Brewers Starting Pitcher: Matt Garza
Opponent Starting Pitcher: Kyle Hendricks
Winning Pitcher: Michael Blazek
Losing Pitcher: Jason Motte
HR: Miguel Montero (4), Martin Maldonado (2), Elian Herrera (2)
The Cubs scored first in this one but it took them 5.2 innings to do it. With two outs in the sixth inning Matt Garza gave up a first pitch home run to Miguel Montero. It was just one bad pitch in what ended up being a really well pitched game by Garza that was right down the middle of the plate giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead.
Tragedy was averted two innings later when Martin Maldonado took Garza off the hook with a lead off solo shot of his own to tie the game in the seventh inning. Then Elian Herrera followed that blast up with his one of own. Back-to-back jacks gave the Brewers a 2-0 lead and put Garza in a position to earn a W, but unfortunately he would end up with a no-decision.
In the eighth inning with a runner at first Will Smith came in to face Anthony Rizzo. The match-up theoretically should have favored the Brewers but in this instance Rizzo (who does hold his own well enough vs LHP because he's an absolute beast) came out on top. He drove the ball to right field and even though Braun got the ball in quickly enough to Gennett, and he in turn got it to Maldonado in time, the catcher ended up dropping the ball before he could make the tag. It would have been three outs had he not dropped the ball because the runner wasn't very close to home when the ball got to him.
Francisco Rodriguez kept the game tied with 2 strikeouts and a ground out all in order in the ninth inning. He only needed 10 pitches. Personally I think he could have gone out for a second inning (he hadn't pitched since Wed so we know he was as fresh as could be). The Brewers pitcher was going to need to lead off the next inning so it seemed to make extra sense to me.
Instead Counsell sent Jeremy Jeffress to the mound. I'm not saying it was the wrong move. I'm not sure it was and results don't always defend or condemn process. Fortunately the results were good. Jeffress did allow a lead off hit but then got the next batter to strike out. What followed was very likely the most unlikely of all double plays. David Ross was the runner at first. Dexter Fowler batting, hit a grounder to short. Herrera gobbled it up and threw to second. Gennett secured the out there but was unable to get a good throw to first base in time. However the second base umpired called interference on David Ross which capped off the double play.
Honestly it was a pretty suspect ruling. I assume the umpire said the slide was late and Ross intentionally raised his arm to cause the interference. It was far from the most egregious instance of such a thing but hey, I'll take it.
Last year when the Brewers signed Zach Duke I thought for sure it was a mistake. This year when they put Michael Blazek on the Opening Day roster I thought there was a chance it would backfire. So far it seems like I'm going to be equally wrong about Blazek as I was about Duke. He retired the Cubs in order including two strike outs, one of which made Anthony Rizzo look silly.
It was the eleventh inning but it felt like the eleventh hour. If you want to make the comparison to the Doomsday clock then it really was the eleventh hour for the Cubs. With Jason Motte on the mound Ryan Braun led off the inning with a double to right center. The Cubs opted to walk Adam Lind giving Khris Davis two runners. To this point Khris Davis was 0-3 with a walk. He would end the day 0-4 with a walk but his long fly out did advance Braun to third. Joe Maddon would again call for the intentional walk, this time to Jean Segura. Martin Maldonado stepped to the plate with bases loaded, one out, and a five man infield in front of him. With Braun at third a medium depth fly out would have been enough to win the game. Instead Maldonado just chose to hit a sharp line drive single to right field. Brewers won.
The final score was 3-2 giving the Brewers a series win. Their season record now stands at 11-21.
Notable Managerial Move
Ron Roenicke loved to have defined roles in the bullpen. He always wanted an "8th inning guy" regardless the match-up. It's one of the few legitimate issues I had with him. In the 8th inning of this game Craig Counsell gave Jonathan Broxton the first crack at things but pulled him to play the match-up. After two outs with Anthony Rizzo coming to the plate the manager gave the ball to Will Smith. Strategically it was an intelligent move. It ended up not working this time as Rizzo tied the game on a double but that doesn't mean the process was wrong. It was very much right and we should hope the result here doesn't discourage Counsell from further intelligent moves.
Outstanding Offensive Play
Bill Hall became something of a folk hero on past Mother's Days with his walk off home runs. Today it was Martin Maldonado that would send the Brewers home in exciting fashion. And none too soon as the Brewers bullpen was getting pretty thin.
Outstanding Defensive Play
Mean Jean the Jean Genie saved a run for the Brewers in the bottom of the third inning. Matt Garza had runners at the corners with 2 outs and Miguel Montero at the plate. Montero hit a sharp grounder between second and third base. It looked like a surefire RBI single but Segura ranged to his right and stopped the ball with a dive. Then, without hardly even getting to his knees, he was able to turn and make a strong throw to second to secure the force out to end the inning.
Outstanding Pitching Performance
Coming into this game Matt Garza had thrown three straight quality starts (6 IP 3 R, 6.2 IP 2 R, 6 IP 3 R). Today made that 4 in a row as this was easily his best start of the season. He threw 7 innings allowing just 1 run on the home run from Montero. Outside of that he was nearly unhittable allowing only 3 total hits and strucking out 9 batters. He did walk three batters though. Garza even got a hit earlier in the game.
Those nine strikeouts match a high for him as a member of the Brewers.
Monday May 11, 6:20 pm CST: Wily Peralta vs Jeff Samarkdljaksdzjfkaka