Winning in the Rain--Cubs 2 Pirates 0

Before getting to the recap, a moment to acknowledge the sad news of former Cub, and a number of other clubs, pitcher Scott Sanderson. The right handed pitcher was a part of the Cubs first two division winners in 1984 and 1989 during his 19 year career, and had long made the Chicagoland area his home. Sanderson was a bit before my time in terms of his Cubs career, though I do vividly recall the 1988 Topps card I had of his. Thoughts and condolences to his family suffering a tremendous loss.

The Cubs game began a half hour earlier than scheduled, and the game moved briskly with both José Quintana and Joe Musgrove trading zeroes for most of the evening. It still wasn't enough as the game was delayed after seven innings. The Cubs managed to grab a lead right before the delay and the bullpen continued its scoreless streak (on the technicality of Kyle Ryan allowed Yu Darvish's final two runners to score last night). And Q looked the pitcher Theo Epstein traded for tonight. It wasn't the first time, but it certainly hasn't been frequent enough.

The game produced a number of firsts for the Cubs in 2019. Quintana became the first Cubs pitcher to record an out in the seventh in 2019 and the first to complete at least seven innings. The Cubs won their first series. Pedro Strop recorded the first Cubs save of 2019. Hopefully it won't take nearly as long for the second of each of those events to occur again.

WPA CHART

Source: FanGraphs

José Quintana pitched a brilliant inning to start the game punching out all three batters he faced. He continued to roll through a second scoreless frame despite walking Josh Bell, but Bell remained firmly planted at first base as Q retired the next three batters. Quintana was rolling as he struck out his counterpart, but the ball bounced past Victor Caratini allowing Joe Musgrove to reach first. Adam Frazier dumped a single into centerfield to quickly turn two outs no on into runners on the corner with one out. Q climbed the ladder to punch out Starling Marte for the key second out of the inning. And in what seems like a rarity since Quintana has moved to the Northside of town, Pablo Reyes grounded out to end the threat.

The problem for the Cubs was that Joe Musgrove as even better through the early frames. Musgrove set the first seven batters down before the Victory Carrot ripped a double off the brick wall. Caratini would remain stuck at second as Musgrove retired another six batters in a row to cruise through four scoreless frames.

Q allowed a batter to reach in the fourth and fifth innings, but kept putting zeroes on the board. The Pirates didn't have another runner in scoring position against Quintana the rest of the night. Quintana struck out nine through six scoreless innings.

The Cubs managed to put a second scoring chance together against Musgrove in the fifth inning. Kyle Schwarber struck out for the second time to start the frame, but Jason Heyward drew a walk. Daniel Descalso floated a single in front of Melky Cabrera. Heyward was forced to stop at second as Cabrera was right there on the soft single. Victor Caratini struck out after working a 3-1 count. A low strike call on the 3-1 pitch resulted in Joe Maddon being tossed after he argued Caratini's case. The pitch looked good enough on the TV strike zone and certainly had been called consistently by the home plate ump all night. Caratini couldn't hold up another slider and then Quintana grounded out to end the rally.

Ben Zobrist singled to start the inning for the Cubs first batter to reach leading off a frame. Kris Bryant drew a walk to give the Cubs their first runner in scoring position with no outs. Anthony Rizzo bounced a ball to the second baseman that Kris Bryant somehow avoided being tagged by as he flew by. Rizzo was thrown out at first, but the Cubs were in business. Javier Báez hit a weak grounder down the third base line. Zobrist was running on contact and was easily thrown out at home. Báez felt that the ball bounced off his foot and didn't run out of the box. He was tagged and the inning was over bizarrely.

The rain opened up in the seventh inning with Quintana dealing. Q struck out another two batters for eleven punchouts on the night. The rain slowed and a Cubs starter was through seven innings for the first time this season. The Cubs bats were helped by the Pirates fielders. Jason Heyward hit a pop up that should have been caught in shallow left field, but the third baseman and shortstop both attempted to make the catch. The ball dropped and Jason Heyward was standing on second base with just one out. Daniel Descalso would make the Buccos pay with a soft single into left field. Heyward glided around the bases for the first tally of the game. That ended Musgrove's night with an unearned run scoring.

The Pirates went to a familiar foe in Francisco Liriano to face Caratini. The Victory Carrot ripped his second double of the night to drive in Descalso. That added an earned run to Musgrove's ledger and extended the Cubs lead to 2-0. David Bote pinch hit for Quintana as Mark Loretta opted to try to break the game open late. He drew a walk but Zobrist flew out for the second out. Kris Bryant struck out swinging to end the frame. Lightning started and the game went into a rain delay before the eighth inning.

The game restarted at around 10:00 with Steve Cishek on the mound. Cishek made quick work of the first two Pirates he faced. Starling Marte doubled, and that brought Francisco Cervelli to the plate. I'll admit to being a touch nervous whenever that particular catcher enters the batter's box and doubly so when it is a chance to tie the game or take the lead. Cervelli hit an easy flyball to Albert Almora Jr. and I could exhale.

The Cubs went quietly in the bottom of the eighth and that gave Pedro Strop a rare save opportunity in 2019. Strop provided a stress free 1-2-3 inning and the Cubs won a series. Tomorrow they can go for their first back to back wins of 2019.

Random Reference
Joe Maddon got tossed from the game but the argument between him and the home plate umpire felt about as heated as this exchange.

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  • Sanderson was an unheralded but solidifying piece for what, at least in our starving minds, was a decent era. I had never seen the Cubs win before.

    Thank you, and RIP, Scott.

    On not nearly as bad but still bad news, it looks like Caratini broke his hand during his last AB. He may be out a long time, and as much as I like Taylor Davis and his funny social media staring memes, I've been vocally worried about this very situation when pleading for the Cubs to *PLEASE* sign a veteran backup catcher.

    Damn, we won. I'm thrilled. No, really, I am. Just had to get that out of my system. Gimme a minute...

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    OK. So let me get this straight. IF Mike Trout is healthy, we may get to see what we've all been waiting for since the schedule was released so long ago: the matchup of ultimate talents at Wrigley. Taylor Davis pleading for Tyler Chatwood to attempt to throw the ball near the strike zone to induce a ground out to our stud middle infielder Daniel Descalso.

    That still didn't seem right. We won, dang it! Go Cubs, right? We did, and I'm happy. Really, I am. Another moment, please...

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Cubs win! Holy Cow!

    "Any love is good love... So I took what I could get."

    I'm trying to come up with a new victory rallying cry that we could all get around and survive the 2019 season. I'll tell you that trying doesn't seem to work, because the good stuff seems to form organically. I can't tell you when or why I thanked you and why I needed another.

    I have a completely stupid idea, but it is stuck in my mind. I'm positive everyone would hate it, and that's why I think it could work. If it doesn't, oh well. Anyway, great win, but honestly, with the news of Sanderson and Caratini, I'm not in an overly jovial mood.

    Cubs win! Yeah!

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    What I always think of with Scott Sanderson is pretty silly. I think there was a year that he and Jim Sunberg we're on the team together. I always wanted Sanderson to pitch to Sunberg and throw out a would be base stealer with the tag applied by Ryne Sandberg.

    What can I say, I was probably 13 years old.

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    A really good win for the Cubs. It showed resilience and great pitching. I thought Q would have to go 6 or even 7 and he did. Cisek did his job--he was dominant the first two batters and then I got a bit nervous but Strop came in the 9th and we needed this.
    I would like to continue a discussion in the last thread about Mantle and Mays and Trout. Trout is undeniably a HOF, although if he stopped playing now he wouldn't have the necessary 10 yrs to qualify. I wonder if he would be granted special dispensation.
    Mantle had great speed but in his first year, the 1951 WS he tripped over a pipe in the field and ripped his knee and never regained it, but still was one of the best overall ballplayer I ever saw. He was my favorite player growing up.
    Mays--do you know when he was 22 he had to take the year off for military service? He would have added to his already impressive totals. Also, the dimensions of the Polo grounds were astounding. Left Center was 447 ft, CF was 483 and RC was 440. Imagine playing in that for 81 games. You had to have speed and a great arm to play there.
    One note about Trout. As good as he is, he'll never have the RBI totals many others achieve simply because those around him aren't as good as Mays had or Mickey had. That doesn't take anything away from his greatness, only that stats can be deceiving.
    I hope he plays at least 2 game this weekend.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Trout’s worst year he slashed .287/.377/.561 for a .939 OPS. He also hit 36 home runs. That would be a career season for most players.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Mickey Mantle could have been the greatest player of all time, but injuries and more pointedly personal destruction left him just shy. What a shame on so many levels.

    There is consensus that the Babe is the greatest ever. I agree and I think the numbers back that up. There is another handful in that conversation: Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Willie Mays. Walter Johnson or Greg Maddux if pitching is your thing. But I think there has always been overwhelming consensus that the Babe is the Man. Right?

    We're all Cubs fans, and we all have our favorite players. I make no secret that I love Javy, and I've said repeatedly that Kris Bryant has First-Ballot talent. But we're about to witness true baseball greatness.

    Tommy LaStella is coming to town. OK, I keed. Mike Trout is on his way. I could bore everyone, including myself, with a bunch of numbers picked fresh off the interwebs to make me look smart, but no. What I know is that Mike Trout is not only the undisputed Greatest Player of this Generation, he may be breaking down that holy wall; he could end up being better than Babe Friggin' Ruth.

    Wherever you stand on this argument, please stand this weekend so you witness this greatness. You'll never see anyone better.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Yes, The Babe is unquestionably the greatest player of all time, and it ain't even close. The man hit more Homers in seasons than entire teams did. It's no accident he's the all time Career WAR leader by a mile. He leads his nearest competitor, Walter Johnson, by over 18. And, oh yeah, he also saved Major League Baseball from the 1919 Black Sox Scandal. Putting it succinctly, no Babe, no baseball.

    And if he decided to remain a full time pitcher and never hit one home run in his entire career, he's still an HOFer. An argument could be made that Babe is the greatest athlete in American history though I'd give the edge to Michael.

    Being out here in LA, I watched TLS hit 3 homers against the Brewers in 2 days. Pretty impressive, and he couldn't have picked a better team to do that against. Though it's truly sad to hear the Angels announcers refer to him as "Tommy Two Tone."

    It's 3am Tommy you morons!!!!

    I understand the trade but man, that kid can hit. And he will forever hold the Cubs record for having the best walk up song of all time. Glad to see he's doing well but let's hope for an O-fer this weekend.

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    In reply to YouCannotBeSerious:

    Great comment about the Babe. As you said, as a pitcher he would have been in the HOF. For decades he had the record for scoreless innings in the WS. He had a 2.28 career ERA. What a player!

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    That fact is always what clinches the Babe as the GOAT for me. Let me know when Mickey Mantle became one of the great PITCHERS of his generation; let me know when Walter Johnson's OFFENSE was legendary.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Barley- I just replied to you in the 4/11 game post thread, but the comment got swallowed up. Hopefully it appears by normal hours when it might be read.

    We definitely fully agree on the type of player Mike Trout is.

  • Carrot Top broke his hand? Please tell me you're joking. Trout maybe the best to have come to the Majors, but he hasn't won that elusive World Series Trophy. I still think Mantle, Mays, Bonds (before he became an ass), Cobb, Rose, etc. If Trout gets traded, I hope Chicago has deep pockets. The heck with Harper and Machado.

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    With the talent that Trout has I don't think his HoF credentials will need a WS win or even appearance, although that would be an absolute travesty for the game if ends up that way. Aside from maybe Bonds, and pre-steroid is all you needed to see, Trout is the very best player I have ever seen play this game. The before my time guys are pretty spectacular to read about but to actually see this kind of play is remarkable. I'm pretty angry that he's going to be a na Angel for life though since I don't see a lot of World Series coming, and I also don't see MLB promoting him the way they should. Essentially he's Michael Jordan or LeBron James and most fans don't know what he looks like.

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    In reply to TC154:

    HOF is not a team recognition, or at least it is not supposed to be.

    Afterall, if WS were even an informal requirement then we'd be deprived of Banks, Williams, Santo in the HOF.

  • Last night was the game we've been waiting to see from Q. In the relief appearance he had really good stuff but the command poor but this time he put it all together. The curve was nasty and he had great movement from the get go. Best of all is that he was challenging hitters. With what we saw from Yu in the loss this week, now Q having a great game, Lester being who he is and will be when he comes back, and Hamels showing flashes I feel a lot better about this rotation than I did a several days ago. If this team can get the offense and pitching working all at once they're going to go on a nice stretch of wins. I think we're getting close to that.

  • In reply to TC154:

    The starting rotation has been my primary concern for this team for a while. The bullpen is obviously less talented with a greater potential to be terrible, but there is just something about being able to roll 5 guys that give you a chance every night. The start last night is the pitcher that Quintana had been with the White Sox being able to pair that high fastball with a good curve. This isn't the first time we've seen this kind of outing though, and I am holding back my excitement until I see a couple more in a row.

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    Just for fun I did a quick summary of the numbers on the Cubs starters in this series. Here are some knee-jerk reactions:
    1. Lester's start was cut short (though his WHIP of 2.00 was unimpressive).
    2. Darvish was extremely unlucky. Yes, he gave up 2 gopher balls, but he allowed 5H, 0BB and gave up 5 runs. At that point I think John would have talked about SEQUENCING.
    3. Quintana was devastatingly effective.

    Here is the sum total:
    14.1 IP, 12H, 2BB, 5R, 5ER, 19K, 2HR allowed.

    Again, if Darvish had simply stranded 1 runner (as would be normal--the bullpen allowed 6 baserunners and NONE of them scored). But that is still pretty impressive. Especially considering Lester had an extremely short start.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Good point, guess it was good Maddon got cold & got himself booted calling balls and strikes. That left Mark Loretta managing and he let Quintana pitch to 8th.

  • Few tidbits Mike Trout is out for the 2nd straight game. We wish you the best Mike and you can feel free taking your time to get that groin healthy. Also Taylor Davis has been called up to replace Caratini which likely means Contreras is going to be the least rested catcher in baseball once again.

  • A pregame video tribute for LaStella? Don't get me wrong, scrappy middle infielders are my favorite (check the username). But I'm pretty sure when Aramis Ramirez was visiting Wrigley for the last time of his career, there wasn't even a standing ovation. I realize that's on the fans but come on now...
    Watching the birds the other night, David Frese still has to step out to acknowledge the fans every time he hits and he plays at Busch several times a year.
    Really I'm still just bitter about Wrigley missing the ARam opportunity and I saw a tweet about LaStella and I don't have twitter and I needed a place to vent and go cubs.

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    You’ve got to remember about half of the people in the stands anymore are there for social purposes or the party, that’s part of the Wrigley Field experience. Sad but true.

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    Ok, I just couldn't resist. I wonder why Bolla didn't comment about Quintana's garbage outing? If you're old enough to remember Flip Wilson, one of his funny tag lines was, "The devil made me do it." I just want to give credit where credit is due. Q was a quality starter with the Sox and he still has the stuff to be a 15+ game winner with the Cubs. Just sayin'...

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