What You Need To Know:
The force was most definitely not with the Cubs or Phillies tonight. It was a back and forth game in which neither team really seemed able to take full advantage of any offensive opportunity, each instead producing a string of one-run innings that left the scorecard looking more like an attempt to convey something in binary than a record of a baseball game.
The inability of either team to capitalize continued on into extras, with the Phillies leaving the bases loaded in the 11th and the Cubs doing the same in the 12th, despite both teams having runners at third with one out. It was therefore rather appropriate that instead of a walk-off hit, it was an ill-advised throw on a double play attempt from Freddy Galvis in the bottom of the 13th which finally let Albert Almora come home for the winning run.
Mercifully, the Cubs didn’t allow a run in the first, but John Lackey was unconvincing through five-plus innings, giving up nine hits and three runs. Lackey was cruising through the first inning until he gave up a two-out double to Odubel Herrera. After that he rarely looked in full control, giving up several hard-hit balls and barely getting away with leaving two runners on to start the sixth, thanks to an extremely hard-hit Freddy Galvis line drive that went straight into Anthony Rizzo’s glove. His hanging curve to Maikel Franco in the fourth was treated with the disdain it deserved.
The contributions of Jon Jay and Miguel Montero to the team so far have been outstanding, and both showed why they are key components of this team. Jay’s quickness and accuracy on his throw from left to nail Cesar Hernandez when he tried to leg out a double was extremely impressive, and Montero’s game-tying homer in the bottom of the eighth saved the Cubs from the painful process of trying to scratch out another run against Joaquin Benoit, who up to that point had not given up a single run on the season.
The wider takeaway might be how much the lineup stuttered with Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward and Kyle Schwarber on the bench. Schwarber still managed to whiff in his sole plate appearance, giving Philadelphia starter Zach Eflin his only strikeout for the day and raising further questions about the 22-year-old. Nonetheless, a little more on-base ability might have helped to end the game a little sooner, considering that the Cubs didn’t draw a single unintentional walk until Heyward’s entry in the bottom of the 12th.
Top WPA Play: Montero’s blast to dead center that just barely got out, bringing the Cubs back once again in the bottom of the eighth (+.321).
Bottom WPA Play: The game’s most unusual play was also the worst by WPA: with Willson Contreras up, the bases loaded and one out, the Phillies used a 5-man infield to turn a 6-9-3 double-play that ended that Cubs threat in the bottom of the 12th. (-.333).
Lead photo courtesy Caylor Arnold—USA Today Sports