Tonight was the kind of night where Jim Deshaies mused that “Kyle needs to join the party” and on the very next pitch, Schwarber launched an opposite field missile into the second row of the left field bleachers.
And the thing is that there was so much great stuff happening in tonight’s game that “JD reveals he bends the space/time continuum to his will” might get a mention at the bottom of Paul Sullivan’s notes column.
(Question: how can you bend the space/time continuum to your will and still only end up with a 4.14 career ERA?
Answer: That’s what happens when you have to pitch to Andre Dawson.)
What You Need to Know: We at BP Wrigleyville are pleased to announce a brand new scientific method for picking tonight’s player of the game. We start by entering the True Average for each player into our supercomputer and then multiply it by his change in WARP from the contest’s beginning to its end. Then the computer normalizes the number based on park factor and league average for each position.
Once that’s done, we use the computer to print up a box score, close our eyes, and point to a name at random.
So congratulations, Rene Rivera!
(Seriously. The guy had three hits tonight. Or, as he usually refers to it: a good August.)
Tonight was the kind of game designed to piss off Twitter. Because everyone should have gotten a trophy. Consider…
After a rough 31 pitch first inning, Jose Quintana decided to make the idiot who occasionally writes these recaps look like even more of a dummy and retired the next 14 batters in a row. Once he figured out how to get the ball to Rivera’s glove without trying to make it pass through the batter first, Quintana dominated.
Ian Happ’s first three at bats resulted in an RBI single, two run homer, and RBI double. Then in the sixth, he lofted a high fly that Starling Marte caught in the far left field corner. But this did not stop Happ from steaming into third base and pretending for two seconds that he’d just completed the cycle. He then sprinted sheepishly down the dugout tunnel where he presumably celebrated by letting the left corner of his mouth smile for .07 seconds.
It was the most hustle that we’ve seen for a routine out since every single time Juan Pierre’s bat made contact with the ball.
Jon Jay was a defensive marvel in the third inning. Reborn Cub killer Andrew McCutchen led off by crushing a ball to deep center. Jay sprinted straight back, corrected himself by veering slightly to his right, and then made an over the shoulder catch while falling to the ground. He barely had time to get to his feet when Josh Bell smacked the next offering into the nether regions of right center. This time, Jay launched an all out sprint and caught the line shot so perfectly that Schwarber somehow got credited with 20 percent of the route efficiency.
Also, a bunch of other Cubs were great but this recap is already turning into a Melville novel. And I haven’t even gotten to…
Next Level: Going into tonight’s game, the buzz was about Javy Báez adding braid extensions to his hair. Because if there’s one thing that makes a millennial ballplayer feel cool, it’s looking at any moment like he could break out in a chorus of “I Just Called to Say I Love You.”
With Pittsburgh in town, Javy’s new hairstyle was like putting a target on his back for Pirates analyst and vocal equivalent of Walter Matthau’s face Steve Blass. Which was actually a good thing because if Báez had a target on his back, it guaranteed that Blass would never be able to hit it.
We’ve followed Javy long enough now to know that if he’s going to do something like this, there’s a decent chance he’ll make something happen on the field that’s the baseball equivalent of “Check out the new do!” In the second inning, Báez found himself on third with one out and Quintana at the plate.
On the first pitch, Quintana squared around to show bunt. However, he took the pitch and Chris Stewart popped out of his crouch, attempting to catch Javy in a busted safety squeeze. Once the ball left Stewart’s hand, Báez decided to flash back to NLCS Game 1 and busted it for home plate, electrifying the crowd by stealing home without a return throw. It tied the game at 2-2 and the Cubs never looked back.
At this point, everyone wished CSN could hack into the Pirates’ broadcast control room and show the camera for their TV booth. If Steve Blass’s face could have gotten any redder, he’d be Clint Hurdle.
Top Play (WPA): Happ’s third inning home run (+.144) gave the Cubs a 5-2 lead. I’d say this was the most impressive performance by a Cubs sideline reporter tonight, but I’m pretty sure Kelly Crull also tagged Ivan Nova for 3 RBI.
Happ became the fastest Cub in history to reach 20 home runs, doing so in his 89th game of the year. I assume he celebrated by cranking the Leonard Cohen.
Bottom Play (WPA): David Freese gave the Pirates a short lived lead with an RBI single in the first (-.105). At that point, you could hear the voice of the Waco Kid warning “No, no…you’ll only make him mad.”
Up Next: The Cubs start a four game series with the Braves tomorrow night as Kyle Hendricks takes on Sean Newcomb. Since they scored 17 runs tonight, you’ll be tempted to predict they’ll be shut out tomorrow. Don’t be that guy. I’m pretty sure Mike Huckabee already made that joke.
Lead photo courtesy Jim Young—USA Today Sports