Happy Flight--Cubs 8 Brewers 4

The Cubs took an early lead for what felt like the first time in 2018. Their starter pitched into the seventh inning. The Cubs extended their lead and managed to hang onto it. And yet it still was a game that felt in jeopardy more than a few times late.

Kyle Hendricks had it today. He had it far more than the 6 innings and 4 earned runs statline says. The results of the game certainly matter when it is one versus two matching up. The Cubs victory meant that they headed to Pittsburgh with the same margin of division lead, but the 1b top result was Kyle Hendricks looking like the Professor we know and love.

Kyle Hendricks struck out five of the first eight hitters he faced. Hendricks pitched through three just allowing a pair of singles as he kept the Brewers off the board. The Cubs offense clicked early in the first inning with some two out magic. It started of course with David Bote delivering a two out single. Anthony Rizzo than clobbered a two run bomb out of the cleanup spot. Junior Guerra pitched a clean second inning before remembering that he was Junior Guerra.

Báez was the Cubs new power leadoff hitter today, and he delivered with a one out triple in the third inning. Jason Heyward doubled to extend the Cubs lead to 3-2. Bote proved he was human with a fielder's choice for the second out of the inning. Rizzo hit into what should have been an inning ending ground out but an Eric Thames error kept the inning alive. Albert Almora Jr. provided one of the seven signs of the apocalypse by drawing a bases loading walk. With Kyle Schwarber at the plate, Guerra uncorked a wild pitch to make it a 4-0 Cubs lead.

Hendricks had one tough inning in the form of the fourth inning. After recording his sixth strikeout, Ryan Braun grounded out to make it seem like another low stress frame for the Professor. But Travis Shaw and Jonathan Schoop hit back to back doubles to put the Brewers on the board. Eric Thames pulled a single into right to halve the Cubs lead.

Guerra wouldn't manage to complete the fourth inning. Willson Contreras lead off the inning with a single and moved to second on Hendo's sacrifice bunt. Addison Russell was actually useful and singled to put the Cubs up 5-2. Russell moved into scoring position on another wild pitch. Jason Heyward singled with two outs to score Russell. David Bote single ended Guerra's afternoon. Dan Jennings took over and gave up a run scoring single to Anthony Rizzo. The Cubs now had what felt like a commanding 7-2 lead. Jennings walked Almora Jr., but retired Schwarber to end the inning.

Hendricks made it feel that way as he went into the seventh inning sitting in the mid 80s for pitches with a five run lead. The Brewers started the inning with a single and walk to chase Hendricks from the game. Carl Edwards Jr. was called on to be the Cubs mid-inning closer. Christian Yelich lined out hard for the first out. But he walked Lorenzo Cain to load the bases and a groundball single past Báez drove in the third Brewers run. A single into left field drove in the Brewers fourth run. Justin Wilson was the next Cubs pitcher and the latest Cub to be screwed on strike zone calls. Wilson had the first two strikes called balls before getting the bases loaded one out pop up. Steve Cishek entered the game and delivered an inning and third of clean ball to leave them loaded.

Albert Almora Jr. made it the final scoreline by answering with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the seventh. Pedro Strop was called on in the ninth inning to finish the game in a non-save spot. Strop was the finisher once again as he collected three outs. Christian Yelich hit a ball hard, but Ian Happ was able to snag the ball up against the wall. Lorenzo Cain was hit by a pitch in the next plate appearance. Mike Moustakas hit the ball hard into right, but Heyward snagged the ball with his usual relative ease. Hernán Pérez struck out swinging to end the game.

WPA CHART

Source: FanGraphs

Random Reference
With the win, the Cubs have regained a three game lead in the NL Central. The lead is three. No more. No less.

Comments

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  • Great win for the Cubs. Team effort all the way around. The Brewers are our only real challenger for the division, they are good. They have two achilles heels now, with defense added to starting pitching (which has been really good but sorry will not last). But they will not go away.

    Unlike the Cardinals, who are much like our friend Greg Simmons. They will quickly fade out of the picture when challenged.

    Yes, the managerial change was a good move (duh!). But not good enough for a team that is just not very good. At all.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    Haven’t they won 8 games in a row? Cards are not going anywhere. Good young arms and Matt Carpenter on fire is keeping them around.

  • A 6-year-old girl in Utah did some extra chores around the house, so her mother decided to reward her by ordering a Barbi doll online from Amazon. Under the ruse of "checking the shipping status" of her new prize, the crafty young lady (while unsupervised) ordered an additional $350 worth of toys and games to complete her "Barbi collection". Her young cousin posted photos of her standing next to the tower of boxes, taller than her, as they were being unloaded from the delivery truck. She stood with a mischievous, cat-ate-the-canary grin from ear to ear. As a compassionate punishment, she was escorted to a nearby Salt Lake City children's hospital to personally donate her ill-gotten booty to the young patients there.

    At least I ask first...

    Thank you, may I have another?

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    Yes You May!!

  • There is a lot of season left, but every game whittles away other team's chances of catching the Cubs. I'll take a split with the Brewers. Still 3 games up with 2 fewer to play. Great job by Kyle. Nice to see Albert make some solid contact, maybe he's coming out of his funk? Schwarbs, are you watching? Schwarbs? C'mon Nats, show a little fire and take one from the Dirtybirds tonight!

  • Not getting any help from the Nats

  • In reply to stv711:

    You can cross the Nats off as a team we may have to face in the postseason.

  • I didn’t see the point using stropp in a 4 run game.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    They were off Monday & he wasn’t used Tuesday. But Edwards didn’t do his job & they had to burn thru him & Wilson, before calling on Cishek in the same inning. 7th I believe I believe it was. That didn’t help.

  • Great catch by Happ in the 9th and outstanding barehand play by bote

    Whenever Bryant returns Schwarber & Russell needs to sit more imo. Bote and Baez should alternate at 3b depending on matchups both are better defensively and are better offensively. Schwarber on base % is .301 for the last month

  • In reply to bolla:

    Bryant will need ABs to prepare for the playoffs, but I'm sure Joe will be trying to get Schwarber and Russell in the groove, too. When Russell is hot, he contributes a lot.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Russell is a lost cause, IMO. He is back to his level of play over the last 3 years. He has an 84 wRC+ and sub .700 OPS. The last 150 at bats have been anemic. He has hit 5 HR all year--5!!!!!! The calendar is not May 16th it is August 16th. The last 45 days his OBP is HIGHER than his SLG. That is awful unless you are posting .450 OBP which he is not sitting near a .300 OBP. He should sit with Javy taking over at SS. Joe can then mix and match 3B/2B/LF/CF with Bote, Bryant, Zo, Happ, Schwarbs, and Almora. When Javy needs a day off, then give Addy some at bats. He hits in a crucial spot in our lineup and seemingly is always up with guys on in front of him and he cannot produce.

    I admit I have never been the biggest believer in Russell. I just have not seen it with the guy. But have always stated the Cubs are unstoppable when he gets going. It's just that he doesn't get it going enough and when you look at this stats at the end of the year, he just is not a good hitter. He is costing the Cubs runs at the plate and with KB down, it is time for the rest of the group to step up. I would sit him right now.

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    Do you really want "Schwarbs" in CF? J/K.

    While I am more of a believer in Russell than you are your points are all good and valid.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Me too. I'm a little disappointed in both Russell ans Schwarber of late, but not giving up on either, yet. Both are young and neither have reached the ceiling.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Schwarbs in CF would be something, huh? LOL!!!

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I wouldn't call him a lost cause but I mostly agree with you I've said in the past that some of my concerns about his makeup and his approach to his job have made me skeptical that he'll ever reach the ceiling that many evaluators thought he had coming up through the minors. I would think that he's capable and will have better offensive seasons then he's had in the 2017-18 seasons I'd hope at least but I don't think I'd look at him as a high upside young player anymore let's keep in mind he's also had plenty of major league experience and AB's compared to Schwarber, Happ, and Almora as well so it's getting harder for myself and others to play the "he's young card". The good thing with Russell though is he still brings value because of his defense so I think he still has value to the team unless another team likes him enough to give us a nice piece in return. But let's just put it this way there was a time not too long ago where I looked at Contreras, Rizzo, Bryant, Baez and Russell as our set in stone infield of the future. I no longer can say that I see Russell as a surefire part of our long term plans unless we see a breakthrough at the plate soon. At this point like you said too Bote is playing so well on both ends that it's getting tougher to justify not keeping him in the lineup most games until the league adjusts to him.

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    In reply to kkhiavi:

    He is still young. He is no longer "inexperienced" but he is still young, IMO.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    That's very true he did come up from the minors at a young age. I personally question his maturity based off some information that I have on him personally but I have wondered for a while if he's simply one of those kids that maybe a late bloomer and just needs time to mature as an individual. He has the talent in my eyes but I just wonder about his complacency and desire to be great it's no surprise to me that he's taken steps backwards and not forwards with his development as a player with some of his off the field habits let's just say

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    You are overrating Bote

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    I'm not in the camp saying hand Bote the job at all for next season regardless of what he accomplishes this season for the record. I'd like to see him get more AB's perhaps at Russell's expense at times while he's hot at least for now but I'm not making any generalizations that he's some core player yet. That said I'm starting to wonder if you and I are underrating Bote and not overrating him he's been great when he's played this year and his numbers and metrics have indicated outstanding play but over a small sample size I admit. The reason I'm skeptical personally is I just wonder why he wasn't as great in the minors that's why I wouldn't trade Russell to create a starting spot for him even if he's outstanding the rest of the season. I've seen too many rookies come out of nowhere to have a good rookie year only to get figured out their sophomore years to take too much out from Bote's rookie season that I agree with. I do still question whether Russell is a core piece though his career is going backwards not forwards.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Is he capable of better seasons? He has had nearly identical stats for 4 seasons now. And his power his vanished.

    He is a solid defensive SS and that always has value. My issue is with his bat or lack of a bat. I have argued he never got the AA or AAA experience he needed. He had 1 good year in A ball while hitting on planet Krypton in the Cal League. After that he had 250 at bats in AA and 50 in AAA. And at no point was he a dominant hitter. I believe he lost some seriously valuable development time. So, IMO, he is what he is and that has been about an 85-90 wRC+ hitter. I wanted a heck of a lot more from the "next Barry Larkin" and Top 5 prospect in baseball along with Correa and Lindor. We got Larry Bowa.

    If he's back I seriously hope he overhauls his swing and gets near the potential he has said to possess. Cubs are a lot better if he can be productive in our lineup with the number of guys we have on base. For remainder of this year, I would go with the hot hand and get Baez over to SS and get Bote in there until he comes back to earth as well as work in Zo and Happ. With the SP the way it is, we need to have maximum offense in the lineup every day.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I know some of the underlying numbers are similar year to year but to me subjectively I thought he was much better in 2016 than 2017-18. I know his wRC was only 94 that season but he also had a much higher 3.3 WAR versus 1.4 and 1.7 this year with 21 home runs and 95 RBIs so in other words power and run production that he hasn't even come close to matching lately. So in my eyes he's shown that he's at least capable of being a power threat with run producing potential but he just hasn't done that lately. I know RBI's aren't everyone's favorite stat but I personally don't consider it to be a valueless stat like some in the metrics community I think hitting RBI's is a skill. If Addy can hit .250-260+ with his 2016 run production then I'd be very happy. I'm just skeptical like you that he'll ever put it all together due to some of the issues that I discussed earlier. I do agree with you though that Addy has now had a prolonged sample size where he hasn't provided much offense and he's seemingly regressing. Maybe they do need to mix in Bote more while he's hot and Addy is a struggling singles hitter for now but I still think that I'd start Addy over Bote in a playoff game because I'd want my best defense in there. I do agree with you that I've expected more from Addy in his young career and these past couple of years have been disappointing. No question it's hard to look at him as the type of core piece that we envisioned him as due to his regression and questionable makeup just as importantly.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I agree with your assessment, my point being that Joe will try to get the guys jump-started rather than just sit them the rest of the year.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Bryant can also play outfield with Bote at 3B and Javy at SS. Happ, Almora, Russell, and Schwarber have all scuffled over the past 30 days. Happ is the only one of the four with an OBP >.300 or an OPS >.600, and that is only due to his walk rate because he's batting .190 in that stretch. Until the league finds Bote's weakness he needs to play, especially given the starting pitching problems. Bryant may well not return until 9/1 and there are also three DH games at Guaranteed Seat in September, so the AB's will sort themselves out.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Won't Bryant play 3b? How do you have Bote & Baez alternating?
    I see Bryant playing everyday at 3b and Baez at 2b. Bote will be a bench player.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    The growing (nearly unanimous) consensus is that Bryant will return this year but will not be 100%. His shoulder injury is something that will need to be "managed". Because max-effort swings in game action is what is causing the irritation I don't see him playing every day. I think his playing time in September will largely be an ongoing experiment to determine how he can be most effectively used in the postseason. I haven't seen a detailed explanation of the actual damage to his shoulder, but I know it was initially caused by a head-first slide. I'm assuming it involves the labrum, perhaps partially torn, and it wouldn't surprise me if it requires a (hopefully minor) surgical correction in the offseason.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I maintain that having Bryant even at 75-80% greatly improves the lineup top to bottom.

    I am huge Bote fan (who isn't?) and would take him over LaStella and Happ (I don't care which side they hit from) but he is no Kris Bryant. Pitching to a former MVP (and ROY) changes gameplans.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    I certainly want him back and agree that even at less than his best he lengthens the lineup. I'm just bracing myself for the fact that he probably isn't coming back at MVP-level Kris Bryant this season. While I agree that his presence can change the opposition's game plan, reputation can only carry you so far. I wouldn't doubt there will be holes in his swing that are quickly exploited.

    Luckily rosters will expand and playing time will work itself out. Building a divisional lead would go a long way towards allowing everyone to be situated to maximize their value in October.

  • Great job bu Justin Wilson who was jobbed by Vanover on two stikes that were called balls and was able to induce a popup.

  • The cardinals are surging, they are 1 game back of Milwaukee and 4 behind the cubs

    They were 9 back and in 4th place a few weeks ago, I know they’ve steamrolled weaker opposition but the cubs struggled with those same teams( 3 losses to marlins and to royals).Hope the cubs sweep the pirates or win 3 out of 4,really would like to see a hot streak like 7 out of 8.

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    In reply to bolla:

    Yes, they are doing very well. But they are also on an extreme hot streak. They will likely cool off as they are not that talented of a club.

  • In reply to bolla:

    If Milwaukee has any fire in their bellies at all it would not surprise me to see them sweep St. Louis over the weekend. They're simply a more talented club.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to TC154:

    Especially if Carpenter is injured. I think I saw that he was hit in the hand and x-rays were "negative" but even bruising can make batting difficult.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    That should cool off Carpenter

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    I saw on mlb.com that he "proved" he was healthy enough to play by "opening a salsa jar." For his sake I hope that the medical staff signed off on it too or this could get ugly.

  • Rooting for the Brewers or Cardinals this weekend?

    Easy for me .... Brewers. Can't root for the Cardinals!

    Onward

  • In reply to stv711:

    I am rooting for the Cubs to sweep the pirates. I don't care who wins between the Brewers and Cards but I do think the Brewers are more talented.

  • In reply to John57:

    Ideally Cards take 2 out of 3

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Exactly right

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