WP: Pedro Strop (2-0); LP: Jacob Barnes (0-1); Save: Brandon Morrow (1); Home runs: Chi - Kris Bryant (1); Mil - Eric Thames (3)
The Milwaukee Brewers (5-4) fought tooth and nail for 8 1⁄3 innings this afternoon at Miller Park against the Chicago Cubs (4-4) and then melted down totally, gift wrapping a 5-2 loss to their division rivals.
The Brewers had grabbed a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Lorenzo Cain, and brought Jacob Barnes in for their first closing opportunity since Corey Knebel’s injury. Barnes retired Tommy La Stella on a pop-up with one pitch, and induced a roller to a shifted Travis Shaw from Victor Caratini - not the speediest guy on the team - and Shaw was coming in for a play that may or may not have gotten him at first.
Shaw was moving towards first, but Orlando Arcia cut in front of him and made an off-balance throw to first as he ran towards the third base line. The throw bounced a few feet in front of Eric Thames at first and into the Brewers’ dugout, sending Caratini to second.
Jason Heyward walked on several close pitches that went the Cubs’ way, putting two on with one down. Then Javy Baez hit the ball to Travis Shaw at third, and his error on an attempted force play loaded the bases. With the bases loaded Ben Zobrist pulled a ball to first baseman Eric Thames. Barnes was late covering, Zobrist was safe, and it was tied up at two. Ian Happ broke out of an 0 for 4 day (three strikeouts) with a bloop single to left to plate two and put the Cubs up 4-2. Cain’s throw went to third, allowing Happ to take second.
Milwaukee intentionally walked Kris Bryant to load the bases, and with the Cubs out of position players Jon Lester was sent up to pinch hit. His squeeze bunt drove in the final Chicago run.
The Brewers scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth on their first hit, a lead-off home run by Thames. Two outs later, Domingo Santana grounded a single into left, but that was Milwaukee’s last hit until the bottom of the eighth.
Zach Davies started and pitched extremely well, going three no-hit innings until Bryant led off the Cubs’ half of the fourth with a single. Bryant was caught stealing, and Davies took the Brewers 1-0 lead into the top of the fifth.
La Stella singled leading off the top of that inning, and took third on a double by Caratini. Heyward’s soft grounder took Davies off the mound but he whirled and threw home to nip La Stella at the plate. Baez walked, loading ‘em up, but Davies struck out Cubs’ starter Yu Darvish and popped up Happ to end the inning scoreless.
Kris Bryant burst the bubble with a leadoff home run in the sixth to tie the game at one. Zach worked through the rest of the inning to finish his day. He ended up with six innings, four hits, three walks, and eight strikeouts, with the one (earned) run allowed.
Darvish, by the way, was very tough. He ended up going six innings with the two hits allowed, walking one and fanning nine, also allowing that one earned run.
Oliver Drake went 1 1⁄3 innings, allowing a leadoff walk but erasing that with a double play ball. Drake got the first out of the top of the eighth, and Jeremy Jeffress relieved to face Bryant. Bryant (who wasn’t retired all day) drove one to the warning track in deep center that Cain got to but couldn’t hold (the sun was brutal), and Bryant was rewarded with a triple. Dan Jennings relieved Jeffress and retired Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras, keeping things tied at one.
After Arcia struck out against Steve Cishek leading off the bottom of the eighth, Jett Bandy allowed an inside pitch to clip his sleeve, giving the Brewers their first base runner since the fourth. Eric Sogard pinch hit and drove a ball deep to right center that Heyward misplayed into a double, putting runners at second and third and setting the stage for Cain’s sacrifice fly.
The Brewers kicked away a possible win, but again the bats were largely silent. They totaled four hits on the day, and struck out twelve times. Yes, it was a very good starting pitcher - but this is major league baseball, and you will face good pitchers, and if you make the play-offs you will largely face only good pitchers.
For the series finale tomorrow, the Cubs will send lefty Jose Quintana (0-1, 9.00 ERA) to the mound while Milwaukee counters with Chase Anderson (0-0, 3.60), making his third start of the season. Game time is 1:10 pm, and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Wisconsin.