What you need to know:
Despite striking out 11 times against White Sox starter Carlos Rodon, the Cubs had a stranglehold on the game from the first inning on. It was on a three-run homer in that inning from Willson Contreras that delivered the deciding runs, despite John Lackey trying his best to prevent that from being the case.
To say that there was drama in this game would be an understatement. The teams and fans alike are bound to get a little agitated when the crosstown series is being played. No matter how much people deny it, the rivalry exists and matters to a good portion of the people both in the stands and on the field. The pressure to win is heightened for both teams, and things tend to get intense.
The first instance of drama was in the fourth inning when a pitch far inside on Kris Bryant was deemed a strike, causing Bryant’s third strikeout of the day. Bryant was naturally quite upset. He’s not known to be a player that ever speaks out against umpires when they make poor calls, especially when it’s regarding balls and strikes. Perhaps it was the frustration of strikeouts past or simply because the call was truly that awful, but Bryant argued. That argument got him kicked out of the game.
In the top of the fifth inning, John Lackey started to see his control disappear. When he plunked Jose Abreu for the second time of the game, Abreu was confused more than anything. It appeared as though he stood in the batters’ box wondering if he had done something to wrong Lackey. Then he took his base and promptly stole second with his blazing speed. The Cubs had a two-run lead at the time, which is pretty comfortable against a team like the White Sox. It was fine.
When Lackey hit Matt Davidson, it was also shrugged off. Lackey isn’t a great pitcher, and he was clearly losing a handle on his pitches, especially those inside. Sometimes the vitriol that comes from players getting plunked has less to do with intent and more about who is on the receiving end of said pitches. Had Abreu and Davidson been the only batters hit, it likely would have been shrugged off. It was an inside pitch that hit White Sox top prospect Yoan Moncada that set the alarm bells off. The White Sox retaliated by hitting Ian Happ, but the waters cooled after that.
Lackey’s lack of command was, however, still evident when he mysteriously returned to the mound in the sixth inning. He walked the first batter, which was followed by a double before his departure. An excellent inning of work from Carl Edwards Jr. removed the burden from both Lackey and Maddon for a questionable decision.
Top WPA play:
Willson Contreras’ home run in the bottom of the first inning (+.212) provided the deciding runs of the game.
Bottom WPA play:
It wasn’t a great day for Kris Bryant. His strikeout in the second (-.054) with runners in scoring position took away a scoring opportunity from the Cubs.
Lead photo courtesy Caylor Arnold—USA Today Sports