I’ve gone to this metaphor before. There’s a term when you’re playing the horses. You find a horse. You like a couple angles. Maybe it’s a couple “karma” changes–turf to dirt, change in distance, etc.–, or there’s a jockey/trainer combo you like. Whatever it is, you keep talking yourself into it because the horse is a good price. But when you come to decision time, maybe it’s the speed figures, maybe it’s previous finishes, maybe it’s something else, and you come to the conclusion that this horse will run just well enough to break your heart. He’s “short.”
I don’t know that the Cubs are “short” overall. It does start to feel like that, because there have been too many games where they’ve been “short.” Too many games where they couldn’t get the run home from third. Too many games where an overall effective reliever had a bad day. Too many games where a starter couldn’t find the out. Too many games where they didn’t make the play.
Let’s get to the point. We could spend far too much time to claim we have enriching lives discussing whether or not Albert Almora gets to Jose Peraza’s liner/fly to center. Sure seemed like it was up there a long time. I don’t know why Maddon hadn’t switched Almora out to center for Happ. Maybe he thinks Happ is good out there (he’s not). Maybe he sees the metrics suggest Almora isn’t all that good out there (could be). Maybe he just fell asleep after Happ made the last out in the top of the 8th. I don’t know.
Here’s your problem:
You know Peraza is looking for something down the middle. And just so you know, in that part of the zone on fastballs Peraza is slugging .500. Inside and high is where he wants it. This pitch is just too good in a situation to a hitter who’s going to swing at most things.
And Strop has been really good for a while. But we keep saying that some reliever is having a really good stretch before they cough it up. So here we go again.
Then again, maybe this isn’t a problem if Arrieta could go as long as his first three innings suggested he would. 5-2/3rds isn’t quite good enough, even if you give up just an unearned run. Duensing got out of it though.
That doesn’t mean wave the white flag on the season. Most of the team could get hot at once for three weeks. Maybe those plays they can’t make now get made just because. Maybe they get more bounces like they did on Sunday. It just feels like that’s what we’re going to count on instead of just hope for.
-Then again, they did make the play to cut down Cozart at the plate in the 6th, which felt like the kind of play that means you’re going to win the game. The kind of play they made all the time last year. So they’re capable of both.
Two of three isn’t disaster. But at some point you have to break through the wall from acceptable or good enough to spectacular. We’re still waiting.