What You Need To Know: They don’t all have to be Rembrandts.
The Cubs scored all five runs in the second inning, And really, the game was a microcosm of the whole season, and why most feel this team is good, even really good, but falling just short of the juggernaut/demon-fist it sometimes threatens to be.
In the second inning, they looked like they might just hit forever. Five runs, two homers, six hits, Schwarber, Happ, Rizzo, Russell, Zobrist, and Heyward all contributing. And then the offense went dormant, with only four hits the rest of the way, as everyone went back to their current slumber.
On the other side, Hendricks was dominant for the first three innings, had a big hiccup (maybe even a “burf”) in the fourth–though on this day it would have been hard for Walter Johnson to not give up at least three with the wind howling out–and then couldn’t quite finish six innings. This forced the pen to get the last 10 outs, which it was up to the task of. And that’s with Morrow hurt and Carl Edwards down for the day. Pedro Strop isn’t here for your worrying about coming back after his tough inning yesterday, as he mowed down the Padres in the ninth, capping it off with a K of Freddy Galvis.
Add it all up, and it’s a win, though it’s not a win that’s going to have you skipping down Clark. Much like this Cubs season has been good, and yet it also hasn’t caused a lot of skipping or strutting. Barely even a sauntering.
Next Level: Here’s the thing about the Cubs offense, which even though all the numbers say it’s really good (because it is) still leaves a good portion of the fanbase verklempt. Considering what it’s made up of with Bryant hurt, it’s always going to be inconsistent.
Look around. Ian Happ, second season. Albert Almora, second season. Kyle Schwarber has two and a half seasons in the majors, barely. Willson Contreras same. Javy Baez is really only in his third season. So without Bryant, and Rizzo merely being good instead of an MVP candidate, it’s just going to be up-and-down, sometimes even in the same game. That’s what young players do. And this team, even if it’s been a contender for four seasons now, is still ridiculously young.
– Would have been nice to get Hendricks through the sixth, but I didn’t have a problem with the pull in the sixth. Hendricks really should have been taken onto Kenmore by Hunter Renfroe for his last out, as he missed his spot with three straight pitches that ended up middle-middle. He got lucky. Clearly, this was noted by Maddon and Hickey and they went for the Daily Cishek, who got the Cubs out of it. Still, with Hendricks, it’s never more than an inch or two away from being a mystery again. And he’s also never more than an inch or two from turning into ooze. That’s why his starts always kind of look the same.
– Game ball probably goes to the pen today, which didn’t give up a hit or a walk for 10 outs. Cishek got four, Kinztler three, and Strop the last three. If Kinztler is going to be trustworthy, and Cishek’s arm isn’t dragging so much he can grab a hot dog from section 215 while standing on the mound, and Morrow returns they’ll have at least seven guys who can get outs from the pen come October. And considering where the starters have been, they may need all of them.
– Interesting choice to pinch-hit for Happ with Almora with the bases loaded in the seventh, considering AA has had all the pop of a popcorn fart the past three weeks. It went how you’d imagine.
It’s just going to be this way. Until Bryant is healthy, if he’s healthy, the Cubs can be anything from day to day. Strap in, it’s still going to work out.
Top WPA Play: Rizzo’s homer in the second that made it 4-0. (+.134)
Bottom WPA Play: Renfroe’s ground-rule double that started their fourth inning-rally. (-.117)
Lead photo courtesy Dennis Wierzbicki—USA Today Sports