By the time Kris Bryant lined out to shortstop to give the Reds their second out of the 9th inning, leading 5-2, the Cubs’ win expectancy had shrunk to just 4.2%. With but one out left, even with two runners on base, the overwhelming majority of the time, that game ends in a loss – thus, the low chances of victory.
That wasn’t even the lowest mark for the Cubs in the game – the Reds had put the leadoff hitter on base in the 8th inning, and that took their win expectancy up to a whopping 97.7%.
A Cubs comeback in this one was even more unlikely than either of the wins against the Brewers this week: the lowest the Cubs’ chances of winning those games got was 9.0% on Wednesday, and 7.5% on Tuesday. Wonder how unlikely it is to come back THREE times from odds like that? A little fun with multiplication says the chances of winning all three games from each of those low points is about 0.0155%, or about one in 6500.
If you doubted the Cubs in those games, then, at least you were being mathematically rational.
Last night’s felt the furthest away from a plausible comeback, not only because it was, but also because the Cubs squandered so many opportunities earlier in the game. They could have chipped away at the Reds’ lead with an easy run here or there – a medium depth fly ball a couple times would have scored a couple runs – but failed to do so each time until the 9th and then the 11th.
But Anthony Rizzo erased those innings of failure with one swing in the 9th, and Kris Bryant managed to muscle an 11th inning 0-2 pitch just far enough to finally push across one of those runner-on-third-less-than-two-outs runs:
As we saw last night, that Rizzo homer was a bullet without a ton of loft, but plenty of heat to reach the seats. And, having hit many times in Great American Ballpark, Rizzo knew that one was gone right off the bat (and, in fact, because it went out at 389 feet to the power alley in right, it would have left 23 other ballparks in baseball, too, even if it looked like a close one).
I was nearly as impressed by the run the scored in the 11th inning – not just Bryant’s ability to get enough of a pitch he essentially missed, but Albert Almora Jr.’s decision to tag on it. Without the ability to get set under the ball, Adam Duvall was going to have to throw off-balance, even though it was not a very deep fly ball. Almora read the situation, and reacted. It was reminiscent, in that respect, of a certain other Bryant fly ball that led to a surprising tag up by Almora.
It was definitely a risky play, and we’ve seen the Cubs burned by those in the past. A reasonable throw gets Almora with ease. But, in that situation, where a run could very well end the game, I’m down with taking the coin flip chance (or slightly better, given Duvall’s unset feet) on the run, even with Rizzo standing on deck, waiting for his chance to create The Anthony Rizzo Game.
What a great, improbable win that one was. And the team knew it:
The Cubs clubhouse is loud right now. Really loud
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) April 22, 2017
World championship or no, these guys aren’t sleepwalking through the 2017 season. You don’t win three games like they did this week without still having that “we never quit,” fighting, passionate spirit.
This is going to be a week we remember for the rest of the season, and I have had a blast, even as it’s been something of an exhausting roller coaster.
… now maybe just go ahead and start out with a huge lead today and win it from there, eh, Cubs?