WP: Brad Brach (4-3)
LP: Zach Davies (8-4)
HR: CHC - Kyle Schwarber 2 (23, 24), Victor Caratini (5); MIL - None
The short and simple recap of this game: walks and home runs killed Zach Davies.
The right-hander turned in his second straight rough start, fighting his command for much of the afternoon, allowing 7 runs in 5 innings despite allowing only 4 hits. It would be his 3 walks that came back to haunt him, though, as all 3 ended up scoring on Kyle Schwarber home runs.
After a quick and efficient 10-pitch first inning, Davies gave up back-to-back solid singles to Javier Baez and Jason Heyward before walking Ian Happ to load the bases for Schwarber. Davies delivered a high fastball on his first pitch to the slugger, which was promptly crushed for the third-longest home run in Miller Park in the Statcast era, making it 4-0 Cubs early.
Statcast says Schwarber's slam sailed a projected 473 feet, making it the longest home run at Miller Park this season and the third-longest since the tracking service started in 2015.— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) July 28, 2019
479' Marcell Ozuna (4/3/18)
474' Ryan Braun (5/25/15)
473' Kyle Schwarber (7/28/19)
Davies would settle down after that, but again ran into trouble against that bottom half of the batting order in the 4th inning. A rare walk to Baez and another walk to Happ set up another opportunity for Schwarber, who seemed to throw his bat at a ball pretty well outside of the strike zone. Unfortunately for the Brewers, a 90-degree day combined with this year’s ball led to Schwarber’s fly ball carrying into the bullpen for a 3-run home run, making it 7-0 and giving Schwarber a new career high for RBI.
The Brewers would briefly make a rally in the bottom of the 5th, finally getting to Jose Quintana by loading the bases with nobody out thanks to walks by Yasmani Grandal and Orlando Arcia sandwiched around a Jesus Aguilar single. Tyler Saladino didn’t have another grand slam in him, striking out on a nasty curveball by Quintana in a full count, but Manny Pina came through with a pinch-hit single and Lorenzo Cain followed with a sac fly to make the score 7-2. Christian Yelich would drop an opposite field RBI double down the left field line to make the score 7-3 and chase Quintana from the game before he could finish the 5th.
That would be as close as the Brewers would get, though, as Brad Brach got Ryan Braun to ground out to end the inning, and another play involving Schwarber ended up pushing the game out of reach.
Jeremy Jeffress came on in relief of Davies in the 6th inning, and after getting two quick strikeouts of Baez and Heyward, another walk to Happ brought up Schwarber. Jeffress was able to get the big man to ground into the shift, but a mental error -- whether you want to blame Keston Hiura for taking too long to throw to first, or Jesus Aguilar for taking too long to get into position to take the throw -- allowed Schwarber to reach on an infield hit and continue the inning. That brought up pinch-hitter Victor Caratini, who promptly crushed a hanging curveball from Jeffress for a crippling 3-run home run that effectively decided the game.
Jay Jackson would pitch 2 scoreless innings with 5 strikeouts and Ryan Braun would drive in a run with an RBI double in the 8th inning, but Taylor Williams allowed a run on a fielders’ choice in the 9th and the Brewers went down quietly in the bottom half of the inning to end an 11-4 loss.
It’s an ugly way to close out the weekend, but the Brewers still took 2 of 3 from the rival Cubs and now lead the season series 5-4 before these two teams play again next weekend at Wrigley Field.
As of this writing, the Cardinals appear to be on their way to a loss against Houston, meaning the Cubs and Cardinals will be in a tie for first place heading into their series to start the next week. In the wildcard race, the Washington Nationals salvaged a game against the Dodgers on Sunday, keeping them in a virtual tie with the Cubs and Cardinals in the wildcard standings.
The Brewers will have Monday off while trailing the NL Central and a wildcard spot by 1 game. They’ll pick up play late on Tuesday night in Oakland, but it’s a fair question on how different the team will look by then. After the game, Craig Counsell said he doesn’t know who will pitch in Oakland, waiting to see whether a trade is made before the deadline and whether Gio Gonzalez will be able to make his next start. Adrian Houser is expected to pitch one of those three games.