the eighth inning. Justin Grimm got two quick outs, but Peralta launched a ball to the left center corner. Jon Jay had no chance on it, but given the funky angles of the ballpark it wasn't surprising to watch Peralta scamper around all of the bases. Descalso double to left, but was left on second with a Pollock fly out.

Fernando Rodney entered the game prepared to fire an arrow. He had the bow drawn with two quick groundball outs to start the ninth. Victor Caratini hit a two strike single, and then Jay did the same on two strikes. Kris Bryant delivered a too little, too late with a two run single also on two strikes. Rizzo kept things going with another two out, two strike single. That put the arrow back in the quiver for Rodney. David Hernandez was called on to get the final out. Ben Zobrist worked another two strike count, but the umpire apparently needed to get home as he called an offspeed pitch that started low and kept going low for the final strike of the game. Zobrist couldn't believe. Joe Maddon couldn't believe. I am not sure anyone in the stadium believed it, but the Cubs sole possession of first place was done.

WPA CHART

Source: FanGraphs

Mix of Emotions
Jon Lester pitched a very strong five innings. He pitched a poor sixth inning aided by a defensive miscue. The Diamondbacks then piled on a bunch of runs in the late innings. The Cubs then rallied after 26 outs only to have it cut well short by a horrible call by the umpire. On the one hand the Cubs did not deserve to win tonight. On the other hand the umpire prevented baseball from happening. I am confused.

Bryant's on Fire
The power is still not there, but Bryant has settled into being an elite traditional two hitter. He runs the bases extremely well. He is still getting on at a high rate. I am not sure if that power is going to come back this season. The picture painted in a recent interview about the hand injury was not rosy. But this Bryant might be enough to keep the Cubs afloat.

Rest of the Slack
The Cubs need to get production from other spots with a Kris Bryant playing through an injury. Willson Contreras is not able to play for another month at least. And today against a left handed pitcher that has thrived at his home ballpark the offense was largely stagnant. Kyle Schwarber looked horrible against a left handed starter. Ian Happ looked silly chasing high fastballs again. It wasn't a good night for the Cubs offense by and large.

Random Reference
That Zobrist final strike.
what-the-hell-was-that

Comments

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  • This team isn't playing well and we gave up the whole farm and just have Quintana to show for it! A lot of bad decisions from Theo lately! He is the best there ever is at acquiring young talent but is pretty bad at trading the young talent.

  • In reply to Sammy21:

    Eloy hit 2 home runs tonight, looks like he's as close as there is to a sure thing; did we owe, like actually contractually owe, the White Sox for the Sammy Sosa trade, and Theo decided now was the time to pay that debt?
    Quintana needs to turn into Pedro Martinez or something (and God-willing he does), to make this trade equal over the long haul.......

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    In reply to Treebeard:

    Hopefully Eloy just turns into a .250 hitter w 35+ homer power who K's a ton.

    If he turns into anything better, this is going to sting.

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    I had a long post that was eaten. But sure thing? Eloy is only in A ball. His A stats aren't even as good as Soler's otherworldly .340/.440/.700 slash in AA. Or how about Schwarber? Or Baez's 35 homeruns in AA? Eloy is 6'4: I suspect there is a huge hole in that swing. He'll probably be good. I wouldn't bank on him being the next Bryce Harper.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I did preface my statement with a disclaimer: "looks like he's as close as there is to".
    I know there's really no sure thing, and that players have ups and downs; we'll probably have to wait 5 - 10 years to know for sure who won the trade, I just really liked Eloy.......

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    like Schwarber?

  • In reply to Sammy21:

    I agree on the Q deal but Theo made a big time deal to get chapman and that paid off. You can argue we over paid but without chapman we would not win the WS. So to say Theo is bad at trading young talent is false.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    How many saves did Chapman blow in the postseason? He helped us win 1 game. Can't say we don't win without him.

  • In reply to Stubbs:

    I'll clarify this. He had 4 saves, and blew 3. I give him credit for game 5 of the WS due to the circumstances, but he was not worth Torres. Obviously can never be proven, but some combination of Montgomery or Edwards could've done similar work I imagine.

  • In reply to Stubbs:

    I totally agree with you. He blew THREE saves in the post season alone. You can definitely say they won with him, but you cannot say they would not have won without him.

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    In reply to Stubbs:

    They might not have won w/o him, but we probably still would have won if Theo got us another reliever like Meloncon who was also available at that deadline.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    *probably?!?

    Cubs probably should have cruised to another NL central championship at the beginning of the year also

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    In reply to CubfanInUT:

    That too. Chapman was hardly flawless but who can really tell what would have happened another way. We just should be happy that way worked and we have a title.

    Are there multiple ways to make Eggs, yes,

  • In reply to Stubbs:

    We will disagree on that. No way Cubs win WS without chapman. The guy threw 13 games in post season. That is a ton.

  • I think Theo did his job filling in the holes to make a run for the post season. The price was high because it always is. It's the nature of the beast. There are lots of games to be played yet. Some ugly at bats and an untimely error. Probably looks worse than it is.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    Eloy is hitting a ton but let's not forget that he's still in the minors and a lot can happen. I certainly don't wish him ill, but Torres is on the DL for the year, Mark Appel, the pick before KB, is still in the minors with a WHIP of 1.7. A prospect is still a prospect. Am I disappointed in Q and Wilson, yes., but time will tell.
    I can't believe we're still talking about trading for Chapman either. We Won The WS!! It was worth it.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Agree to disagree on Chapman.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Exactly. Maybe Eloy is going to be amazing. But he's only in A ball. I'd be curious how his A ball numbers compare to Soler and Baez and Schwarber, all of whom have had their troubles in the Major Leagues. Baez hit 35 home runs in AA. Eloy is 6'4: I'm guessing there is a hole in that swing. Give me a proven Major Leagur starter seven days and week and twice on Sunday.

  • On another topic, I found Zo and Joe's comments on the missed call at the end of the game refreshing. They were fair to the umpire(s) and presented a reasonable big picture view of electronic strike calling justification.

  • I have read a lot about Theo's recent dismantling of the farm system and while I agree that many of the trades were invaluable to the current and near term future, it really seems to me that Theo has set the Cubs up to continue to win in the next 5 years but will leave the cupboard completely barren when he leaves after his contract is up and then the Cubs will be back to having to start from scratch. At least that is one of my concerns.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    I understand your concerns, and I appreciate that you express them in an articulate manner. Many people don't, and just yell and scream that Theo is a bum, especially in the hyberbolic talk-radio crowd.

    I don't think he will leave the cupboards bare. I think he would prefer to leave a strong organization and lasting legacy. He still gets a lot of credit from sound baseball minds for what he left in Boston.

    Trading these impactful prospects is painful, but the ultimate goal of a MLB organization is to win at the big-league level. We have so many young players under control for so many years there isn't room for everyone. We've been spoiled the last few years by graduating stud after stud onto the Cubs roster. They are here now, so we no longer need to do that every year.

    The high first-round picks probably won't be happening for the next several years, but there are other ways to acquire talent. We have been in the penalty box of the IFA market the last couple years, but will be able to sign the top guys again next June. I also expect us to trade a core player or two as they get deeper into their arbitration years and approach free-agency. That can restock the system in a hurry.

    I think we will be fine. We are just down on top prospects right now, but we don't need them right now to come up and fill holes.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    it is pretty easy to monday morning quarterback. If Theo doesnt trade em and another championship, and or the prospects dont turn out there will be the same amount of mmqb's yelling the opposite view. hindsight is always 20/20 isnt it. Theo traded away alot of talent like Hanley Ramirez and alot of others to try and keep Boston in thick of title contention. he also replaced them with guys like Bogaerts, Betts and Bradley. what a bum

  • Zobrist's comments might be more meaningful if he wasn't the biggest whiner at the plate I've seen (or just simply remember) in 40 years of watching the Cubs. If I were an umpire, he'd get nothing even remotely close.

  • In reply to Peredonov:

    ?

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