This week has been the first full week of everyone back at school/starting new programs/adjusting to new childcare/etc. To say that it has been hectic would be an understatement. I have a vague memory of exhaling, and I look forward to seeing once again what that feels like.
- Since this is the play that decided last night’s game, and thus received the bulk of the attention, let me put it before you before we discuss:
- Some of my thoughts at the time:
– In the 8th inning of a one-run game, you really should always see Albert Almora Jr. in the game. If it was a matter of switching Happ for Almora, or pulling Kyle Schwarber and moving Happ over, make it so. But when the games really, really matter, I don’t think it will be acceptable to see the Cubs losing a one-run lead because they hadn’t optimized the outfield defense in the final two innings.
– Does it matter on that play? We can’t know for sure, but given how close Happ got to catching the ball and how good Almora is at going back to his right, I’m thinking Almora probably catches that one. If he does, the Cubs are a Wade Davis inning away from winning the game.
– I saw folks asking why Happ was playing so shallow, but that one’s a no-brainer for me: with two outs and the tying and leading runs on third and second, you want to cut down any single you can (you care about that FAR more than risking turning a single into a double or triple). You also want to give yourself a small chance to throw out a runner at home if there is a shallow single to center. Given that Jose Peraza has an .069 ISO, you have all the more reason to play him extremely shallow. Unfortunately, he simply got a pitch up in the zone and hammered it.
- OK, and now we get Joe Maddon’s explanation for no defensive switches there (ESPN): “It’s a one-run lead. If they tie it I want the lefties up against [Reds closer Raisel] Iglesias.” In other words, Maddon didn’t want to lose either Happ or Schwarber from the lineup in case the game was tied. Given Iglesias’s extraordinary splits, I do agree that having lefties available to face him is an extremely important consideration. But the Cubs still had two lefties on the bench at the time, and Schwarber and Happ weren’t due up in the 9th inning until 5th and 8th in the inning. Usually, I agree with Maddon in these situations, but on this one, I just don’t see it. Almora should have been in that game, and I very much hope that’s not a mistake that is repeated in a more critical moment.
- Jon Jay is getting a lot of grief for his attempted steal in the 9th inning, which, down two runs, did seem bizarre. But when you consider that the batter, Alex Avila, was a huge double play target, and the fact that the Reds weren’t even holding Jay, I can see why he thought it was a free base worth taking. Oops. He goofed, but I understand the thought process.
- It was also a bummer that Rene Rivera was thrown out at second base on this double play, which required a review:
- A better slide, and he’s probably safe. Ben Zobrist doubled right after that. Dang.
- As usual, there are a dozen things you could point to about “why the Cubs lost” that one, and we’ve hit on only a few. The team scored just two runs against a very beatable Reds staff in an offense-friendly park. That’s a big one, too.
- In any case, Maddon was spot on, as usual, about one thing after the game (ESPN): “If you carry this with you until tomorrow, then it can be that game [that carries over]. If you drop it in the waste can it can’t be that game.” The loss doesn’t have to be anything more than a game that was lost.
- It’s Players Weekend – for real this time! – which means the Cubs will wearing their unique gear (which you can check out here at the MLB Shop):
- More on the players’ nicknames here, and the tribute patches they’ll be wearing.
- Kris Bryant will be wearing very special, bad-ass-lookin’ cleats, too:
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) August 25, 2017
- Good Deals of the Day at Amazon today, including a Ninja, the entire ‘Battlestar Galactica’ series, and a portable cooler.