The Brewers wrapped up their first home stand of the season in disappointing fashion Sunday, falling to the Cubs 7-4 and delighting a highly-partisan sold out crowd comprised mostly of visiting fans eager to help fund Milwaukee’s rebuild.
The Cubs got to Zach Davies early and often, as nine of the first 12 Cub batters reached base to give the visitors a 5-0 lead in the second. Chicago batted around in the first, if you subscribe to the incorrect definition of batting around. Kyle Schwarber led off both the first and second innings with hits, the latter a solo shot to center.
Davies would settle down after the tumultuous start, as he and Carlos Torres combined to retire 16 of the next 18 batters, with Kris Bryant accounting for both exceptions. Milwaukee was unable to capitalize on the quiet stretch from Chicago’s offense, however, as they too were limited to just a pair of base runners after the third inning, both of whom were Domingo Santana.
Milwaukee managed just four hits against the stout Cubs pitching staff, but two of them were homers. The first was a two-out, three-run dong from Ryan Braun in the third inning which made the score 5-3.
The Brewers entered the game with a hideous, league-leading 30.7% strikeout rate, and they were victimized yet again, this time by Cubs starter Jake Arrieta. The 2015 National League Cy Young winner struck out 10 over seven innings, with his only blemish the three-run homer from Braun. In all 13 Brewers were set down on strikes this afternoon, led by another three-strikeout game from Jonathan Villar, who leads the league with 15 Ks and a ghastly 48.3% strikeout rate.
Milwaukee’s defense was ugly yet again, as they committed another pair of errors and allowed a couple of infield base hits of questionable merit. The miscues led to an insurance run in the seventh when Addison Russell scored after reaching and advancing to second on the throwing error from Jonathan Villar.
The exception to the poor defensive effort was literally any time Jason Heyward was batting, as the Brewers robbed him of what should have been a five-hit day with a trio of outstanding defensive efforts. The first was a diving catch by Braun that certainly saved a couple of runs in the second inning. The second came in the fifth, when Villar ranged to his right to take away a single in the hole. The third came in the ninth, when Keon Broxton crashed into the wall in dead center to take away a two-run homer.
For the second straight game, Milwaukee altered the final score with a meaningless home run in the bottom of the ninth. Sunday’s belonged to Domingo Santana, who pounded a middle-in fastball over the Brewers bullpen to pull the Cubs within three with two outs in the ninth.
While the run didn’t affect the game, the at-bat was an outstanding one. Santana fought back from an 0-2 hole to run the count full, eventually taking advantage of Hector Rondon’s mistake on the ninth pitch of the at bat. It was an encouraging appearance for Santana, who entered the at bat 1-for-17 on the young season.
On Deck: The Brewers will have their first off day Monday before heading to Toronto for their first interleague series of the season, a two-game set against the Blue Jays. Tuesday’s matchup will be WIly Peralta against J.A. Happ, who is the cousin of Badger basketball star Ethan and preposterously believes its okay to pronounce J.A. “Jay.”