Better Late Than Never--Cubs 8 Reds 2

Baseball just doesn't make sense. A team that has struggled to find any consistency on offense all season. Scratch that. A team that has struggled to find any consistency period has now won five games straight while losing two of their best position players for the rest of the regular season. The five game winning streak has seen just two quality starts and a bullpen best represented by a photo of gasoline can. It was just over a week ago that this team was 4.5 games out of first place and in a tie for the final playoff spot. The Cubs are still clinging to that final playoff spot in yet another season to come down to the wire.

WPA CHART

Source: FanGraphs

Cole Hamels was wobbly again, and time is running out for him to find it. Alex Blandino flew out to start the game, but Hamels walked Phillip Ervin and Eugenio Suarez in back to back plate appearances. Aristides Aquino apparently doesn't just hit home runs, and he flew out for the second out of the inning. Hamels struck out catcher Curt Casali to end the inning.

Kevin Gausman was worse than Hamels thankfully. Ben Zobrist hit a groundball single to start the Cubs half of the first. Nicholas Castellanos struck out, but Kris Bryant ripped a single into left. Kyle Schwarber hit one into the basket to give the Cubs all the runs they would need on the night.

Hamels walked Michael Lorenzen to start the second inning, but seemed to settle in with three straight batters retired. Gausman pitched a 1-2-3 bottom half of the second. Hamels plunked pinch hitter Christian Colon to start the third inning. Blandino ripped a single up the middle. Hamels struck out Ervin for the first out. Suarez drew a bases loading walk, but Aquino struck out swinging for the second out. The veteran southpaw continued to battle his command walking Casali to drive in the first Reds run. Lorenzen struck out swinging to end the inning with the Cubs still ahead 3-1.

Lucas Sims took over for Gausman in the bottom half of the third. He worked around a two out walk to Kris Bryant to put another zero on the board for the Reds. Jose Peraza led off the fourth with a ground rule double. Lucas Sims one out single chased Hamels from the game before completing even four frames. Steve Cishek wasn't sharp as the stopper. Blandino drew a walk to load the bases, and Ervin hit a ball sharply for a sacrifice fly. Cishek caught Suarez looking to escape with the Cubs still ahead 3-2.

Willson Contreras hit a groundball single off of Sims to start the fifth. Victor Caratini flew out to left. Jason Heyward drew a walk, but Nico Hoerner and Tony Kemp were retired to end the threat. Alec Mills pitched a couple of scoreless frames to keep the Cubs ahead 3-2. Amir Garrett pitched the sixth for the Reds. Contreras singled to start the inning. Garrett then plunked Caratini. Heyward slashed a double into center to drive in the Cubs fourth run and chase Garrett from the game. Joel Kuhnel retired the first two Cubs hitters he faced, but Ben Zobrist drove in the Cubs fifth run with a single. Castellanos was retired for a fourth time to end the sixth.

Rowan Wick took over and retired all six batters he faced. The Cubs would expand their lead in the eighth. Ruben Alaniz pitched a 1-2-3 seventh, and he retired the Victory Carrot to start the eighth. But Jason Heyward walked and  Nico Hoerner singled to break things up. Ian Happ then hit a bouncer that Alaniz couldn't handle and then fired wide of first to allow Heyward to score. Jimmy Herget walked Jonathan Lucroy to load the bases, and then Castellanos hit his 55th double of the season to make it an 8-2 game. Kris Bryant hit the ball hard but right at Suarez for a lineout double play to end the inning.

It didn't matter much but Kyle Ryan added a little drama after retiring the first two Reds he faced. Juan Graterol and Phillip Ervin hit back to back singles. Eugenio Suarez won a nine pitch battle, drawing a bases loading walk. David Phelps was summoned to get the final out of the game. Phelps induced an easy ground ball fielder's choice to keep the Cubs just two back of the Cardinals.

Random Reference
The Cubs have a winning streak of five games or more for just the third time this season. Defying all reason perhaps this is a team peaking at the right time. Or maybe it is a team just beating up on bad teams. Either way it is whole lot more fun to watch this late performance than never.
better-late

Filed under: Game Recap

Tags: cole hamels, Cubs, Kevin Gausman, Reds

Comments

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  • Another nice offensive game. Now just leave Schwarber & Heyward alone. Zobrist lead off when he’s playing. And fitty fi phenomenal doubles Castellanos.

  • Kudos to Scwharber and the bullpen.

  • StL beat WSH. MIL beat SDP. The new Magic Numbers:

    Division: 15
    Playoffs (WC): 12

    And the not-so-magic (Elimination) Number (division): 11

    Now only 1.5 games separating the 1st WC team (WSH) and the closest pursuer (MIL).

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Norway: I have a random question. I’m a fan of your countryman, Magnus Carlsen. Is he popular in Norway or do people not care about chess players?

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    He is terribly popular. Similarities between Fischer and chess in the US in the 70’s and Carlsen and Norway can be drawn. Norwegians love their champions, regardless of sport.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    I’m an ex-pat Chicagoan, BTW, so Magnus is not technically my countryman, although I am also a fan.

  • fb_avatar

    Dinner tonight goes to the bullpen. Len said tonight we’ve had the best bullpen in September so congratulations, your table is ready.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Nico is getting the job done and then some. He is a player. The Cubs won't be the same without him, with or without Javy.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Zobrist and his quality at bats have made a huge difference as well. The more one sees of him the more one appreciates his importance in the lineup.

  • There was talk yesterday about Nico not being eligible for the post season. This article seems to be counting on him making the roster.

    https://www.mlb.com/cubs/news/cubs-playoff-roster-predictions-for-2019

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    unfortunately, I dont see how Nico is eligible for the playoffs?

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    http://m.mlb.com/glossary/transactions/postseason-roster-rules-eligibility

    "A player who doesn't meet said criteria for postseason eligibility can still be added to a team's roster in the postseason via petition to the Commissioner's Office if the player was in the organization on Aug. 31 and is replacing someone who is on the injured list..."

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Yeah, I think if Javy can't come back then that opens the door, or Theo will have a chat with Russell.

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    That was my assumption, but I don't know. Nico could be added, but part of the petition process could be that Javy or Russell be ruled ineligible.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Can’t believe it you ID’d by name “ Javy’s replacement” . Was that a slip or have you mellowed some?

  • In reply to stix:

    That was a slip. Someone needs to whack me. :)

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    It's probably safer for you to just whack yourself...

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    "Mr. Russell, I want to assure you that (whack!) we have the utmost concern for your safety and that we (whack!) absolutely intend to follow the MLB concussion protocol to the letter to ensure that (whack!) you aren't asked to play a minute before you are (whack!) physically ready...Now how many fingers do you see?"

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Can I do the whacking, please? I just want to do my part to help the team.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Charity raffle for the opportunity?

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Mr. Russell, we have saved you from yourself, now it is time for you to save us. IF anyone asks how you are doing, tell them you are Javy Baez but things are a little bit fuzzy.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    What has Russell done the past year to cause the hate?

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    "The past year"? Is that a qualifier? C'mon, man.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Life's too short to spend it feeding trolls.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    No second chances? People can't change?

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I hope that works out.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I hope the Cubs keep winning, or it won't matter...

  • Thank goodness they're hitting. The loss of Baez and Rizzo hurts, but they're gonna pay dearly if at least one of Lester, Q and/or Hamels don't step up in the next 10 days.

  • Hamels needs to skip his next start.

  • In reply to MilwaukeeRoad:

    Can't at this time. He actually was better than Q.

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    And Lester. The cubs lefties have all forgotten how to pitch at the same time which is not what should be happening.:(

  • Losing Javy and Rizzo for the final stretch hurts, however, this offense is really clicking with the additions of 2-Bags, Zo, and Nico, and Schwarber, Bryant, Contreras, J-Hey all hitting well. I'm not that worried about the offense. It's the starters that will make or break the Cubs playoff chances. They have been inconsistent all year as a unit. Q and Darvish have been the best of the group, if only Hendricks can pitch better on the road. In any case, today's matchup will be the Reds' best chance to take a game. We need Darvish to continue his dominant roll.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    Hopefully the hitting continues tonight. Gray has been very effective this year.

  • Not long ago, I would've thought the Nats were in for sure.
    Now I'm not so for sure.

  • If we can get 5 out of 6 against the Pirates and Reds I guess we couldn’t have hoped for better......but.....still have the chance to get all 6 so........let’s get it!

  • Great time for Kyle Schwarber to step up. It was nice to see Joe Maddon pull Cole Hammels before the game got out of hand.
    Will David Ross be the next skipper of the Chicago Cubs ? Wait
    and see !!!!!

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Ross has zero coaching experience of any kind, so doubtful the FO goes in that direction.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    Aaron Boone had zero coaching experience also. That seems to be working out pretty well for the Yankees.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I would say that is the exception and not the rule with coaches with no experience.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    Why would we get rid of the winningest manager in baseball over the last decade to replace him with anybody? He doesn't appear to be old and senile to me. this team will continue to win with Joe in the dugout and Anthony in the field and in the batters box. Having the smartest manager and smartest player on the same team is an unbeatable combination!!

  • In reply to charly4:

    Your "unbeatable combination" was "beatable" in 2017 and VERY "beatable" in 2018 and, so far, 2019, which is the answer to your question. I don't think David Ross will be the choice to replace Joe, but my guess is that the FO already has several people in mind. I do think that Mark Loretta will get a look.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Joe is not Casey Stengel and the Cubs are not the Yankees of a bygone era where there was no amateur draft or free agency. Joe is doing a great job with what he has to work with. Since Joe moved to Chicago no other organization has won more world series than the Cubs and I don't think he's done yet.

  • In reply to charly4:

    You still haven't explained how keeping Joe Maddon improves the Cubs chances next year. Best record? I'd argue he SHOULD have the best record, since the team 1)tanked to gain high draft picks in multiple years, 2)traded what talent it DID have to bring more quality prospects and 3)achieved its highest payroll ever. He was handed a team that was built to win, and some would argue that it hasn't won enough. After last year's dismal ending and no apparent improvement this year, I'm one of them. He's been very good at times, but he no longer has the team's attention. It's time for a change. BTW, the Mets thought they could resurrect Casey Stengel. It did not go well.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    If the options are retaining Joe are replacing with a first time manager I'd prefer they kept Joe. If they are replacing with an experienced proven winner I could get on board moving on from Joe.

  • In reply to charly4:

    I actually didn't explicitly recommend it in this thread, but I do agree with RonVet's premise that it's probably time for a change in manager next year. This team is more talented than they have played for the last two years, IMO, so if true, Joe is no longer the answer. Just my take.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Joe makes the right moves with the bullpens a lot, it just goes unnoticed. Our losses are blamed on that even though sometimes they are the right move that just didn't work out. The last two games he had to pull starters way too early. Then had to piece meal it in. I am sure people were cussing his move with Ceshek but that K on Suarez with a perfect slider right down the middle was a key point in that game. We came off the field and went and scored more runs.

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    I've been critical of Joe's BP decisions in the past, but I agree that he now uses the BP better recently. My contention has been that he stuck with Edwards and then Strop way too long in high leverage situations before admitting they weren't up to par this year. That cost the Cubs games they may have won if he had used other options.

    My other nit with him is the over-reliance on his "process" without using context. Meaning that, before the game he'll do something like "Man it would be a good matchup for pitcher X if these three batters come up later in the game", and then promptly does that, even if the starter is sailing with a pitch count below 80, and the BP now has three-plus innings to protect a lead.

    His use of "process" supercedes the context of the game too many times. Again, just my opinion.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    I very much agree with you Hef... It's hard to say this with certainty, but just in mentioning Joe's stubbornness in sticking with Edwards and Strop way too long, that's definitely cost us at least 2 wins. I only say at least 2, because there were many more games like those examples, as well as the other odd bullpen decisions he's made that have looked to cost us games. And if we just won 2 of the probably dozen, then the Cubs would actually be tied for first right now, and have the fallback of being in the top wildcard position.

    It's nice to see Joe finally manage with some urgency this past week, but if he displayed more urgency in his decisions all year, perhaps the team itself would've also responded with more consistent urgency. Maybe we'd be 7-10 games up and coasting into the postseason and resting all our tired players/pitchers. Leadership starts at the top of the management chain in the dugout. Joe has a very laid back approach, and I feel it's given the players too much of a false sense of security and calm, and that's why every game now seems like "Do or die" for the Cubs and their players. It's gonna be a stressful 2 weeks stretch for them, and then if they make the post-season, they have to find the strength to dig in and play with the same fire against even better teams, who will also be better rested down the stretch.

  • Now 6-2 on the quest for a 15-5 finish over the last 20 games. Not sure who to root for Nats or Cards, but just keep winning and we gain on someone. Go Cubs.

  • Looks like the Pirates will be facing the Cubs without their closer. If true, I hope it's a lifetime ban. www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/27636942/pirates-vazquez-jailed-child-solicitation-charge?platform=amp

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Whew.....talkin’ about throwing your life away........makes Crick look pretty stable now...

  • Since May 22, Kyle Schwarber has the following numbers:

    G: 103
    AB: 355
    H: 86
    AVG: .242
    2B: 19
    3B: 1
    HR: 31
    SLG: .563
    BB: 38
    OBP: .316
    OPS: .879
    RBI: 73

    He's been elite the past 21 games (OPS over 1.000 & even an AVG of .316), but he's been borderline elite for 2/3 of the season. His first 41 were pretty uninspiring.

    Obviously, with Schwarber the glaring deficiency is the AVG. Just get it to .270; just 17 more singles; just one more single every 9 games & his OPS would be over .900 for the season. He's got to find a way to beat the shift more frequently.

    Stats were compiled by me using game logs. I could have made some small mistakes.

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    The OBP seems light. BR lists his career OBP as .335 and this year's total as .325. With the increase in BA, I would expect OBP to increase, too - unless he's doing something different.

    With his power and his ability to work counts / take walks, I'd be OK with a .250 BA. I know there are other stats that tell a better story, but when he's at .230 and down, I'm looking for a trade.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Yeah, I was surprised to see that in his recent red hot streak his k% is up and his bb% is down. My assumption it is that he is being more aggressive, but what do I know. He had 25 walks in his first 163 PAs (through May 21), far higher than his career numbers. I also missed some HBPs in there which would boost his OBP.

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    I just checked the game logs on BR and got a .242/.321/.563/.884 slash line. So OBP and OPS were just slightly off. I used May 22 to present.

    The issue with the low BA isn't that much of an issue to me just because he takes all the walks he takes. His BABIP in that stretch is .244, so the fact his BA is .242 is somewhat remarkable since he has the shift to contend with. The shift hasn't really stopped him much lately. Keeping him in a position where he's got runners on base helps his so much.

    I actually had a Schwarber post locked and loaded for today's game thread. I think I'll make it anyway. Kyle's been a big whipping boy for a majority of fans, and it's totally undeserved. All the people who spoke out against him all season long now look somewhat foolish for their remarks. Now that the season has mostly played out, it's pretty easy to see he's a big league hitter who's probably gonna hit over 40 HRs and being paid less than $3.5M. He's not the problem in our lineup...

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    Nice work on compiling that, what was his average with RISP during that stretch?

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    oh lord. you're going to have to give me a week or so...

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    No problem, it definitely sounds time consuming; too bad there's not a website where they compile stuff like that from different date ranges............

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    His RISP on the season now stands at .237/.347/.557/.904 with 8 HR and 50 RBIs, so it seems that he steps his game up in those situations, since all those numbers exceed his season slash line of .235/.325/.515/.840.

    Also of note, the RISP stat is with runners on 2nd and or 3rd. How does Kyle hit with a runner only on 1st base?

    .397/.474/.765/.1.239 with 7 HR and 16 RBI.

    A case could be made to say he should be our #2 hitter if we had a legit leadoff hitter who's consistently getting on 1st base.

    Kyles slash line with any runners on base:
    .303/.397/.642/.1.039

    Seems like we should be wanting Kyle at bat when there are runners on base, seeing how his OPS with no runners on base is .737

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    Picking random start and end points don't tell the whole story. Can't ignore the bad times. Need to look at the entire season and not cherry pick stats.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Random start and end points? You mean like the start and end to a season?

    I'm merely pointing out trends, & that's not a small sample size. I'm (cautiously) optimistic that he's finally rounded that corner & is blasting off.

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    It's pretty obvious that if you're trying to demonstrate improvement, you have to use a starting point for the "after" period to begin. Good job putting this together.

  • Does anyone know enough about Javy's hairline fracture and treatment to have an informed opinion on whether he could a) pinch run if the Cubs were tied or down one run late, or 2) play defense for an inning if Hoerner had to come out for any reason. I know he would not bat, but I wonder if running/sliding/fielding would be possible without risking the healing process. I have no idea.

  • In reply to jeffalson:

    I asked a similar question last week and received a comment that pinch running would put the healing process at risk as Javy goes all out and might cause the injury to get worse because of his efforts.

  • In reply to stix:

    I could see that.......

  • In reply to jeffalson:

    Well.....he isn’t on the IL......he could run, disrupt a pitcher from 3rd base etc while wearing the goofy mitten......buttttttttttttttttttt......
    Where is he?
    Saw Rizzo and Russell in the dugout last night.....
    Haven’t seen Baez in 2 weeks.......
    If the Cubs are good with it who am I to gripe.....butttttttttt....
    If he isn’t with the team for as important stretch as this one.....there is no excuse......he could be helping the new kid etc.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    My guess is he is on some sort of specialized rehab at their fort in Arizona, trying to get back as soon as possible. But that is just a guess. It is curious the media has not mentioned anything about him.

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    We've discussed this and I can't find anything. My original thought was why wouldn't he be with the team, it's a hairline fracture and nothing you can do but time, for a couple weeks, and then maybe a specialized rehab process. Javy gives so much energy and knowledge, even when he can't play. Why not have him here?

    I take his complete absence, if that is what it is, as a good sign. Javy is not lying in bed eating potato chips. I promise that. Maybe he's back sooner than we expect?

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Probably best if he's out of sight. No need to tempt Joe. That's not to suggest I'd exercise any restraint in the heat of the moment.

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