Back in First -- Cubs 12, Giants 11

The Chicago Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants with a score of 12-11 on Wednesday night in what was a ridiculous see-saw battle.

The Giants scored two runs in the first off of Cubs starter Yu Darvish. Mike Yastrzemski led off with a single to right. After Scooter Gennett grounded in to a forceout with Yastrzemski out at second, Evan Longoria homered to left field. Alex Dickerson doubled, but Darvish got the second and third outs on a groundout and flyout to end the inning at 2-0.

Jason Heyward led off the bottom of the first with a walk and Nick Castellanos quickly tied it up at 2-2 with his 19th home run of the season off of Giants starter Dereck Rodríguez. Kris Bryant flew out, Anthony Rizzo popped out, and Javier Báez struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Cubs pulled into the lead in the second inning. Kyle Schwarber grounded out to first for the first out, but Ian Happ and Victor Caratini followed with consecutive walks. Happ stole second while Caratini was at bat. Darvish then got himself an RBI single to bring the score to 3-2. After Heyward grounded into a forceout with Darvish out at second, Castellanos singled to score Caratini. The inning ended with the Cubs ahead 4-2 after a strikeout from Bryant.

Darvish struck out the side in the top of the third, with swinging strikeouts from Yastrzemski, Gennett, and Longoria.

Rizzo led off the bottom of the third with a single, and Schwarber brought him home with this 29th home run of the season. The Cubs were now up by 6-2.

Brandon Crawford doubled with one out to center in the fifth inning. Pinch-hitter Donovan Solano struck out swinging, but Yastrzemski followed with a home run to bring the Giants within two at 6-4.

Rizzo was hit by a pitch to lead off the fifth, followed by a two-out walk from Happ. Caratini singled and scored Rizzo, changing the lead to 7-4. He then stole second, his first career stolen base, but Darvish grounded out to short to end the inning.

Things got really ugly for Darvish in the seventh. He got a strikeout from Longoria to start the inning, and then Dickerson reached on a missed catch error by the pitcher. The Giants tied it up on consecutive home runs from Stephen Vogt and Kevin Pillar. With the score now at 7-7, Darvish was pulled and Derek Holland took over for the Cubs. Darvish went 5.1 innings with seven hits, seven runs (six earned), no walks, and eight strikeouts.

Brandon Belt was the first batter that Holland faced, and he walked him. Brandon Crawford then singled on a ball that was deflected by Holland. Pinch-hitter Austin Slater hit a two RBI double and the Giants were now leading 9-7. The inning finally ended on a strikeout from Gennett, with a few boos coming from the crowd.

The Giants sent Trevor Gott to the mound in the bottom of the sixth and he gave up a leadoff single to Heyward. After Castellanos struck out swinging, Bryant got his first hit of the series with a single to right field. Rizzo then hit a ground rule double to score Heyward, and Báez singled on a soft grounder to third to tie it up again at 9-9.

Tony Watson replaced Gott on the mound after the Báez single and faced Schwarber. Schwarber grounded into a forceout back to the pitcher, with Báez out at second and Rizzo scoring to put the Cubs ahead at 10-9.

Since everyone felt the game needed more drama, the Giants tied it again in the seventh on an RBI single from Vogt off of new reliever Tyler Chatwood. Addison Russell then entered the game at second base and Steve Cishek took over for Chatwood. Cishek gave up an inherited run on a sacrifice fly from Belt, and the inning ended with the Giants now leading 11-10.

Jandel Gustave pitched the bottom of the seventh and got a 1-2-3 outing with strikeouts from Caratini and Russell and a ground out from Heyward.

The Cubs sent Brandon Kintzler to the bump in the eighth. He got a called strikeout from Yastrzemski and a flyout from Gennett for two quick outs. Longoria singled, but Dickerson struck out swinging to end the inning.

Bryant put the Cubs ahead 12-11 with his 26th home run of the year after a leadoff single from Castellanos off of new Giants reliever Reyes Moronta in the bottom of the eighth.

With a precarious lead to preserve, Craig Kimbrel entered the game in the top of the ninth. He got it done with strikeouts from Vogt and Pillar and a flyout to left to Belt and the Cubs could finally claim another home victory.

 

WPA CHART

Source: FanGraphs

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  • What a nutty game. I turned it on at 6-2 when Darvish looked like he was going to cruise. I wonder what would’ve happened had he not missed that throw.

    Glad the insurance-run replay didn’t affect the outcome.

  • A whacky Wrigley Field special. I’m really happy they have Kimbrel!

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    First of all, that chart looks like the stock market.
    Anyway, KB your table is ready.

  • We are back. Back in first place. Back in the saddle again.

    3 of KB's last 4 HR's have come in the 7th inning or later to tie the game or put us in front. I'm not saying he is the most clutch player ever as much as it is obvious some of these stats and narrative are random and arbitrary. Baseball evens out and the cream rises...

    "Barkeep gimme a drink, that's when she caught my eye.
    She turned to give me a wink, that'd make a grown man cry.
    I'm back in the saddle again... "

    One in Atlanta, one in LA, one in Houston.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    With all due respect, a HR has the same value in the first inning as the 9th. Any additional value put in a late inning HR is based on emotion. This is evidenced by his post season stats (.241/.308/.434/.703) which are paltry v/s his career RISP line of .268/.387/.475/.862, which is actually pretty damn good. At the end of the day, production is production.

  • In reply to mcoley32:

    After reading this, it seems sarcastic and argumentative but I honestly meant it to be in agreement with your post lol. It’s been a long night

  • In reply to mcoley32:

    After reading both those comments, I agree. That's what I just said.:)

  • In reply to mcoley32:

    That ain't nothing. You got a long way to go to match me on making a fool of yourself here at Cubs Den.

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    In reply to mcoley32:

    You're correct and incorrect at the same time. Is a team more likely to win the game when leading by 1 run in the 1st inning or the 9th inning? The answer is, the 9th inning. So WHEN something takes place affects the PROBABILITY of a win. So sensing that there was something "more valuable" about a go-ahead HR late isn't completely misplaced. It isn't just "based on emotion." Hence the WPA chart.

    At the same time, had Bryant hit that HR in the 2nd inning the runs would have been just as valuable. So in that sense you are completely correct.

    I always try to see stats in context. Depending on what I want to know WPA can be a really valuable stat. Or it can lead us to really weird conclusions.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Joel- sometimes I feel like you are very capable of writing the baseball bible. Always appreciate your insights and the way you think about the game.

    On the WPA factor, you do mention it can be valuable, yet lead us to really weird conclusions. Maybe you can shed some light on why Javy’s WPA is so low. As according to BR, Javy’s WPA is a paultry 0.282, compared to Rizzo’s 3.41 or Bryant’s 3.015.

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    In reply to Cubber Lang:

    I am flattered by your compliment. Thank you. I enjoy reading your comments as well as they are insightful and measured. And we often agree on things.

    I haven't really looked into things with Javy's WPA. I am surprised to see that his WPA is relatively low. It seems like he "comes through" so many times this season. My first guess is that it has to do with a simple number that BR used to post but stopped some time back.

    Javy - 357 outs
    Rizzo - 335 outs
    Bryant - 336 outs

    Some of those outs came in critical situations more than likely. Even an easily forgotten time where a player gets out early in a game with little fanfare counts toward WPA. It isn't something we only keep track of "late-and-close" or something like that.

    But I think narrative plays a bigger part in it. For instance, there was a game earlier this year (May 21 vs PHI) where Javy didn't start but came off the bench for a walk off single with the bases loaded. Everyone was all excited about that game--and rightfully so--and commented how Javy, with one swing of the bat, hit an opposite field single and "won the game." That wasn't how WPA saw it. It gave credit, to the lead off hitter working a BB. That put a runner on 1B with nobody out with a 1-run deficit. Going into the PA the Cubs had a 14% chance of winning. When Bryant BB that actually helped a lot. Their odds of winning went from 14% to 35%. A WPA of 21 points. He also scored on a weak FC by Albert Almora on really good baserunning. While WPA doesn't distinguish "good baserunning" particularly it DOES recognize that the teams odds of winning go up SUBSTANTIALLY when they tie the game in the bottom of the ninth with only 1-out (if memory serves). They went from a 29% chance to an 84% chance. A MONSTROUS jump of 55 points! That also left very little room for Javy's hit to "improve" the Cubs chances of winning.

    I point this out NOT because it explains all of the difference between the two player's WPA but as an illustration of how a number, taken out of context, can lead to really strange conclusions. I remember all the Javy backers so excited about how Javy can come into a game where the team was struggling and just finish it off. Like a "ringer" who is brought in to end the game with a flourish. Javy succeeded. And he deserves credit for delivering a PH base hit. It was wonderful. But WPA also credits the guys who got on base BEFORE he even came to the plate. It recognizes the little things that are done to help/hurt the teams "chances" of winning the game THROUGHOUT the game. EVERY PA shifts things. Every stolen base--or caught stealing--moves the team closer to victory or defeat. WPA assigns a value to that change based on a huge data set of "When the 'state of the game' changed by this factor here was how the odds of winning/losing changed." We can be grasped by narrative. We are human beings afterall. And the narrative of that game was that Javy delivered the "critical" hit (again, I don't mean to disparage his contribution). But the numbers indicate that there is ANOTHER way to view the situation. And in that view, Javy played a significant role, but other players contributed. And, arguably, contributed more. Though with less fan-fare.

    In truth, WPA has a place in evaluating things. But on principle I'm not a big fan of it. I agree with the original poster: A run is a run. It isn't really "more valuable" if it comes in the 9th inning. As I said above, if Bryant hits a 2-run HR in the 1st inning the Cubs chances of winning AT THE END are the same. Simply outscore the other team. When the runs come in is irrelevant. But an argument can be made for a R late in the game being "more valuable" than earlier. Especially when it moves the team from trailing to leading late in the game.

    Honestly, the more I study baseball stats--and I STILL prefer stats--the more I realize "sabre-metrics" doesn't "say" anything. We've all read the sentences: "The data says that you should..." The data seldom "say" anything. They are..."data." They can lead us to conclusions. They can be evidence, but rarely "proof" of anything. But there is a fair amount of "interpretation" involved. We've all seen inexperienced stat-minded evaluators. And it just gives fodder to those who disparage the use of stats predominantly to evaluate players.

    I will even put a caveat onto the "you should never bunt because moving a runner over at the cost of an out DECREASES your chance of scoring." First of all, I believe it decreases your chances of scoring multiple runs. But that may be incorrect. What if the game is tied in the bottom of the 9th inning and you have runners on 1st and 2nd with nobody out. I might consider bunting in that situation. Though probably not if I'm behind by a run. But it also makes an assumption: All hitters are, roughly, equally talented, or equally likely to get a hit. Which is demonstrably untrue. Asking Almora to bunt may well be less costly to the offense than asking Baez/Bryant/Rizzo to bunt. Because Baez is more likely to do damage by swinging away than Almora is. That being said, I STILL advocate not bunting in most situations. But there IS a place for it in baseball, IMO. In very limited situations (we are talking about less than 20x, maybe less than 10x per season).

    Without doing a "deep dive" into Javy's stats (I'm too sleepy for that at the moment) that is my best guess why his WPA is so low. He succeeds with a ton of flair. But, if I may borrow BP's illustration via song lyrics here's one by country singer Chad Brock:
    Thunder's just the noise, boys. Lightning does the work.

    Again, Javy does help out the team a ton. He hits for power (not just HR but 2B as well). But it is easy, if we just watch him play, to over-estimate his contribution to the final score. And under-estimate the contribution of others who may have just drawn a lowly BB...and then scored the tieing run.

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    In reply to Cubber Lang:

    As far as leading us to weird conclusions I bring you Daniel Descalso. He had a couple great years of WPA leading ESPN to write an article about him extolling his "clutch" stat on fangraphs (a stat that uses WPA like BA uses hits: it pretty much IS the stat). While this year's numbers are well below last year's it shows the shortcomings in that WHEN someone gets their hits (and he didn't have a great BA last year) can REALLY distort things.

    I am not saying, "We should have foreseen Descalso having an awful year." That is hind-sight. His drop is beyond what we could reasonably expect. But that Descalso was anything more than a player who was holding on to a MLB roster spot had more to do with the distortions WPA can make than it does with reality.

    A similar thing can happen with a stat we're all familiar with. A guy who has a high BA but low OBP/SLG (a "slap hitter") has value. Those are not "outs" when he gets hits. But it can inflate his value beyond someone who hits for more power and draws BB but hits for a low average.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    "I'm not saying he is the most clutch player ever as much as it is obvious some of these stats and narrative are random and arbitrary."

    YES!!!

  • 'Bout over these mosquitos.

    What a win! I'm heading out for the weekend. My only niece is getting married, and we're doing it our way. Pulled pork on the smoker, live music, and I'm going to go BOOM! I'll try to keep up, and hopefully we can open a little more of a lead. Hold down the fort.

    Go Cubs!

  • MIL beat StL to avoid a sweep and give us the first DoubleDip (registered trademark pending) of this year’s Magic Number Countdown. Both the closest pursuers in the WC race, PHI and NYM, won. Thus the new Magic Numbers:

    Division: 37
    Playoffs: 35

    StL starts a 4-game weekend set vs COL tonight.

  • This team basically lives and dies with the home run.

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    I agree, as do the other 29 teams in the MLB.

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    you are right on here. Until they add more speed to their lineup they will remain an also ran. They have enough speed to play defense but not to steal bases, execute the hit and run, beat out bunts, etc. These are the things the best teams can do. Only Baez can do the little things but they have him buried in the middle of the lineup where his power, but not speed help the team. I'm sorry they didn't pick up Billy Hamilton. He would have been a good fit for us.

  • In reply to charly4:

    I'll never understand the fascination with players who run fast but have no hit tool. There's a reason Hamilton keeps getting traded, DFA's and otherwise subtracted from lineups - he stinks. His career OPS+ of 68 is lower than Almora's 69 this year, which got him sent to AAA, and Billy's CAREER OPS+ is a whopping 44. Keep in mind that Hamilton's speed is one reason he has a .209 BA this year. If he wasn't beating out ground balls and bunts, it'd be even worse. Aside from using him as an occasional pinch runner, he's a waste of roster space.

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    Cliff, I like speed because it helps on defense and from taking the extra base, but now I want speed (forget the BA) because it can help us win a game.
    We're tied, Caratini is on 2nd, put in Terrance Gore and he scores from almost any hit to the outfield. Or someone singles and put him in and he steals 2nd and he's in scoring position.
    I like to have a speedy team in general--StL and the Dodgers won on speed and defense, but now is the time I really like it.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Jonathan, I like speed, too, but as a part of a package that makes a more complete ballplayer, not as a standalone feature. Sure, we can come up with scenarios where Gore scores a winning run from 2nd base - but we can also come up with scenarios where the team needs a pinch-hitter and Gore is all that's left on the bench, or where Gore has already been used in an earlier inning, or where Gore is put in for defensive purposes and there's nobody left to pinch-hit for him later when he's up to bat and the Cubs desperately need a baserunner. I don't object to having him when the rosters expand to 40 (for the last time this September) but, otherwise, give me a ballplayer.

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    I'm with you, Cliff. Given the choice between Terrence Gore and Kyle Schwarber (as good an illustration opposite poles as I can come up with off the top of my head) and I will take Schwarber and his lack of foot speed in exchange for enormous power. Speed MIGHT turn into runs created/prevented. Power will MUCH more dependably.

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    I believe they scored 6 runs w/o benefit of a homer. 6 runs per game is pretty good.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Cubs are 5th in mlb in HR/AB trailing only the Yankees, Twins, Astros and Dodgers (all division leaders). There biggest problem is strikeouts (19th) which pulls there runs per game down to 11th (which is 4th or 5th in NL). So strikeouts are the biggest issue in my book, not home runs.

    You may argue that swinging for the long ball is the reason for the strikeouts. I would say Baez is the only one that fits that category. Castellanos is an example of hitting pitches in the strike zone and hitting them hard. Which I agree this team needs more of.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    The Cubs offense is not the problem. It's generally been good all year, even on the road. Add in Nicky 2/4Bags, and they have a deep lineup on most nights.

    The BP (at least the good ones) has been banged up, and RPs who have struggled all year, like Strop, have continuously been getting high leverage situations to pitch in (and fail). The Cubs problem is that they wasted games they should have won, too many times because the wrong RP was brought in, or brought in too early, or kept in too long.

    That should start to change. I believe Joe has seen the light. We have three good RPs to rely on for 7/8/9 in Cishek/Kintzler/Kimbrel, and two others in Wick and Ryan who have been good all year. Add in Chatwood, who has really helped out, for the most part, and the pen is good. We just need Joe to start mixing in the right guys in the right situations. What I've seen in the last two nights (other than leaving Holland in too long) is very encouraging. I think Joe finally realizes who he can rely on in the pen. That bodes well for the Cubs chances.

  • Wow, what a game! Gold stars to the back end of our bullpen for shutting down the Giants for the last 9 outs.

    Schwarber's been having some really good at bats lately! Keep goin' the other way and taking what the pitchers give you.

    Rizzo, despite losing his power for quite some time, never forgot how to work tough at bats and keeps getting hits and walks. Rizzo's slash line since July 6 (not counting tonight's game) is .336/.447/.560/1.007. Take out his last 5 games where he's mashing, and his BA was still .327 with an OBP of .423 with an OPS just below .900.... That dude is stud whether he's at his best, or not!

    There aren't even words that can fully show the appreciation I am gaining for Castellanos. I think he may well be worth exploring a contract in the offseason. With the way things have gone the last couple years, I'd think something around 6yr/$120M gets it done. Then again, maybe that's even too much for us to want to put into one guy when we still should be thinking about extending Baez and Bryant, and hopefully keeping Rizzo around longer.

    As for Thursday's game, I'm really hoping Hendricks has a nice outing and pitches deep into the game. Would like to see the bullpen get saved for the tough series coming up against the Nationals.

    20-15 since the all-star break. Not as great as we hoped, but it's better than I thought we'd be doing, I hope I continue to be wrong about this team and their post season chances.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    I should point out that my favorite part of Castellanos’s game tonight was his hustle in the 8th inning to leg out the infield single before KB’s blast!

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    And then him losing his shit rounding 2nd on the KB homer was my favorite part!

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    My favorite part was Castellanos hustle in the 8th and how tickled he was rounding second, when Kris pounded that ball to the bleachers. He could smell the W. He has been a spark plug.

  • Was at the game last night. Really liked the fight in the team and the hustle. Aside from Castellano's infield signal Clubber Lang correctly states, Schwarber broke up a double play hustling to first (Twice I think? My memory is often spotty but I think he did it twice) - although not as critical a moment it was great to see. Got some good photos of Schwarber and Bryant's home runs... After the game we were joking that every time I pointed the camera at the field someone hit a home run although I'll admit that was not a tall order last night given the way the ball was flying out of the park. Still, if the Cubs want to hire me to sit in the ballpark every day and point a camera at the field to produce home runs, I'm game!

  • Yeah, that was one heckuva roller coaster ride. I love the fight in this team. Just think if they had a decent hitter at the top of the order before Castellanos.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    I'm dreaming of signing Castellanos and trading a combination of Schwarber, Almora, Happ, Bote, a bag of practice balls and a couple of game-worn jock straps for a centerfielder who can lead off.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I'm not trading Schwarber ... I still believe there is more to come in his bat

  • In reply to stv711:

    Agree on Schwarber. His OPS (which is a far, far better measure of offensive ability than BA) is .815, which is very good. Since the All-Star break, it is over .900, which is elite-level hitting. We are knee-deep in the pennant chase season, and he has been huge during this time.
    His BA should be higher, but if you only focus on that you will not understand how good he has been with the bat (and drawing walks) this year.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    I'm just not in love with Schwarber's numbers, and I think fans overlook his shortcomings for the occasional HR he hits. His OBP, including his walks, is barely "OK."

    Schwarber's occasional HR props up his numbers Take those 29 HRs out of the equation and for the other 378 ABs his slugging % drops to .222 while his OPS falls to .546. I know, you can't separate the HRs, but I think the Cubs can do better in LF.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Schwarber has been plain good with the bat this year. He also gets a ton of walks, in addition to the power he provides. He is in the top 3 in BB on the team, and close to #1. The only guys with more have 50+ more PAs.

    All you have to do is watch how pitchers approach Schwarber to see his affect on the game. Other than the first FB in the at bat, they hardly ever challenge him. It's all pitches to the edges of the strike zone, or beyond. They are petrified of throwing him anything good. Just watch. He is a patient guy, but if anything he probably needs to be even more patient.

    He just does not get challenged by most pitchers, even on 3-2 counts.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    Same lineup, same results.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I think it's a reach to call Schwarber's home runs "occasional". He leads the team and has fewer at bats than those close to him.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Sorry Cliff, but if you just cherry pick the home runs right out of any players stat line, it will make them look like they don’t belong in the majors, even Javy would be reduced to an OPS below anything acceptable, maybe even lower the .546 you claim Schwarber’s would be, so no point has really been made here in your case.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Let's "cherry pick" the HRs right out of some other player's stat line and see how they do. How about Rizzo, who slugs .319 in ABs when he doesn't hit a HR. Bryant? .321. What about somebody who doesn't hit a lot of HRs, like Castellanos? How about .364? Wilson Contreras? .286. My point, which absolutely IS a point whether you understand or agree, is that Schwarber gives you an occasional thrill mixed in with a lot of suck - and keep in mind that he does that with Joe finding him "favorable" pitching matchups. The Cubs can, and should, do better in LF.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Since you mentioned Baez? He's slugging .329 this year when he doesn't hit a HR.

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    I am not getting your .222 number for SLG. I tried keeping the ABs the same AND removing them as if they never took place. And I got SLG of .277 and .298 respectively. Did I calculate it wrong somehow? The formula is correct as I included the HR and got the same .491 SLG that is listed on fangraphs.

    Anyway, as for the "occassional" HR thing he leads the team in HR DESPITE having 50 fewer PAs than Bryant, Baez and Rizzo.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    With the 29 ABs in which he hit a HR subtracted, Schwarbs has had 381 ABs this year (BR #s) He has 45 singles (45 bases), 18 doubles (36) and 1 triple (3) for a total of 84 bases. Divided by 381 ABs, that comes to a .220 SLG for ABs in which he didn't HR. I used 2019 numbers from baseball reference.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    That's down from .222 due to Schwarber's 0-3 yesterday.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    You can take away anything someone does well and make them look bad. This is a weird way to cut stats down. It seems your complaint on Schwarber is his lower batting average. I got it. We all want him to hit above .280.

    It would be like saying if Kyle Hendricks were not allowed to throw his change up, his ERA would be 7.50.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    It's more like a way of saying Kyle Schwarber is good 1 time out of 14, so he's a great hitter, right? Would be be talking about how great Hendricks is if he stunk 13 times out of 14?

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    After 3+ years, if we haven't seen it yet, we're not likely to...

  • I didn't comment last night because I was drinking. Was glad when we brought in Chatty as he had been so good lately in that situation. Arghh. Made me drink more. KB has won three games in the last 10 games with dingers late. Sunday at Cincy, then Saturday in Pittsburgh, and last night. Love it.

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    I think they need to throw Chatwood a little more before expecting him to come in rusty in a high leverage inning. He gets buried on the back of the bullpen.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    maybe but those were just the kind of situations where he had been so steady recently. Hopefully that was just a hiccup.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    I agree. I think he’s become very valuable with regular work.

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    Can’t drink and type at the same time.
    LOL

  • In reply to TheSarge#36:

    Oh, I can type fine, I just can't drink and think at the same time. :)

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