What You Need to Know: For the first three innings, the sides traded zeros. Then came the fourth inning, and they started trading some other integers. Pittsburgh one, thanks to a ground out. Cubs two, via back-to-back home runs. Then Pittsburgh came back with a three-run sixth. Then they went back to trading zeros for the final three frames of the game. Good for the Pirates. Less good for the Cubs.
The Next Level: Entering Saturday’s contest, the Cubs’ non-pitchers had posted a 95 wRC+ with men on base, 96 with RISP, and 82 in high-leverage situations, according to FanGraphs. Those numbers ranked 24th, 21st, and 22nd among all teams, respectively. They failed to reverse the course on Saturday, as the Cubs went 0-for-4 with RISP, stranded four runners and erased another one via a double play. Both runs were scored on a pair of solo homers, as I noted above. Sure, luck is believed to be out of anyone’s control, but this is getting beyond frustrating.
Oh, as a matter of fact, the Cubs’ pre-game clutch score of -4.58 ranked third-worst in baseball. Guess who ranked last? The Indians, their enemies in last year’s World Series, had -5.78 entering the day. Misery loves company.
Top Play (WPA): Ian Happ tied the game with a solo dinger in the fourth inning (.141), because long balls have been the only way for the Cubs to cross the plate lately.
Bottom Play (WPA): In the top of the sixth, with a runner on second, Gregory Polanco yanked a go-ahead, two-run home runs into the left-center bleachers (-.272).
Lead photo courtesy Patrick Gorski—USA Today Sports