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Cubs Walk Off; Brewers lose Broxton, Nieuwenhuis

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Worst game of the season?

Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

This game started off great for our local nine. Solo home runs in the 2nd inning by Orlando Arcia (4) and 4th inning by local hero Ryan Braun (28) gave the Brewers a 2-0 lead. Unfortunately the Cubs would tie it back up in the 5th inning, when starter Chase Anderson allowed a lead off single to Chris Coghlan followed by a two run homer to Albert Almora (3). Besides that, Anderson was pretty solid today, pitching 6.0 innings while allowing five hits and those two runs with three walks and three strikeouts. His ERA now sits at 4.47 on the season, putting him firmly in the “solid back end starter category.”

The game remained tied until the seventh, when Andrew Susac lead off with a single and Scooter Gennett clubbed a two run home run with one out (13) to make it a 4-2 ballgame. Jacob Barnes, Brent Suter, Jhan Marinez, and Corey Knebel combined to pitch a scoreless seventh and eighth inning. After Tyler Thornburg threw 33 pitches yesterday in a four out save, he was unavailable and Craig Counsell elected to bring in Carlos Torres, who has been a steady presence throughout the season.

Torres went on to blow the save. He started by allowing a double to Wilson Contreras (who took an unfortunate hit earlier in the game) and an RBI single to Chris Coghlan to make it 4-3. A brutal error by Chris Carter allowed Tommy La Stella to reach base and move Coghlan to second, and then Torres plunked Munenori Kawasaki to load the bases. Addison Russell hit an infield single to tie the game at 4 apiece. Torres then was able to get Matt Szczur on a soft liner to shallow center and Javier Baez to send the game to extra innings.

Aroldis Chapman (4-1) struck out the side in the top of the 10th naturally, sporting a 103 mile an hour fastball and 89 mile an hour changeup while retiring Jake Elmore, Ryan Braun, and Chris Carter in order. Blaine Boyer (2-4) came out in the bottom of the 10th for Milwaukee and quickly served up a walk off home run to Miguel Montero (7). The sell-out crowd then started to sing the Go Cubs Go song to celebrate the club’s division title, wrapped up last night when the Cardinals lost. Gag.

To add injury to insult, the Brewers lost two center fielders today, possibly for the rest of the season. JP already told us about Keon Broxton’s fractured wrist after crashing into the wall in center field, an injury that effectively ended his strong rookie campaign. Broxton’s incredible second half resurgence brought his season-long line to .242/.354/.430 with 9 home runs and 23 steals (109 wRC+) in 244 plate appearances along with terrific center field defense. That’s like, 20 home runs and 40+ steals over a full season of at-bats. That’s what I call a starting center fielder folks, and I have to imagine that the job will be Keon’s going into 2017 and will remain his as long as he can sustain something close to his outstanding production from his first extended opportunity in the big leagues. Replicating a .373 BABIP might be tough, though, no matter how much hard contact one makes (although that 43.7% hard contact rate from this season is a little absurd).

Kirk Nieuwenhuis came in to replace Broxton in center field, and after striking out once in two plate appearances he left the game in the bottom of the 7th with a abdominal strain. A typical recovery time from that can span somewhere in the range of 4+ weeks, which would pretty much end Captain Kirk’s first season in Milwaukee, as well. Nieuwenhuis wound up being a valuable part of the roster after coming over via waiver claim last winter, batting .210/.325/.386 with 13 long balls and 8 steals in 121 games (90 wRC+). He was a steady and versatile presence on defense while playing all three outfield spots at various times this year. The Brewers will have to make a decision on whether to tender him a contract in his first run through arbitration this offseason.

Domingo Santana finished the game in center field, though the organization has been hesitant to play him defensively in center field this year. That will probably mean a call-up for the Brewers, who do have open spots on the 40 man roster. Likely candidates include Michael Reed, Kyle Wren, and Lewis Brinson. I’ll take a shot in the dark and say it’ll be Reed, simply because he’s already on the 40 man (unlike Wren, who’d likely then need to be DFA’d after the season) and the club is unlikely to be too concerned about his service time (unlike Brinson).

The Brewers (66-82) continue their series in Chicago (94-53) tomorrow at 3:05 PM CST when Zach Davies (10-7) faces off against Jake Arrieta (17-6), who currently has a higher ERA (2.91) than Junior Guerra (2.81).

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs