What you need to know: A blah start from Kyle Hendricks is made irrelevant by an explosive Cubs offensive performance. Kris Bryant leads the way, going 3-for-5 with two doubles.
Next level: The Cubs’ homer drought continues—coming into the game they’d hit two home runs on the year, and that…is…still true. You can’t blame the cold for the lack of homers tonight, either, as the Brewers hit three. But, where the lack of home runs before tonight has gone along with general offensive anemia, at least by Cubs standards—12 runs in the first four games, half of them on Thursday—tonight they scored 11 runs, almost doubling their total on the year. How often does that happen, anyway—a team scores 10 or more runs with no homers?
More often than you’d think! Or more often than I thought, anyway—about 20 or 30 times a year, give or take, across all teams going back over the last decade. (I could have totaled up farther than the last decade, but I posit you don’t care that much.) What characterizes these games anyway? Well:
Lots of walks. The mode number of walks for the team scoring 10 or more runs in a game with zero homers is five. Tonight the Cubs had six.
Not a lot of speed. Mode number of triples: 0. Of stolen bases: 0. This probably shouldn’t be surprising when you think about it—the modern game, amirite?—but I guess I wouldn’t have thought that in the post-steroid era teams could score so much just going station to station. (Cubs had none of either.)
…but not many double plays either. Out of 333 teams that did this since 2006, only 12 hit into as many as 3 double plays. Most hit into none. Which makes sense for anyone scoring 10 runs, but particularly when you need to score them by stringing hits together. (The Cubs hit into one, courtesy of Wilson Contreras.)
Lots of strikeouts. More than half of these teams had six or more strikeouts (granted a lot of these are extra-inning games.) The Cubs had eight.
Doubles, doubles, doubles. Well, yeah—mode of 5. The Cubs had 6 tonight.
So basically, the average team that scores ten runs without hitting any home runs is like…Jim Thome on a night when he didn’t hit any home runs? Which fits the Cubs reasonably well. They should hit more than a home run every two games, of course, but last year they were third in MLB in runs scored but 13th in homers, playing in a hitter’s park to boot. They were near the bottom in steals, too, and ninth in strikeouts. Where did they excel? Doubles (sixth), and walks (first). Who knows how many of this year’s zero-homer, 10-run games the Cubs will contribute—it’s pretty flukey!—but based on the very very small sample so far, this might have been a typically atypical Cubs performance.
Top WPA Play: Top of the third, one out: Kris Bryant doubles home Albert Almora and Kyle Schwarber, tying the score at two (+.134).
Bottom WPA Play: Bottom of the fourth, one out: Nick Franklin homers off of Kyle Hendricks, the second Brewer homer of the night, scoring two runs and tying the score at four (-.215).
Lead photo courtesy Benny Sieu—USA Today Sports