What You Need To Know: Ryan Braun got the scoring started in the first inning when he hit a 2-run home run. The Cubs threatened to score in the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th inning, getting a runner to at least 2nd base in each of these frames, but the hitless bottom of the order routinely killed each opportunity. Though Lackey pitched well, the offense was completely stifled.
Next Level: John Lackey pitched 7 innings for the second consecutive game (the first time he’s done that this season), striking out nine and allowing only two runs. Though two of the three outs in the first were on hard-hit balls, Lackey settled down for the rest of the game, allowing only two more hits. His game score of 67 is tied for his third-highest this season. In the second half, Lackey’s performance has steadily improved, and the fact that he has looked stronger these past two starts, particularly tonight in which he threw over 100 pitches for the first time since May 16th, bodes well for the rest of the month.
Largely over the course of the season (and particularly in the second half), the Cubs’ offense has had to bail out the pitching, both starting and bullpen. But over the past number of games, Lackey (7ip, 2ER), Lester (6IP, 1ER), Quintana (6IP, 0ER), and Hendricks (6.2IP, 2ER) have each turned in solid to brilliant pitching performances, positioning the Cubs to have both good pitching and good hitting for the first time all season.
In other news, tonight, Tim Duncan wrote in the Players’ Tribune a plea to assist his native US Virgin Islands, which has been decimated by Hurricane Irma. Though Duncan himself has no known personal connection to the Cubs, he is a large part of the Spurs’ selflessness revered and emphasized by Theo, and this selflessness is noteworthy in part because it extends beyond the court, because he understands that being a member of the sporting community (as we all are) is a full-time job that extends beyond the mechanical task of playing or watching a game.
When you become a sports fan, you enter into this peculiar world that instantly connects you to thousands of other people with whom you proceed to share life experiences. Knowing there are others feeling as euphoric as you do following an important victory (like winning the 2016 World Series) and undergoing the same emptiness post-devastating loss provides a certain level of comfort. You are not alone. There is always a network of people who understand how you feel and are eager to help you rise above your despair.
Though the precise degree of the connectedness Tim Duncan the basketball player has to Cubs fans is difficult to discern and largely out of our hands, Tim Duncan the human being’s connection is under our control, and there would be no greater display of the selflessness Theo wishes to instill in the organization than Cubs fans answering Tim Duncan’s call. Please donate to the US Virgin Islands’ Relief Fund.
And to close this out with something a little more fun, the Brewers at some point in the game crafted this:
So looks like the Brewers worked on Javier Baez doll in the dugout earlier pic.twitter.com/3oyb2fFLrS
— ⓂarcusD (@_MarcusD2_) September 9, 2017
Yes, it is a Javier Baez doll. Yes, it is incredibly terrifying, both for its accuracy and inaccuracy. No, I do not know why Javy decided to do that to his hair. But I really hope the Brewers have begun a trend. Baseball is a silly game in which grown men in pajamas use sticks to hack at a ball made of string, and the more frequently players embrace this silliness, the better for all of us.
Top Play (WPA): Jon Jay walked to lead off the eighth inning, but Bryant, Rizzo, and Zobrist were retired in succession to end the potential scoring threat. (+.078)
Bottom Play (WPA): Ryan Braun deposited into the stands a Lackey fastball that stayed elevated in the zone, giving the Brewers a 2-0 lead. (-.128)
Lead photo courtesy Jim Young—USA Today Sports