Photo courtesy of Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Top Play (WPA): A series of events in the bottom of the seventh saw Dexter Fowler single to center (.040), Anthony Rizzo get hit by a pitch for the second time (.056), and Kris Bryant fly out to advance Fowler to third (-.056). This brought up Starlin Castro with two outs and runners on first and third. Mets reliever Hansel Robles went outside on the first pitch of the at-bat and must have caught catcher Anthony Recker by surprise, as he simply could not get his mitt on the ball, allowing Fowler to score from third (.210) and give the Cubs their first lead of the game at 6-5.
Bottom Play (WPA): Cubs closer Hector Rondon was brought into the game in the ninth to try and pick up the save and finish the sweep of the Mets. Things got off to a rocky start, as he allowed a single to Daniel Murphy (.115) immediately putting the tying run on base. After back-to-back groundouts that advanced Murphy to third, the NL’s youngest player, Dilson Herrera, stepped in to face Rondon. With the count at 2-2, Rondon threw Herrera a tailing slider and got the 21-year-old to bite on it, striking him out to end the game (-.119).
Key Moment: After Jason Motte was unable to prevent two inherited runners from scoring in the top of the inning, the Cubs came up to bat in the bottom of the fifth down 5-1. The Cubs then went to work, as Matt Szczur doubled home Jorge Soler (.098) who had led off the inning with a single. Szczur scored on a Wilmer Flores error (.068), Addison Russell scored on anRizzo line drive single (.138), and finally Bryant hit a bloop single into shallow right field to score Fowler (.206), tying the game and setting up the dramatic climax only a few innings later. The Cubs lineup once again showed great resiliency and came up with much-needed hits to pick up the struggling Travis Wood.
Trend to Watch: Travis Wood has now gone at least six innings in only two of his seven starts. Wood was roughed up once again on Thursday, as he allowed five earned runs on seven hits, three of which were home runs. He relies on command and precision to get outs, but neither attribute has been particularly apparent for Wood this season. The bullpen pitched well today, picking him and the team up and allowing the offense to complete the eventual comeback victory. However, Wood needs to at least approach quality starts more often if he wants to keep his spot in the rotation over the long haul.
Also, congrats to Joe Maddon on his 800th win as a major-league manager! This is no small feat, as he’s only been an MLB manager since the 2006 season. That’s a very short window in which to pick up this many victories and while we can’t necessarily quantify Maddon’s impact on his teams’ success, he clearly is quite good at this job. Go celebrate with a shot and a beer, Joe. You’ve certainly earned it.
Coming Next: The Cubs (19-15) will face off against the division-rival Pirates (17-18) at Wrigley Field as the Cubs look to extend the winning streak to five. Kyle Hendricks (4.65 ERA, 3.98 FIP, 4.81 DRA) will take the mound for the Cubs, while the Pirates send that guy who indeed is still pitching for them, Jeff Locke (4.71 ERA, 3.77 FIP, 4.53 DRA), out to the bump.