What You Need To Know: Two nights in a row, the Cubs entered the top of the ninth inning trailing 4-3. Alas, they went down in order this time and failed to pull off the magic they did the night before. Well, you don’t score six runs in the ninth inning every night. Maybe that’s why it’s called magic.
One can say Jake Arrieta was a reminiscent of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He was brilliant in the second through fourth innings, where he retired nine of the ten hitters he faced, striking out six of them—and at the plate, where he unleashed his first home run of the season. But in the first and fifth innings, he was more laborious, allowing seven of the 12 batsmen he faced to reach, including Adam Frazier, who hit a weak, routine come-backer to the mound which Arrieta botched.
The Next Level: More on the first-inning error by Arrieta. Had he made the play, the home run by Gregory Polanco, the following batter, would have scored only one run. The difference would turn out to be huge since the Cubs ended up losing by one.
As Dan Hodgman noted yesterday, no game recap would be complete without mentioning the Cubs’ clutch hitting, or lack thereof. Fast forward to the top of the eighth, with the potential tying run at second and go-ahead run at first with two outs, Albert Almora smacked a hard-hit line-drive to right field, only to have it be caught by Polanco, who played Voldemort’s role against the Cubs in this game. With exit velocity of 96.9 mph and launch angle of 14 degrees, the ball had a 72% hit probability. In other words, it would have at least tied the game and, very likely, scored the go-ahead run nearly three out of four times. Alas, there was no Harry Potter on the Cubs to defeat the evil.
Top WPA Play: Arrieta’s dinger plated two to tie the game (+.245). But his offensive output in terms of WPA (.229 for the day) wasn’t enough to overcome the win probability he coughed up on the mound (-.237).
Bottom WPA Play: Almora’s aforementioned line out in the eighth (-.106) which, again, would have tied the game on most other occasions.
Lead photo courtesy Charles LeClaire—USA Today Sports