Last weekend, the Brewers were an absurd offensive outburst by Kyle Schwarber away from possibly sweeping the Cubs. Just a week later, the Brewers themselves were swept, easily and convincingly, at Wrigley Field. The final blow came Sunday, and this time it wasn’t a show of brute force that did them in -- it was a display of ruthlessly efficient fundamental hitting as Chicago racked up 14 hits en route to a 7-2 win.
There was reason for hope early for the Brewers, with Trent Grisham leading off the game with his first career hit. While he would be erased on a double play hit by Yasmani Grandal, it would be the first hit in a big day for the team’s latest prospect call-up.
The Grandal double play was deflating, but Christian Yelich followed it up with an opposite-field home run off of Yu Darvish to give the Brewers a 1-0 lead.
The good feelings didn’t last long.
Jason Heyward tied the game with a home run on the first pitch Adrian Houser threw. The Cubs would end up loading the bases on a pair of singles and a walk, but Houser would escape the inning without any more damage thanks to a strikeout of Victor Caratini, and Anthony Rizzo getting thrown out trying to score on a pitch that got away from Grandal.
The Cubs’ deep lineup kept grinding away at Houser in the second inning, with a little luck dabbled in. David Bote reached on a one-out infield single before eventually coming around to score on a Jason Heyward triple down the right field line on an inside pitch that wasn’t even a strike. Heyward scored on the next at-bat, when a ball hit by Nicholas Castellanos got under the glove of Travis Shaw.
Houser was able to rebound after that, retiring 8 straight before giving up a tape measure home run to Schwarber in the top of the 5th inning to give the Cubs a 4-1 lead.
Meanwhile, Darvish used his wide array of pitches to keep the Brewers off balance all afternoon, racking up 8 strikeouts over 5 innings. The Brewers threatened Darvish in that 5th and final inning, with Travis Shaw picking up his first hit since returning to the majors and Grisham collecting his second hit of the day. In between those at-bats, though Houser was unable to get a bunt down and ended up striking out, and Grandal struck out to end the inning.
Derek Holland and Tyler Chatwood worked in relief after that, largely keeping the Brewers in check outside of Grisham hitting his first career home run in the 8th inning.
That’s in stark contrast to the relievers the Brewers used this afternoon, with Jeremy Jeffress giving up a run in his 5th straight outing, this time on an RBI groundout in the 6th inning. Alex Claudio would give up two more runs in the 7th inning.
The Brewers tried to put together a mild rally in the 9th inning in Chatwood’s third inning of work, as Mike Moustakas led off the inning with a single and Shaw picked up his second hit of the afternoon, but Keston Hiura popped out on the first pitch of his pinch-hit AB to secure the sweep.
It’s the first time the Brewers have been swept at Wrigley since a four-game sweep from April 26-29 last year. It’s also the first time since June 17-19 that the Brewers have been swept by anyone.
The Brewers now sit at 57-56 after a 1-5 start to their three-city, three-timezone road trip. They’ll play in Pittsburgh tomorrow night against the last-place Pirates. They’re now 4 games back in the NL Central race and will be either 2 or 3 games back in the wildcard race, pending the result of Washington’s game in Arizona this afternoon.