What You Need To Know: I was cranky as hell early in this game. So was most of Cubs Twitter. J.D. probably said it best when he called it a Murphy’s Law game early on. The Cubs were able to scratch across one run against Clayton Kershaw, but not a whole lot went right early on. The offense was listless, José Quintana was missing spots and faced a ton of traffic on the basepaths. Then Kershaw’s pitch limit came up, and the Cubs were able to get to the Dodger bullpen in blowing things open.
Albert Almora cracked a monster solo shot off of Walker Buehler, and an Addison Russell sacrifice fly scored Willson Contreras to tie the game. The Cubs then tagged Buehler and Erik Goeddel for nine combined runs, highlighted by a bases-clearing double from Anthony Rizzo and a two-run shot from Addison Russell. Javy Báez added another run with an RBI single in the eighth.
While Quintana had a wonky start, with a lot of high-stress pitches, once again the bullpen was nails. Steve Cishek threw 1 2/3 scoreless, while Luke Farrell tossed a scoreless eighth before surrendering two in the ninth. Brandon Morrow came on to get the final out, his first work since coming out off the disabled list. He allowed a hit to Max Muncy before recording the final out.
Next Level: Quintana didn’t have the outing that we were hoping for, especially matching up against Kershaw. He threw 5 1/3 innings, surrendering three earned in the process. He gave up a lot of flyball contact, including a homer to Muncy, while walking three. The low point came when he walked Kershaw on four pitches. Nonetheless, he did enough to hold things together before the Cubs exploded offensively. He missed a lot, though, as indicated by the trio of walks and seven hits surrendered. It was an uninspiring start overall.
For as hard as we’ve been on Addison Russell (for his on-field performance specifically) this year, he had a really nice series here. He had a three-hit night on Tuesday and added another pair of hits on Thursday. He singled in Báez against Kershaw and added the two-run shot, in addition to the sac fly. While the power hasn’t quite been there (.114 ISO), his slash includes a .284 average and .355 on-base after Thursday. FanGraphs has him at a wRC+ of 105 for the year.
Anthony Rizzo needed a strong outing on Thursday, as well, after going 1-for-10 in the first three games of the series. The day off did him some good, as he finished 4-for-5, with a pair of doubles and three runs knocked in. Given the result, we can forgive him for getting thrown out trying to stretch one of those singles into a double early in the game.
Top WPA Play: In the Cubs’ big seventh inning, Jason Heyward put them up with a double to right-center field, scoring Ian Happ and moving Kyle Schwarber to third (+.198).
Bottom WPA Play: Quintana failed to bunt and instead grounded into a double play with Kyle Schwarber on first and no outs (-.087).
Up Next: The Cubs will head home for a weekend set with the Minnesota Twins. They’ll bookend the series with two of their most reliable starters, with Mike Montgomery going on Friday and Jon Lester on Sunday. Tyler Chatwood will be sandwiched in between the two, as he returns from the paternity list to start on Saturday. The Twins have had a rough go after a playoff appearance last year, currently sitting under .500 and well back of Cleveland in the division. They’ve lost their last two series, against Texas and the White Sox, heading into the weekend tilt.
Lead photo courtesy Richard Mackson—USA Today Sports