Stars of the Game – Anthony Rizzo, .253 WPA, David DeJesus, .239 WPA
Rally! Down 3-1 heading into the bottom of the Seventh, I’m sure many were concerned that the Cubs’ general offensive ineffectiveness would continue. But, right after Fergie Jenkins implored the Cubs to get some runs, Castro knocked in Steve Clevenger on an RBI groundout before Rizzo tied it up on a double to right field that also was his first hit against a left handed pitcher this season. Then, in the bottom of the ninth, pinch hitter Scott Hairston knocked in Nate Schierholtz on a sacrifice fly to take a 4-3 lead, before David DeJesus added some insurance for new closer Kyuji Fujikawa with a two run double.
The Bullpen Was Good in a Game We Won! So far, our solid bullpen performances have been limited to games we’ve been down in, although that was largely due to bad performances by Carlos Marmol in the Cubs’ two prior wins. Not tonight, though, as Rule 5 pick Hector Rondon, Marmol (who suddenly has been able to locate his slider a bit since being removed from the closer’s role), and new closer Kyuji Fujikawa combined for 2.2 scoreless innings.
Sacrificing is Still Stupid- Wellington Castillo has been the Cubs’ best hitter so far this season. But after Nate Schierholtz’s double to lead off the bottom of the eighth, Dale Sveum sent Castillo up to bunt Schierholtz, a good runner, over to third. Everything worked out for the Cubs in the end, but in spite of the Cubs giving up an out, not because of it.
Another Solid Performance by Travis Wood- Wood put up another solid line in the elements tonight, going 6.1 innings while giving up only 2 earned runs to go with seven hits, seven strikeouts and three walks. Although one of those earned runs should probably have been unearned and one of those hits should have been an error, as a poor throw by Starlin Castro in the second inning pulled Rizzo off the bag on a grounder by Yuniesky Betancourt that was somehow ruled a hit. I’ll guess that the whomever made that call just felt sorry for Yuniesky Betancourt having to go through life being Yuniesky Betancourt.
While the walks were a bit higher than you’d like, Wood struck out a lot of hitters and really was fantastic from the third inning on (no runs, 1 walk, 2 hits, 3 Ks in his final 4.1 innings). Also, despite the fact that the wind and cold was not exactly conducive to hitting, Wood never gave up a hit that would have been a home run but for said weather.
Rough Second Inning for Castro- Starlin Castro had a rough defensive second inning, making two bad throws. The first was the one that pulled Rizzo off the bag, and the second was a bad throw home to try to nail Jean Segura (by the way, I’d love to have Jean Segura on the Cubs) a couple of batters later. I’d chalk this up to the bad weather, especially considering the awful throw Alex Gonzalez made from third base to second a couple in the bottom of the fifth that led to the Cubs’ first run, but there was an aspect of bad decision making in both instances. In both cases, Castro had a lot more time than he thought to make the throws, but rushed them. He made a couple nice defensive plays later, particularly a very good diving stop and strong throw to get the last out in the eighth to prevent what would have provided the leading run for the Brewers from scoring, but at some point you’d like to see the decision making stop being a problem. Valbuena also had a throwing error in the top of the ninth.