A Game That Didn't Seem to Ever End--Cubs 2 Brewers 1 (15 innings)

Baseball is a weird game. The Cubs and Brewers have played 24 innings in the past two days, and the Cubs have managed just two runs in the nearly three games played. Yet the Cubs have managed to pull out the victory today that again puts them into first place. Cole Hamels was brilliant at Wrigley again and the Cubs bullpen matched Hamels nearly pitch for pitch. The Cubs scratched just enough across the board to earn victory number 23 on the year.

WPA CHART

Source: FanGraphs

Cole Hamels was very good. Hamels pitched seven innings of one run ball. Colebert pitched around three walks issued but really was cruising until Hernán Pérez launched a two out home run in the fifth inning to briefly give the Brewers the lead. Hamels had actually faced the minimum number of batters prior to the Pérez blast. A fourth inning Lorenzo Cain single and seventh inning Jesús Aguilar single were the only other base hits allowed by Hamels.

Unfortunately for Cole, there wasn't a victory to be earned since Zach Davies nearly matched Hamels performance. The Cubs were in position to grab an early lead against Davies with Jason Heyward's leadoff triple. However, Heyward was tossed out at the plate on a fielder's choice in the next at bat, and the Cubs went quietly in the first inning. Davies also faced the minimum through innings two and four. He also got two outs to start the fifth inning. David Bote singled and he scored to tie the game on Albert Almora Jr.'s double.

The Cubs forced the Brewers to go to the bullpen sooner with Davies not finishing the seventh inning, but the very good Brewers bullpen kept the Cubs bats largely quiet during the late innings. The Cubs bullpen was better though. Carl Edwards Jr., Brandon Kintzler and Kyle Ryan combined to pitch into the eleventh inning with no stress. Brad Brach induced a little stress with a two out double Eric Thames. A wild pitch moved Thames to third, but Lorenzo Cain flew out to keep the score level.

Matt Albers pitched into the first real trouble spot for either team since the fifth inning. Albers walked Anthony Rizzo and then Javier Báez singled to give the Cubs a scoring chance. Willson Contreras bounce into a double play which allowed the Brewers to walk Kyle Schwarber and David Bote. Almora grounded out to end the inning.

Tyler Chatwood took over in the twelfth inning and pitched four innings were he scattered three walks. Chatwood only allowed a runner which scoring position in the thirteenth inning, but the Brewers never could come closer to taking a lead. Javier Báez nearly hit a homerun to lead off the thirteenth inning. He was left stranded there with Chatwood and Addison Russell providing the final two outs of the inning. It didn't matter as Willson Contreras finally ended the game with a one out walk off blast in the fifteenth.

Random Reference
These types of games can be a grind to watch and must be a grind to play. It felt a little like Peter at the end of this clip when they won.

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    It was cold and rainy and no doubt difficult to play through but I think it was a very important game for the Cubs. Over the last year the Brewers have owned the Cubs and if they had won today it might have felt like “Here we go again.” Now we broke the momentum, took back 1st place, and they know we can beat them. A win Sunday night would be huge. I’m expecting Javy to wear his pink shoes and hit at least 1 HR. A laugher would be nice for a change. Continue their losing streak.
    Thank you Willson.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    "It's got to be the shoes, folks, it's got to be the shoes!". That's actually a Glenallen Hill reference, but it fits here as well.

    Those were some pink shoes, and one of the loudest CRACKS! I've ever heard.

    https://youtu.be/-fYIQFP07ag

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    I looked at your youtube and that was Javy's HR, but for those who don't get the Glenallen Hill reference, here is the youtube of it. You won't believe it.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wDrw76ieTs
    Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers and to their offspring as well, and that, I guess, is all of us.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Since we're feeling all nostalgic, I'll spin this:

    The Cubs have three walk-off HR's in the last seven games. The last time they hit three walk-off HR's, in an ENTIRE MONTH, was 1961. Feels like a daily occurrence.

    "It's like deja Vu all over again."

    Happy birthday, Yogi.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I agree that this was an important win against the Brewers. More in general the Cubs seem to be the reverse of last year where they win the tough ones instead of lose them. This team may very well win fewer games than last year, but it’s a better squad all around. Oh, and Willson is a beast.

  • Somewhere, John is smiling.

  • What an amazing game. There was so much happening that defied the odds and defied logic. Defied numbers on a computer screen. That's why I love baseball.

    When we think back on this game, a few things will obviously stick. The double-plays and missed opportunities (which naturally intertwine). The LOB. The Bote slide, and the Willson bomb. And Chatwood. Don't forget Tyler Chatwood.

    Something stuck out to me early in that game. Bote made an amazing slide, and without that, we all would have had a shorter night. It was an impressive play, I'm not trying to take anything away from his effort. But there was more to that story.

    Kudos to Venerable for the send. It was bold, but not uncalled for. Two outs with the pitcher up on a sloppy day. A run here could be crucial. Bote had his back to the play, which is why you rely on a third-base coach. And that coach did his job.

    I thought I noticed this when it happened, but I wasn't sure. All the replays at the time focused on Bote's slide at the plate, which is understandable. But now that I've had a chance to review video, it's confirmed what I thought I saw live. Almora's bloop fell into right-center. Cain kind of gave up on the play, and let Yelich take it. Routine play, no big deal. They were lax. Venerable noticed, and I think that's why he sent Bote. He knew the situation, but I think seeing that little bit of nonchalance caused him to wave the green flag. Yelich was surprised, and threw flat-footed. He had nothing on his throw, as he had not put his body in a position to get anything on it. He assumed, as did Cain...

    That's why you never assume in baseball.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I don't sweat typos, but that is disrespectful. Sorry, Mr. Venable.

    My point being, that play will go down in the books as an RBI double. Nice and clean on a computer screen, and into analytics. But there is so much more "baseball" going on. That split-second of laziness from Cain and Yelich may well have been the difference in a W or an L. As witnessed by last year, that one game can make or break an entire season. Numbers don't capture that. My hope is someday they will.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Yeah we knew who you meant. I did snicker though... :o)

    I agree. Lots of stuff going on there. Bote’s back to the play, but had the catcher in front of him on his way in. Noticing how he was lining up to catch the throw & seeing the catch, knowing to get the back part of the plate.

    I didn’t see it in replays that I watched, but was Cole there telling him anything about where to slide? Usually on deck batter directs runner but Hamels being a pitcher might not have been in vicinity.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Normally I'd blame that on auto-correct, but I'll fess up. That was all me. I knew it was wrong, and I'm making a point about laziness, and I was too lazy to open another window and check.

    I didn't notice Cole there, but that's a good point. Those are things I notice that numbers don't capture. I'll have to go back and find the various angles.

    On that point, another thing I did notice was in the 13th (?) when Javy was on 3B and Chatwood up. There was a break in the action, perhaps a mound visit, and Javy went to Chatwood on the on-deck circle to discuss strategy. It didn't work, but you don't often see that. Javy is a coach. He also got into the catcher's head during the next AB with Russell up, to the point that they were not going to call another breaking ball. A better hitter would have tuned into that, but Javy couldn't call time-out to clue Russell into what he was doing.

    Lots of baseball happens beyond the box score.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Love your points here BP and I agree completely. Numbers and advanced stats are important, but there is so much more to baseball. I don’t think the numbers will ever catch up to Javy, at least in his career. Another point on that play is Yelich has a below average arm for a RF. When the Brewers first traded for him they had him in LF with Braun in RF because of his arm. But Braun, being the selfish player he is, didn’t want to move so they put Yelich in right.
    I’m not saying Yelich didn’t deserve the mvp last year because he had an amazing year, but if that award wasn’t an offensive stats award & was truly an MVP for overall game and importance to your team, I think Baez may have deserved it more

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    Thanks, Cubpack. I can tell by your reply that you understand what I'm trying to say. I go off sometimes on analytical numbers and don't make my point as clearly as I should. That's my fault, and I'll try to do better.

    I'm not anti-analytics. Far from it. I love it. I was was reading the backs of baseball cards as an 8-year-old, noticing how walks didn't factor into batting average and formulating my own crude versions of OBP and SLG, before the world had ever heard of Bill James. I just think some fans take them to literally. These numbers tell a historical story, but IMO their highest and best use is as a predictive tool. To that end, you can't just say "player A has a higher #x than player B". Of course he does, anyone with an internet connection knows that. My question is "why?".

    That's my biggest peeve. People that can read numbers, but can't see the game of baseball.

    El Mago has brought this issue to a head for me. I find it simultaneously humorous and frustrating. There is so much that goes into winning a baseball game that is simply, and necessarily, immeasurable. Like yesterday with Javy on 3B. A curve almost got away from the catcher, and Javy was halfway home for the win. He retreated, but pointed and said something to the effect of "try that again". They didn't. Russell can then sit dead red, knowing there will be no more breaking pitches. How is that advantage currently measurable?

    I might sound mad some times, but I'm not. I love numbers. And I love Javy. And I hope to see the way that Javy impacts games that are currently out of the reach of standard analytics help to evovle and more accurately reflect what are the only numbers that truly matter in baseball: the ones under the "R" column at the end of a game.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Your line “There is so much that goes into winning a baseball game that is simply, and necessarily, immeasurable.” Is so true. I was like you as a kid, but not as smart. I always was looking at the numbers, especially batting average, but feeling like there was so much more to defining a hitter. The advanced stats are much better, but as you said, there is so much more that is immeasurable. And Javy bringing those immeasurables more to light is one of the many reasons I love him
    And, like you, I also love my barley. I recently passed 1,000 different micro brews I’ve tried. Living in WI, that’s a point of pride. Some day I’d enjoy having a beer & talking baseball with you

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    Thanks again, and don't sell yourself short. You seem pretty smart to me, as long as we agree. :)

    Congratulations on the 1000+ micro-brews. I'm not that much of a connoisseur, more of a consumer. The closest I can come to crunching numbers like that was in eighth-grade health class, when we learned how many brain cells alcohol and other intoxicating substances killed. I was pretty close in realizing I'd be brain-dead by age 22.

    We haven't heard from Norway lately. He mentioned last year he was coming to Chicago for his sister's (?) wedding in early August of this year, and we said we'd meet up for a drink. I'm hoping that happens and others might want to join us, maybe even catch a game. Something to keep in mind, and I'll mention it several more times before then. That would be cool.

  • Sounds awesome. Hopefully Norway’s sisters wedding is end of August. I’ll be in Chicago to see Iron Maiden August 22nd then seeing the Cubs vs Nats Friday afternoon. That’d be fun

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    *You can tell her that you know me...
    You might even get it free."

  • In reply to BarleyPop:
  • In reply to Cubpack:

    “If you're feeling down depressed and lonely
    I know a place where we can go
    22 Acacia Avenue”

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