What You Need to Know
The Cubs jumped out early and never looked back. Mike Montgomery threw six shutout innings, Anthony Rizzo stayed hot, and Javier Baez fulfilled his one-amazing-play-a-game quota.
The outcome of this game should not have been surprising. Of course, the Cubs demolished the Reds in a late August game. Still, this game felt like more of a treat than it should have been, and it wasn’t just because the Cubs put the game away early so you could switch over to watch Rich Hill prove that there is no god and that death marches toward us all. The Cubs felt dominant tonight, which is something they haven’t felt like much this season. Even last night when the Cubs scored thirty-six runs, John Lackey was getting knocked around. There was still doubt that the Cubs would win. There was no doubt tonight.
The offense was obviously rolling. Kyle Schwarber and Tommy LaStella both hit dingers. Jason Heyward had a couple hits in big spots. Anthony Rizzo hit a booming double. But the story of this game was Mike Montgomery. Montgomery, who is only in the rotation because Jon Lester is hurt, ended his night with a line of six innings pitched, four hits, one walk, four strikeouts, and no runs allowed. The left hander might find his way into the rotation next year assuming Lackey and Arrieta don’t return, and starts like this make it easy to get used to the idea. Montgomery was hitting his spots all night while throwing a knee-buckling curve.
He got into trouble a couple times, once in the first and again in the third, but he was able to pitch out of both jams while getting some help from Javy Baez at short. MLB has decided to not make the video of the double play he started embeddable, so just close your eyes and imagine Baez doing Baez things.
After the third, Montgomery was nearly untouchable. Montgomery’s strong start coupled with the offenses’ outburst allowed Joe Maddon to get some low-leverage work in for some of the beleaguered members of the bullpen. Justin Wilson got an inning of work in. Koji Uehara pitched his first full inning since going on the DL.
And then Hector Rondon came in. Last week against the Reds, Rondon gave up two home runs in an inning. They were the first Rondon had given up since June 14, so it seemed like a blip. But then Rondon gave up a trio of home runs to Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez, and Scott Schebler. Over the last week, Rondon has given up eight runs over five innings, but only seven of those were earned, so he’s just been terrible not atrocious.
Everyone else was pretty danged good, though! The only guy in the line-up to not get a hit was Ben Zobrist, and he walked twice. On a day where the Brewers lost a game to the Giants on a check-swing double, the Cubs reminded us that the NL Central shouldn’t have been a contest in the first place.
Top WPA Play
Jason Heyward’s two-run single in the first inning. (+0.143)
Bottom WPA Play
Josh Harrison’s walk-off homer off Rich Hill in the bottom of the tenth.
Lead photo courtesy David Kohl—USA Today Sports