If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear, does it make a sound?
The Cubs were blown out at home against a rebuilding team this afternoon. Does anyone care after all the emotions expelled yesterday? The Brewers were able to temporarily delay the Cubs march to a hundred victories, and a few key players, or rather pitchers, had some rough afternoons. But it is hard to muster much emotion about anything that happens until after October 5 at this point.
Top Play (WPA): The game started off so promisingly for the Cubs. Tommy La Stella hit a lead off single, and then the Cubs top WPA play happened when Kris Bryant hit a triple to the center field wall. Domingo Santana added to the difficulty of the play, but it was going to be extra bases even if peak Andruw Jones was playing center today. The Cubs offense would be finished one batter later when Chris Coghlan sent the next pitch into the stands and gave the Cubs an early 3-0 lead. Zach Davies settled in to pitch five scoreless innings following the three runs he allowed before recording an out.
Bottom Play (WPA): Early on Jake looked like the Jake the Cubs are counting on in October. The Brewers got an early run in the fourth inning due to some sloppy defense from the Cubs, but it looked like the Cubs should cruise to win number 95. That was until the bottom of the sixth inning. Arrieta walked Jonathan Villar who advanced into scoring position on a stolen base. It did not matter as Scooter Gennett hit a ground rule double to get the Brewers within a run, and then Ryan Braun hit a 3-2 slider up in the zone to put the Brewers ahead. The Brewers would add some runs later to make this a no-doubter, but the Braun blast was the key play according to WPA.
Key Moment: The key moment occurred in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Brewers had scored an unearned run to get back into the game in the top half of the frame. Willson Contreras and Albert Almora hit back to back singles to start the Cubs half. Javier Baez drew a walk to load the bases with no outs. Matt Szczur struck out, and it left Munenori Kawasaki to pick up his teammate. Kawasaki grounded into a double play to let Davies off the hook. The Cubs threatened a few other times, but the game really swung after the Cubs could not crack the game open. Thankfully it was two guys not likely to be counted on in the postseason that failed to deliver.
Trend to Watch: Chris Coghlan hit his first Cubs home run of 2016. Coghlan has played well when has had chances with the Cubs, but they have come few and far between with how the entire roster is playing. The playoff roster is the one storyline worth watching at this point and there are a lot of tough choices. The Cubs could certainly use some left-handed thump beyond Rizzo. The only negatives from the blowout worth giving a second thought about was the performance of two key pitchers. Jake Arrieta ended up with a quality start, but it was hardly an outing he or fans would be happy with. It has continued the up and down, comparatively, year Jake has had. The other was Carl Edwards Jr. He has been a real weapon while Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon were hurting. Today he did not have it while he gave up two home runs and three extra base hits. He did strike out the side, but it wasn’t until after the Brewers did what the Cubs failed to do in the fourth inning. There is little reason to panic about either pitcher due to today, but that is the only thing to even momentarily fret about.
Coming Next: The series concludes on Sunday afternoon with the Cubs’ best statistical pitcher facing Wily Peralta. The Cubs get a chance than to pad stats at home against the Cincinnati Reds who have yet to announce a single starter in the series. The Cubs will have Jason Hammel pitching in the opener, but beyond that is up in the air as the staff is being set for games that count.
Lead photo courtesy Dennis Wierzbicki—USA Today Sports