This could have been the one where Kyle Hendricks displayed his historical brilliance or the one where Alfonso Rivas fell apart. But this was a team effort and everyone involved in the game contributed in one way or another. This was just clean fun.

After four straight losses and only scoring nine runs in the first four games against the Pirates this year, this had to feel good. Unfortunately, a lopsided win doesn’t fix anything bigger and doesn’t erase previous losses. The best hope is that some success and fun will have some carryover effect for at least some of the players. Otherwise, the only lasting effect is the early distortion this can have on a full barrel of stats, including the expected log (which relies heavily on run differential).

It would be easy to say evade today and say that everything about yesterday’s game was what I liked and overlook all three things. But I try to extract something from humiliating losses, so I also have to do it with beating an opponent.

Alfonso hit his first MLB home run last September, but right now this game accounts for half of his major league home runs, more than half of his major league RBIs and more than a quarter of his hits. in the Major Leagues. He won’t forget this day any time soon.

The latter would be the former in almost any other circumstance. Hendricks seemed dominant. Look, I know it’s the Pirates. But there are two things about it. One, you can only beat the team in front of you and two, the Cubs hadn’t exactly been dishing them out in four previous games. Kyle dominated from start to finish and probably could have made at least one more inning if it was even remotely necessary. This was probably the most important performance in this game.

It flew under the radar a bit, but this was Kyle’s first victory since August 17 last year. Wins are a stat slowly going the way of the dinosaurs. But that doesn’t mean Kyle wasn’t going through one of the worst stretches of his career. In those 10 starts, Kyle went 0-3 with a 7.25 ERA (49⅔ innings). His FIP of 4.96 indicates that although things were a bit inflated, things were quite difficult. That limit is also arbitrary. He pitched well on Aug. 17 in the win, allowing three hits and one run at Cincinnati (a place that hasn’t been kind to him in general). But the start before that was a disaster, possibly the worst of his career. He allowed nine earned runs in four innings against the Brewers. I will continue to hope that the trades have been tough on Kyle and not that his considerable skills are being eroded.

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I could pick anyone else for my third point, but I have to pick Nico Hoerner. With four hits, he is on a .327/.340/.469 line (wRC + 133). This was his first four-hit game in the Major Leagues. They were all single, but they go well with the three he had the day before. That was only his seventh three-hit game, so seven hits in two days is obviously his personal best as well. Consequently, the eight of his for three consecutive days is also the best. Nico is basically in uncharted waters right now.

This was a treat. Of course, an unbalanced game isn’t necessarily the most interesting box of heroes and goats. But I had to make an executive decision. Three players tied at .000, which was Kid’s spot in this one. I feel sorry for Michael Hermosillo, to whom I have given the position directly. I don’t know if he contributed more or less than Sean Newcomb or Scott Effross, the other two guys who entered the game late. None of the three are there because of anything they did or didn’t do, but rather because the game was essentially decided before they entered. The only two negative scores are the guys who made early outs while the game was getting out of control.

With that, let’s get to the numbers.

Game 15, April 23: Cubs 21, Pirates 0 (7-8)

Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.


  • Super Hero: Willson Contreras (.137). 3-5, BB, 2B, 3RBI, 3R, K
  • Hero: Seiya Suzuki (.119). 3-4, 2B, RBI, 3R, SB
  • Buddy: Kyle Hendricks (.109). 7IP (23 batters), 2H, 2K (W 1-1)


  • The Billy Goat: Jason Heyward (-.072). 2-5, HBP, 2B, RBI, 3R, PD
  • Goat: Patrick Wisdom (-.003). 1-4, 2BB, RBI, 2R, K
  • Little boy: Miguel Hermosillo (.000). 1-2, D
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WPA play of the game: With one out in the second inning, the Cubs led 1-0 and had runners on first and third when Seiya Suzuki jumped to the plate against Zach Thompson. Seiya singled, adding the second run and sending the third to third. (.082)

*Pirates Play of the Game: With two outs and the bases loaded in the first inning, Jason Heyward batted off Thompson. The game was goalless at the time. Heyward appeared, ending the threat or it could have been unbalanced even faster. (.060) The highest WPA event for the Pirates’ offense was Daniel Vogelbach’s fourth-inning double (.005).


Who was the Cubs’ Player of the Game?

  • one%

    Willson Contreras

    (2 votes)

  • 43%

    Kyle Hendricks

    (44 votes)

  • 48%

    Alfonso Rivas (3-6, HR, 5RBI, R)

    (49 votes)

  • one%

    Anyone else (leave a suggestion below)

    (2 votes)

101 total votes

vote now

Rizzo Award Cumulative Ranking: (top 3/bottom 3)

The award is named after Anthony Rizzo, who finished first in this category three of the first four years it was in existence and four times overall. He also posted the highest season total in history at +65.5. The point scale is from three points for a superhero to negative three points for a billy goat.

  • Ian Happ +10
  • Seiya Suzuki +9.5
  • Keegan Thompson +8
  • Ethan Roberts/Nick Madrigal -6
  • jason heyward-9

Until next time: The fourth and final game of the series between these two teams. It will also be the last day of this stay at home and the last of 13 straight games without a day off. The Cubs hope to improve their record to 3-4 in this stay at home, thus matching the season record at home at 5-5. They are 5-7 so far in this block of 13 games.

The Cubs will send Justin Steele (1-1, 4.50) to the mound. Justin is coming off his worst start to the year. In that one, he was charged with four runs in less than three innings against the Rays. He will seek to return to normal in this case.

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