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Recap: Cardinals 7, Cubs 4

Players of the Game
  1. Matt Carpenter: Three-run home run, walk and a .559 wOBA for the game
  2. Anthony Rizzo: Four total bases, walk and a .748 wOBA
  3. Tyler Lyons: Struck out nearly a third of the batters he faced (seven of 22) and 22.7 K-BB%
Plays of the Game by WPA
  1. Matt Carpenter homered, scoring Kolten Wong and Peter Bourjos scored. (+.320)
  2. Mark Reynolds doubled, scoring Yadier Molina (+.207)
  3. Yadier Molina grounded into a double play (-.144)
Notes:
  • It sure didn’t feel like it, but Lyons finished with a 1.27 FIP and 1.89 xFIP. It’s the best audition for the fifth rotation spot so far.
  • For being one of the top managers in the game, Joe Maddon made some headscratchers last night. First was his decision to play the infield in on Yadier Molina’s at-bat in the second inning with a runner on third. That run was likely going to score that inning — run expectancy was 1.05 — so why give the Cardinals a chance at scoring more by increasing Molina’s chance of reaching?
  • When Matt Carpenter stepped to the plate in the sixth with the bases loaded and the Cardinals up by a run, we figured surely that Maddon would opt for a LOOGy. After all, the Cubs have three. But he left Edwin Jackson in to further scorching.
  • The infield grounder that Jason Heyward singled on in the seventh inning very easily could’ve been ruled an error. The note on Rule 10.12 says that: “The official scorer shall charge an error to a fielder who causes another fielder to misplay a ball—for example, by knocking the ball out of the other fielder’s glove. On such a play, when the official scorer charges an error to the interfering fielder, the official scorer shall not charge an error to the fielder with whom the other fielder interfered.” That rule is typically invoked for outfielders who collide, but Starlin Castro effectively prevented Addison Russell from making the play by crossing onto the second-base side of the base and doing a pirouette. With Heyward struggling, it’s probably just as well the scorer ruled it a base hit.
  • The one official error that the Cubs did get charged with was tougher but still warranted, in our opinion. Kris Bryant did a fine job to stop Jhonny Peralta‘s smash. But as he moved to throw the ball to second, he lost the handle. He did well to gather the ball in the first place, sure, but that’s why they call it the hot corner. Cubs fans — and media personnel — needn’t worry about the play dampening the prospect’s rookie of the year campaign.
  • Maddon wasn’t the only manager who confounded. With the bases loaded in the eighth and the go-ahead run at the plate in Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs’ best hitter, Mike Matheny fell asleep at the wheel. It’s the highest-leverage play of the game — 3.21 li — and your pitcher is … Miguel Socolovich. We understand if it’s the 17th inning, but at this point Matheny has at least two better options: Randy Choate and Trevor Rosenthal. Why not use them?
  • If you don’t have enough confidence in Choate there to dispatch a lefty — which is solely what he’s on the team for — perhaps he shouldn’t be on the team.
  • And Rosenthal ended up pitching a meaningless ninth inning, anyway. Our postgame press conference question would’ve been: If not for the save statistic, would you have managed differently that game?
  • A couple of questionable baserunning plays from the Cardinals, who early on are one of baseball’s worst baserunning teams: Jon Jay tried to tag and score on a popup to shortstop Starlin Castro in shallow centerfield in the first. It wasn’t completely foolish given Castro’s occasional flakiness. But it’s the first inning, and Jhonny Peralta is on deck and the pitcher isn’t exactly Fergie Jenkins. The second was just as questionable, even if more successful: Jason Heyward raced from first to third on Yadier’s seventh-inning groundout. The play thrilled the fans, but it wasn’t wise with two outs. And yes, we know that Heyward scored on the next play, an infield single. That doesn’t make it right.
  • This Robb Nen save business is getting silly. Rosenthal is now seventh among the team’s relievers in game leverage index (1.49). And he has nine saves. We remember when saves used to mean something.

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