OK. I have to ask. It’s my job. Don’t yell at me.
… is there *any* part of you that’s a little excited to see the drama in this series amp up a bit because of last night’s Giants win? Like, even if it’s a part of you that the rest of you wants to slap silly. I keep hearing that part of me whispering things like, “God, playoff baseball is so exciting isn’t it? This is great” and “that loss will make a win tonight all the more satisfying”. I tell him to shut up and leave me alone, and the people at this Starbucks keep giving me funny looks.
I’m not actually at a Starbucks, but I wanted to type a thing. I also had an entirely different intro to this post lined up in my head earlier this morning, but now it’s just gone. Lots of travel + newborn + two other kiddos + game until after 3am this morning = a barely-passable Bullets intro.
- I sketched out my emotional/fan reaction to last night’s extremely late loss (well, early-morning actually) earlier today, but these Bullets will look at the bit more of the mechanical stuff. It was one of those coin flip games, and it happened to break the Giants’ way. The Cubs missed some opportunities with runners on base, sure, it happens, but they also got the homers that the Giants didn’t. I don’t think there is as much to take away from the game as you might otherwise be inclined to put into it, given the heightened moment and general craziness of the game.
- Mike Montgomery, the second-to-last arm left in the bullpen last night, gave the Cubs four critical scoreless innings before finally succumbing to a couple doubles in the 13th inning. It was an incredible performance, and one that probably won’t be remembered as well or as long as it should, given the way it ended. Sure, he got some help from his defense, but he also worked in the zone, limited hard contact, and pitched well despite having to get up and down and up and down in the bullpen before entering the game.
- Also some plaudits for Jake Arrieta, who not only hit that three-run homer, but had maybe the best slider he’s had in months. No, the command wasn’t perfect, and he was missing spots with his fastball in unnerving ways by the middle innings, but overall, he was solid. He must not have had the feel for his changeup or curveball, though, as he threw them only three and seven times, respectively, netting just one whiff (and two of his three changeups went for hits). That’s obviously the nice things about having such a wide repertoire – you can still succeed when not having all of your pitches available.
- Giants manager Bruce Bochy called that one of the greatest games he’s been a part of (SFGate), which is quite a bit for a guy who’s managed three World Series winning teams.
- I don’t have a lot of concern about “momentum” or “let-down” or any of that stuff for the Cubs after last night’s loss. The team has too many veterans and level-headed youngsters, is too well-prepared, and too well-guided to fall into any of that. The only concern I’d have is that they’d be physically tired, but that will be equally true of the Giants (especially Buster Posey, who caught that entire game).
- Last night, I tweeted this in the moment:
Small samples abound, but I think Chapman's just gotta be a 9th inning guy from here on out. He's 3 for 3 in struggling in these types.
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) October 11, 2016
- And it might yet be true, but in this particular outing, the big blow came on the two-run Conor Gillaspie triple, after Chapman had come into the game with two on and K’d Hunter Pence. But that triple was hit on a 101 mph fastball at the top of the strike zone. It was very nearly a perfect pitch, on which Gillaspie guessed correctly and executed very well (the only way you do anything at all with that pitch – it’s probably a 1 in 50 proposition). I’m not really sure Chapman, in terms of his execution, did anything wrong to give up those two inherited runs. I’m also not sure I want to see him in anything other than a 9th-inning-or-later-with-a-lead situation the rest of these playoffs, though I know that might not actually be advisable or feasible.
- For his part, Chapman said after the game that he told Joe Maddon he would be available and ready for the 8th inning if the Cubs got into trouble (ESPN). As for whether Chapman should have just been called upon to start that inning in the first place, yeah, that’s probably what I would have preferred (mentioned it at the time, so this isn’t just hindsighting). But Travis Wood against a lefty is fine, and then letting Hector Rondon take the next righty in the 8th inning makes sense, too.
- It won’t be discussed too much, but Brandon Crawford struck out looking after the Gillaspie triple on three pitches … but that third strike was not called. He later singled, giving the Giants an extra run, which proved to be critical. To my eye, the zone was well-called last night overall, so I’m not going to complain about one missed call. (I am pointing it out, though, so you can complain if you want.)
- The Cubs unquestionably had some bad BABIP luck in that game – those two line drives RIGHT at the second baseman and shortstop to start the 11th inning were a real kick in the nuggets, and there were many more – but let’s not forget this whopper of bad BABIP luck for the Giants:
Hunter Pence fly out was hit 108 MPH at a 26 degree launch angle…. That's the first time that combination wasn't a HR. pic.twitter.com/ws0GRcOYeg
— Daren Willman (@darenw) October 11, 2016
- Pence basically hit that ball as well as you can, but thanks to the Giants’ wonky ballpark, it not only stayed in, but was a relatively easy catch. If it goes out, the game is tied at three in the third inning, and who knows where it goes from there.
- The series is now 2-1 Cubs, and their odds of winning fell from over 90% to 79% at FanGraphs and 83% at FiveThirtyEight. Still rather strong, and I think the Cubs have the match-up advantage tonight, with John Lackey facing Matt Moore. We will have more on the Giants starter later today.
- The Arizona Fall League begins today, and I’d love to give it a lot more attention, but, well, playoffs. The state of the big league team doesn’t change the level of my interest in or enjoyment of the AFL, but it does change the urgency with which we’ll get into it. The development of the Cubs’ youngsters in that league still matters a great deal, but when you’re triaging your #content focus, playoffs come first. Obviously.
- This was going to be a lot more enjoyable to look at when the Cubs were possibly about to win:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) October 11, 2016
- This link is to a search on Amazon for coffee. Because you should buy things on Amazon. My advertising pitches suffer the most when I’m tired.