Ricky Romero tossed seven innings of two-run ball against the Braves last night, but got stuck with a loss because the Blue Jays were shut out by Tim Hudson and Craig Kimbrel, managing just two singles and one walk while striking out 11 times.
Pitching well and getting zero run support has been the story of the season for Romero, who has a 6-7 record despite a 2.98 ERA, .230 opponents’ batting average, and 91/36 K/BB ratio in 103 innings spread over 15 starts.
In his seven losses the lineup has scored a total of 13 runs and his frustration finally boiled over last night, as Romero called out the offense:
All I can do is just pitch. I can’t worry about the offence and what they do. I’ve always said this at one point we can’t rely on Bautista, we can’t rely on Lind. We’ve got to get somebody else to step up and get on base and drive them in. These guys are getting pitched around. Everyone’s got to step it up or else we’re not going to be winning ballgames. This team doesn’t revolve around one or two guys. Everyone’s got to put in their parts. That’s how we win ballgames.
Everyone knows. I’m sure those guys are not trying to get out. They’re all trying. I’m not singling anyone out or anything like that. We’re all trying. At one point we have to do the small things and we have to continue to get on base. Like I said, those guys are going to get pitched around, so hopefuly we’ll be able to do that.
I sympathize with Romero, particularly since pitchers are still evaluated based on their win-loss records far too often and he deserves much better than 6-7. On the other hand, as he even points out it’s not as if the Blue Jays’ hitters are trying to do poorly and I’m not sure how calling them out publicly will help matters anyway.
Plus, the lineup has actually provided plenty of run support to everyone but Romero, scoring an average of 3.5 runs per game in his starts compared to 4.9 runs per game in everyone else’s starts. Overall the Blue Jays rank fourth among AL teams in runs, so offense hasn’t been the problem. Offense when their best pitcher is on the mound has been the issue and that’s more about randomness and matchups than effort or ability.
After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.
The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).
Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.
With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.
Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.
With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder:
So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).
Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.