Wheels and the not so broken Legman--Cubs 3 Phillies 2

It was déjà vu all over again at Wrigley. A Cubs starter again pitched a quality start but ended up with a no decision. The Cubs bats were active and created all sorts of traffic in the early frames. But the big hit alluded the league's best offense for another night in a row. The Cubs stranded eight runners in the first inning and did not manage a single hit with runners in scoring position all night. The Phillies once again were able to deliver a big two out hit late to flip the score.

And then a different script was written in the ninth inning. Kyle Ryan struck out the pinch hitter with a runner in scoring position to end the inning. The Cubs entered the final half inning still down just a run. Kris Bryant drew a walk to start the frame and advanced to his defensive home on an Anthony Rizzo double. Willson Contreras hit a pop fly into shallow right that kept Bryant at third. Albert Almora Jr. hit a bouncer back to Juan Nicasio who flipped it too late to catch the speedy Bryant sliding into home. Javier Báez was summoned to face Nicasio and it took all of one pitch for El Mago to turn the tables on the other Pennsylvania team.

Kris Bryant's base running accounted for two of the Cubs three runs, and the almost cliché arrival of the wounded hero delivering in the clutch moment. Well perhaps cliché for movies but it still takes some getting used to the opposite outcome being the norm. That inspired me to torture an American Dad recurring side bit to fit the offensive highlights.

WPA CHART

Source: FanGraphs

José Quintana and Yu Darvish both pitched quality starts, and both made it six innings. Darvish started incredibly strong and then was derailed in the sixth inning to give up three runs and the lead. Q was not nearly as sharp early on, but he was able to battle through it to deliver six shutout innings. The Phillies threatened in the first inning when Jean Segura smacked a one out double. Harper struck out and proved Theo right for not signing the talented right fielder. Rhys Hoskins drew the first of four walks that Q issued, but Almora was able to flag down a J.T. Realmuto flyball.

Zach Eflin induced a groundball from Kyle Schwarber for the first out, but Kris Bryant bounced a single back up the middle for the first of many Cubs base runners. Anthony Rizzo walked to move Bryant to second. Willson Contreras grounded out to short, but Kris Bryant kept running with the hit and run play on. He beat the throw home to give the Cubs the lead with some Javy-esque baserunning of his own. Eflin pitched himself into further trouble by walking Jason Heyward and Almora to load the bases, but Daniel Descalso struck out swinging to end the inning.

Quintana would pitch another five innings without allowing more than a single baserunner. The only real danger ever occurred in the fourth inning when Q walked Hoskins to start the frame. J.T. Realmuto switched spots with Hoskins for an out. Realmuto stole second with two outs and the throw from Willy bounced into centerfield allowing him to reach third. Kingery flew out to end that threat.

Eflin wouldn't pitch a clean inning until the fifth. The Cubs would place a runner in scoring position in each of the first four innings. Twice it was with two outs, but Descalso and Rizzo both couldn't come through in the clutch to drive in the extra runs. Eflin would only allow a two out single to pinch hitter Mark Zagunis to complete his six inning quality start.

Carl Edwards Jr. took over in the seventh inning and constant thorn in the side César Hernández singled to start things off. Kingery bounced into a fielder's choice and ended up at third on Franco's double. Odubel Herrera bounced the ball right back to Edwards who looked Kingery back before tossing to Rizzo for the second out. Brandon Kintzler was given the task of retiring Andrew McCutchen, and McCutchen was once again able to come through in the clutch against the Cubs. He punched the ball back up the middle to drive in a pair. Kintzler retired the next four batters he faced, but the damage had been done.

Edgar Garcia took over in the seventh inning. Kris Bryant bounced a hot smash past a diving Maikel Franco demonstrating about as much range as Generalissimo Francisco Franco. Garcia retired the next two batters. José Álvarez was the next Phillies arm, and he uncorked a wild pitch to move Bryant into scoring position. But it became moot when Heyward hit a groundout to end the inning.

Álvarez was given the eighth and got two quick outs to make it seem like the Cubs would go with a whimper. However, he walked Addison Russell and Bote was able to beat out an infield single that Franco snared. Schwarber grounded out to rinse and repeat the Cubs RISP woes. Xavier Cedeño was given the ball in the ninth. Kingery doubled with one out and that brings us back to the start with Kyle Ryan coming through in the clutch to keep the game close.

Revenge is a dish best served cold and Mother Nature certainly helped the Cubs provide it.

Random Reference
The Cubs were suppose to be mad. They were suppose to get one back. The hope was that the Cubs could cruise to an easy win but the rampage was been about as successful as this through eight innings. And then Javy provided a little help.

Comments

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  • Baez comes through again. Bryant is such a great base runner.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    I agree with this comment.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    You’ll like this. Heyward just said Bryant is a great baserunner but credited Baez for inspiration. Called it the “Baez effect.”

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    I agree with this comment.

    Keep doing this and we have to start calling it flirting.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Lol

  • I have to admit I did a dance that would land me a spot on "Dancing With the Stars" when Javy made his moment. I love being a baseball fan.

    A shout-out, and tip of the cap, to our own Jonathan Friedman. He and I were talking immediately after Javy's bruised heel. He envisioned the scenario when Javy would pinch-hit with the game on the line. He asked if this was plausible. I answered "100%".

    Javy did indeed come into the game, with the game on the line. In a pinch-hitting role, just as we imagined. 100%, my friend! A "Substitute", so to speak.

    Here's to you, buddy:

    "I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth.
    The north side of my town faced east, and the east was facing south."

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    Thank you my friend.

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    I could say if you saw me:
    I look pretty young but am just backdated, yeah.

  • My brand spanking new Cubs hat is giving the Cubs luck! My glass eye with the Cubs logo always gives the Cubs luck, but this is sweet. Now win tomorrow!

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    You know what this means, right? Do what you have to do with the eye, but the hat has to stay until I'm doing snow angels 2.0 in December. Work with me.

  • Hey BTW what's Bryce the $330 million dollar man hitting so far this Season? .227. is he hitting his weight?

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    Yes, he weighs 220 lbs.

  • I didn't get a chance to see the game, or Javy's heroics, as I had an opportunity to see the amazing Nick Lowe here in Jackson, MS (!!) but I just caught up on some highlights and here are just a couple of thoughts. These are two excellent baseball teams. First I would not be the slightest bit surprised if they meet in the NLCS. Second, this team has two legit superstars and likely MVP candidates in Bryant and Baez and I expect them both to be there at the end along with Yelich and Bellinger (who I do expect will regress to the mean given his silly BABIP but will still be a great player). Barring injury or the unforseen this could be one heck of an MVP race. Lastly, I know it brings some people angst but after the last few years it's fun to see the NL so competitive again. Outside of the Marlins and Giants everyone is truly legit competitors, if not contenders. That makes for better baseball.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Totally correct, Baez and Bryant are both superstars and MVP candidates. The bummer part is they’re both gonna take votes away from each other, making me feel like Yelich or Bellinger will actually win the award. I really hope they are both starting the all-star game along with Contreras.

    Here’s a Javy Baez stat that’s kinda crazy, his BABIP has actually gone up by 10 points over the last couple weeks.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    To add to my last comment, Javy’s BABIP in 18 games for the month of May is .511 - it just defies logic. More reason why I’d like to see him be able to make more contact instead of swings and misses far out of the zone. He’s the kind of unicorn that could bat .400 over an entire season.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Yesterday’s hit was at least a ball outside of the zone but that’s Javy’s approach.

  • In reply to stix:

    I'm okay with him expanding the zone by 3 to even 6 inches, as he's proven he can do useful things with those pitches, just like last night's pitch he hit was literally 1 or 2 inches off the corner. When, key word, "when" he's looking to go with the ptich he will get triples and doubles all day down the RF line with that pitch just off the outside corner. When he's looking to pull that, he'll ground out to the left side of 2nd base. It's the balls that are more than 6 inches off the plate that he needs to quit offering at. We'll see his OBP go up, his slugging will even go up, his OPS will skyrocket back over 1.000 once he stays within the limits of balls that are Smashable.

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    In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Baez BABIP has gone to a "silly" .412 along with Bellingers .403. Not a huge difference between their BABIP. But Bellinger has a lot shorter history of high BABIP.

    I don't mind at all if the arguments about who is better: Bryant or Baez (or Contreras--I was shocked when I looked at his slash line). And these arguments allow Yellich to win a 2nd MVP. The Cubs will not cry too hard as having 2 guys with legit MVP arguments and likely in the Top-3 at this point will be tough to beat in the playoffs.

    Baez Slash Line: .323/.362/.597
    Bryant's Slash Line: .275/.402/.556
    Contreras Slash Line: .317/.419/.612

    And we're starting to get to the point where SSS doesn't apply. And Bryant STILL has a low BABIP. wRC+ Baez is the weakest at 152 (!) and the lowest wOBA at .396 (!). That isn't a statement on Baez being bad but just how well Bryant and Contreras are doing at the plate.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Yeah Contreras has really been the most consistent player on the team all season. He sure is flexing his on-base abilities while maintaining the highest slugging % on the team. I think he’s matured quite a bit since his admitting fault in how he didn’t prepare and stopped his routine last year. He also maintains his opposite field approach as well as anyone.

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    We are a very talented team. Right now in May Heyward, Bote and Schwarber are all hitting .200 or below. This team is carried by Bryzzo and Willson. Albert A is hitting well in May, that might be because he's playing more and certainly his defense is worth it to have him in there. To me one of the important stats is .OBP and the Cubs are either 2nd or 3rd in that stat. Even those hitters not batting very high (Schwarbs and Heyward) are getting on base. Getting on base makes it possible to have more runs and SO are empty outs so even if some of our players are not hitting they are hitting. I know that Theo and Maddon have emphasized this--that's how we won in 2016 and have won over 90 games over the last 4 years.
    Our only concern right now is our bullpen and I do have confidence that Theo and Co. will fix it. This is a very good team, a quality team that can win the WS, and I believe that after the MLB draft then maybe some of these pitchers out there will be signed without giving up a draft pick.
    Go Cubs!!

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Bullpen & RiSP. Games don’t have to give us heart attacks (other than bullpen) if they hit better with RiSP. But yes, the bigger/biggest concern is relievers.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    It's not even that the bullpen is bad, it's just that guys are in the wrong places because there is no back end. I think people will be surprised how much better it looks when Strop comes back, but ultimately they need a closer. There have been noises about Giles, but the price might be steep and today we're hearing that the Cubs could pursue Kimbrel after the draft when the QO penalty no longer applies. Personally I'm scared of Kimbrell's performance after not pitching since October, but of course he's worth a look particularly since you would really prefer not to trade Amaya who I'm sure Toronto would covet. Bullpens are really tricky things, you can have good arms but if one or two pieces are missing or injured you have serious issues. that's where the Cubs are right now but fortunately the rotation is picking them up, for now.

  • In reply to TC154:

    This is a good post. As fans we get frustrated and vent and commenters on this site like TC walk us off the ledge. Sometimes hard to think of the 'big picture' in the heat if the game.

    From a season perspective, one of the things JOE is good at is keeping his team fresh. Last year the weather and schedule fate messed with us a little, but everybody has to do their job. I don't criticise Joe's quick hook because worn out arms arms are not a good thing down the stretch. He calls on his pen in May even when some relievers have been struggling because it is a long season.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Edwards was bad. Giving up a hit to score the tying & lead runs was bad. Blowing leads & letting the other team win is bad. They’re bad. Strop when he’s back helps. Who’s counting on Morrow? Not me.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    The BP would be better, or at least our confidence in it would be better, if Morrow and Strop were healthy. Cishek has been solid and has been a decent closer before, as has Kintzler and that's saved their bacon a bit - but having to have one of them close means that the depth of that BP is stretched more than a bit thin.

    How much is Kimbrel asking for again?

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    At least 40-50M for three yrs.

  • With all due respect, they were so fresh last year that they got to spend a lot of quality time with their families which aint bad. But don't bring up the schedule causing a problem because the problem was from the all-star break on even though the schedule made it worse.

  • Good series, both established respective division leaders playing good baseball and matching up strength for strength along with similar weaknesses. I think Cubs have a few advantages this year as I now literally have rose colored glasses for migraines, if you have them from light sensitivity please check them out.

    It was noted on ESPN that the question for the Cubs going forward, will the relative age of the starting pitching staff hold up through the season, but the reclamation projects of Chatwood and Montgomery provide the Cubs much depth here.

    My thinking is that Zobrist now is out for some time, this places a premium on Russell as he appears to be emerging to his form of earlier seasons. That still leaves a hold in the OF for a capable bat and corner OF.

    Naturally the weakness is the bullpen and between May 25th and June 15th we will see if an answer(s) arrive.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    Without prying, is there any "statement" from Zobrist or the FO as to when he might return?

  • In reply to wthomson:

    No but ESPN alluded to his extended absence.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    I believe family comes first, but I hope that he is able to get things in order so that he comes back soon. He might benefit from the diversion of baseball from the stress of a family crisis.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Very true. From a strictly baseball perspective, I feel bad for him and us fans for not being able to enjoy and honor what could be his final season here. We don't have the success we've had since 2016 if he wasn't here. I don't think we win in 2016 if we didn't sign him. I wish he could (possibly) go out in a more positive note, especially if we go as far this year as I think we're capable of.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    As far as baseball related activities and Ben Zobrist, this may be a blessing in disguise. I have to believe some of the off the field matters have effected his play this season. It hasn't been very good. If he gets to the point where he can just concentrate on baseball, he might have to go through a couple week "spring training" kind of assignment, but that would mean we'd hopefully get good Ben back, being super healthy and rested for the dog days of summer. That wouldn't be a terrible thing. We have so much depth as far as position players, that we can get by another month or so without him. At that point, he might be the equivalent of a trade deadline addition, but fresh instead of with all the wear and tear.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    I hope he’s back cubber I know he was off to a slow start, but zobrist obviously brings a contact ability that the lineup can use. He just complements this young core so well on and off the field. When you look at his wife and his social media, it’s clear he’s a big family man in addition to being a man of faith. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that he’s likely struggling to cope with this difficult chapter in his life.

    But selfishly I also hope he’s back around the all star break. I think bringing back a healthy, fresh rested zobrist could benefit this team over the long haul at his advancing age, If he performs anything like he had last season then this lineup just becomes that much more lethal surrounding our big 4. I’d hate to see him go out like this after such a great career, including with the cubs. This team has a legit chance at making a WS run so I personally do believe he’s going to be back at some point. Give him as much time as he needs we just need him for the stretch run. In the mean time this is a nice opportunity and experience for Addison Russell and mainly bote, who now will likely still see his share of ABs

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    I do not mean to be insensitive with this comment, but is Ben Zobrist being paid during his Leave of Absense for Personal Reasons?

    I am asking this because ....

    Can we use Ben's salary to pay Kimbrel on a one year "Make good" contract and still stay below the second penalty level of the salary cap?

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Read/heard somewhere that Kimbrel isn’t interested on a 1/2 yr make good ctt and if he was interested, why do you think the cubs would win a bidding war for him. I still think his second half of 2018 and playoff record showed significant decrease in ability.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    From what I've seen, a player in his situation can be paid or not. It's at the team's discretion, nothing is mandated by rule. The Cubs aren't commenting.

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