I could start with so many things here, but I feel like starting with CRAIG KIMBREL, because it was such a big moment. With a two-run lead and one out in the 8th, David Ross went to Dan Winkler to bridge to the 9th inning. Not an unreasonable move all things considered, but Winkler came out throwing nothing but balls, and walked the bases loaded. Three batter minimum and all that. So Ross got Kimbrel warm in a hurry, and then asked him to come out to a bases-loaded situation and get out of it.
Naturally, Kimbrel struck out the two guys he faced. Guy is so back:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 8, 2021
Kimbrel also came back to finish things off 1-2-3 in the 9th, his second save of the year, but his fourth excellent appearance.
Before Winkler, Rex Brothers was given real, true, tradition setup time, and he pitched extremely well. Looked really good in the process, too. Just sayin’
If you looked at the 4th inning in isolation, you’d be super annoyed that the Pirates got a couple runs off of Jake Arrieta. Two nothing bloop singles, a sac fly, and a ground ball that got through. That was it, and two runs. But the thing is, Arrieta had been on a tightrope the first three innings, and had also been hit hard plenty in those innings, fortunate to allow no runs in the process. So, as I watched, it just felt like one of those cosmic balance innings. And then sure enough, Arrieta was giving up rockets again the next inning (no runs), so like I said. I wasn’t gonna be too annoyed.
So all in all, it was a fine outing for Arrieta, whose line definitely looks better than he pitched (especially given the rough Pirates lineup), but he did execute in some tight spots, and didn’t implode. He’s a veteran who didn’t have his best command today. That’s kinda how you HOPE it goes in that situation.
One bit that was odd about that 4th inning, by the way: Jason Heyward was not prepared for a tag up to second base on a deep fly ball (he’s usually uber prepared), and then did not charge a base hit to make a play at the plate with a very slow runner (he’s usually aggressive and has a huge arm). Neither play looked terrible, and if they (1) hadn’t been together in the same inning and (2) had been any other player but Heyward, you probably don’t even notice. But for him, they just seemed a little off.
Offensively, the Cubs actually racked up a bunch of hits today, though they didn’t convert many of them into runs. That required the dongs: