What You Need to Know
Jake Arrieta was brilliant, the offense was rolling, and two-thirds of the bullpen did fine.
Coming off a wild and frustrating four-game series against the Reds, the Cubs were due for a nice, easy win. Fangraphs had the Cubs at a 94% win expectancy before the end of the fifth inning, so it looked like they were going to get it. But Pedro Strop, who was apparently bored of a nice comfortable lead, allowed the Blue Jays to string together four straight two-out hits to make it a one-run game.
After losing yesterday despite hitting approximately nineteen home runs, the Cubs dinked and doinked their way to a three-run rally in the second. They could have gotten more if not for a questionable call at home that was upheld on review. Allegedly, Javier Baez never touched home. Baez has looked pretty good on the bases as of late. He’s been aggressive and forced the defense to make plays, but he hasn’t been reckless.
Baez also hit a long, long dinger in the bottom of the eighth to regain some breathing room. It was his twentieth of the year, and he became the Cubs fifth player to reach that milestone this year, which ties a franchise record. Ian Happ is only three away, too. Do not take this for granted. The Giants, for instance, don’t have anyone who has hit twenty homers.
On the other side of the ball, Jake Arrieta pitched beautifully. When he missed, he missed out of the zone. He didn’t walk anyone until the sixth inning. The hardest hit balls against him were Justin Smoak’s double in the first and Kevin Pillar’s double in the seventh. Other than that, it was all grounders, weak fly balls, and strike outs. This was his seventh quality start in a row, and yeah, quality starts aren’t the best indicator of effectiveness, but it gives an idea of how reliable he’s been.
As good as he was, Arrieta couldn’t finish out the seventh. He left with runners on the corners with one out and left things up to Carl Edwards Jr. Edwards doesn’t inspire as much confidence as he used to. I think he’ll be fine, but he hasn’t been the shutdown guy we’re used to. He was excellent today. He got Kendrys Morales out on a first-pitch curveball and struck out Jose Bautista.
Victor Caratini had the kind of day that could almost make you forget about Willson Contreras. Almost. He had three hits, including a double that was part of the rally in second. He threw Jose Bautista out trying to steal second, although that was more of a TOOTBLAN than a legitimate caught stealing.
Ian Happ struck out four times today, but he’s averaging a home run a game going back to yesterday.
This was also Miguel Montero’s first game back at Wrigley since the Cubs designated him for assignment, and some weirdo Cubs fans booed him, as if he didn’t hit a grand slam in the NLCS last year.
Top WPA Play
Javier Baez’s dinger in the eighth inning. (+.101)
Bottom WPA Play
Ryan Goins two-run, two out single in the eighth inning. (-.108)
Lead photo courtesy Caylor Arnold—USA Today Sports