What You Need to Know
Kyle Schwarber hit a home run and Felix Pena pitched a scoreless inning, but the Cubs lost anyway.
Mike Montgomery lasted only 2+ innings. Montgomery had some serious control issues in the first. In the inning, he allowed a runner to reach on a dropped third strike, he walked two, and wore out Alex Avila with myriad balls in the dirt. After a perfect second, he ran into serious trouble in the third, walking another two batters and eventually loading the bases with nobody out. Travis Shaw’s death blow wasn’t exactly scorched, just a ground ball down the line that snuck under Rizzo’s glove. Then, in a move that simultaneously looked like a win-at-all-costs and wave-the-white-flag move, Joe Maddon pulled Montgomery with no outs in the third and replaced him with Justin Grimm.
Grimm did not have a good outing. The sequence looked like this:
- Sacrifice Fly
- Fly Out
At the end of it, the Brewers had an 8-0 lead, which would eventually become a 15-0 lead.
Meanwhile, the Cubs didn’t get their first baserunner until fourth, and they’d only get six hits, one of which belonged to Rob Zastryzny. Chase Anderson, who had only allowed two baserunners and struck out five, was pulled after the fifth inning because the game had been over for three innings and the Brewers couldn’t risk him pulling a hamstring during his home run trot in his next at bat.
The Cubs have been outscored in this series 17-2 so far, but this is still their division to lose. If the Brewers (or Cardinals!) win the division, it won’t be because they were the better team, it’ll be because the Cubs got their foot stuck in a bucket and then stepped on rake with their bucketfoot. Which they could do; they did it the entire first half after all. Despite that, Fangraphs hasn’t had the Cubs lower than a 53 percent chance to win the division all year even when they were trailing by a five and a half games. Coming into today, the PECOTA projections gave them 81 percent chance to finish first in the NL Central, and Fangraphs is more bullish, giving them a 90 percent chance. They still have a three-game lead, which they could extend back to four tomorrow. Of course, they could lose tomorrow and only have a two-game lead, at which point it will be time to panic.
This is a lot of rationalization to say not to pay too much attention to a couple of games. The Cubs have room to screw up a little bit. Of course, it would be better if they didn’t screw up.
Don’t screw up, Cubs.
Top WPA Play
When you decided to switch off the game and enjoy the last bit of sunshine we’ll get before an endless winter descends upon us.
Bottom WPA Play
Travis Shaw’s double in the third. (-.140)
Lead photo courtesy Dennis Wierzbicki—USA Today Sports