With yesterday’s comeback win, the Chicago Cubs moved back to a few games over .500, and though it may not feel that way, only three teams in the NL have a better winning percentage than the Cubs’ .565 mark (Nationals – .667, Rockies – .640, Diamondbacks – .577).
As noted in the EBS, the Cubs still struggled with the “early hole” thing and the “no hits with runners in scoring position” thing, but six of their ten hits went for extra bases, and they drew three walks against just six strikeouts. If you slug a bit and don’t strike out too much more than you walk, then you will often find yourself in games even where you’re giving up runs and even where the clutch hit seems elusive.
Speaking of which, there was at least one “clutch” hit in the game, when Kyle Schwarber floated a single into center field to give the Cubs a lead in the 7th inning, which they would not relinquish. That hit improved the Cubs’ win expectancy by more than 15 percentage points. The only bigger hit in the game by that measure was Miguel Montero’s game-tying homer in the sixth inning.
For his part, the slumping Schwarber feels like a hit like that – an 0-2 blooper against a lefty – can propel him forward (ESPN). He came up with two outs and the bases loaded the next inning, and, although he didn’t get a hit, he did hit a fly ball 317 feet at 92.9mph to the opposite field. That’s good contact, if nothing else.
That win at Fenway Park was the first time the Red Sox had lost a day game at home all season, and they certainly didn’t help themselves against the Cubs, committing four errors on the day.
Of course, three of those errors happened on the same play, as artfully noted by the Cubs’ Twitter account:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 29, 2017
John Lackey gave up a few runs early – though none in the first inning! – and then settled in for a relatively standard six-inning outing. He didn’t love some of the calls at the plate, though, and he shared his thoughts with the home plate umpire, as he does. Sahadev Sharma had a good line about that one:
Lackey having a chat w/ ump after getting Betts to ground out. Just a friendly guy who wants to get to know the man calling the game is all
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) April 29, 2017
After Lackey, the Cubs got three shutout innings from they three guys you’d most likely call the current 7-8-9 guys (even as I’d caution that there really aren’t set 7-8 guys right now, given the fact that everyone else in the bullpen can and will swing into those innings when needed). Koji Uehara finished off his clean inning in a return to Fenway Park, and then went on one of his high five rampages, which I absolutely love:
high fives all around. pic.twitter.com/J7wu7Csg12
— ⓂarcusD (@_MarcusD2_) April 29, 2017
Did you see Joe Maddon’s “ow”? Or when Willson Contreras – who else? – clearly tried to give Koji a Koji-style five right back? And then he smacks an unaware Ben Zobrist at the end? I am in love.
Hector Rondon came in for the 8th inning, and pitched his scoreless frame with the help of a double play. This picture actually came from an attempted double play the batter previous, but it just looks so good that I’m going to imagine this is the one that ended the inning:
Then closer Wade Davis came in to shut the door. He gave up an infield single, but otherwise struck out the side in EXTREMELY Wade Davis fashion, hitting 97mph with his fastball, and throwing a disgusting 93mph cutter that you are simply not going to hit:
Wade Davis closes it out for the Cubs with a filthy 93-mph cutter. https://t.co/WckNOkVtAd
— Matt Clapp (@TheBlogfines) April 29, 2017
So much late movement.
Davis has now pitched 10.1 innings for the Cubs, and has yet to give up an earned run. His strikeout rate is 32.4% and his walk rate is just 5.4%. So much for any Spring Training concerns, eh?