Kyle Hendricks is one thing — he has a long history of success, both against the Brewers and the league at large. But Tyler Chatwood? That’s a little tougher to swallow.
Chatwood took a no-hitter until 2 outs in the 5th inning and struck out 8, allowing just 3 hits and a run over 6 innings. It was more than enough for the Cubs to take the rubber match of the season’s first series, using a surge from the bottom of the order to send the Brewers to a 9-1 loss.
To be fair, Chatwood’s stuff looked impressive Sunday afternoon, and he largely avoided the control issues that have plagued him to this point in his career, limiting the potential others have seen in his stuff over the years. He also got some help from time to time behind the plate.
Yelich wasn't pleased with this strike three call by Tumpane and you can see why. pic.twitter.com/QsNo9fyUQi— Tom (@Haudricourt) July 26, 2020
On the other end, Freddy Peralta looked relatively solid through the first three innings, using his new slider/slurve to keep Cubs hitters off balance and only allowing an RBI groundout through the first few innings.
The 4th is where the wheels came off, though, more or less deciding the game early.
Peralta started that inning with a leadoff walk to Kyle Schwarber, then badly missed his spot on a fastball to Willson Contreras, who crushed it into the right-centerfield gap, scoring Schwarber from first on a weak throw by Ben Gamel. A walk to Heyward left Peralta at 66 pitches without recording an out in the 4th, and Craig Counsell went to Corey Knebel as his “first closer” to get out of the mess.
Unfortunately, Knebel lacked a putaway pitch against the Cubs’ strong lineup. Despite getting multiple two-strike counts, Knebel couldn’t seem to get the third one when he needed it, giving up consecutive RBI singles to Nico Hoerner, Victor Caratini and Ian Happ. Knebel was finally able to strike out Kris Bryant for the first out of the inning, snapping a streak of 6 batters faced and 34 pitches without an out for Brewers pitching in the inning.
Knebel gave way to Eric Lauer, who proved to be one of the few bright spots for the Brewers this afternoon. He ended up getting out of the jam, striking out Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber to finally end the inning with the Cubs holding a 5-0 lead.
Lauer would end up facing 10 batters on the afternoon, recording 8 outs — 6 of which were strikeouts. That was enough to keep the Brewers within range of the Cubs for the middle innings, although the Crew was only able to muster the one run in the top of the 5th on a bloop RBI single by Orlando Arcia. The Cub Killer had another chance to do some damage his next time up with two runners on, but ended up hitting a hard liner into an inning-ending double play instead.
Unfortunately, Bobby Wahl and Justin Grimm weren’t able to replicate Lauer’s success in keeping the Cubs off the board. Wahl gave up a solo home run to Willson Contreras in the bottom of the 7th to push the Chicago lead to 6-1, while Grimm gave up a two-run blast to Happ, and then another solo homer to Rizzo two batters later in the 8th. Once Wahl gave up the home run, this started to feel like one of those games Craig Counsell tends to punt.
Old friend Jeremy Jeffress got to pitch the 9th for the Cubs and issued a walk and gave up a loud flyout against the ivy to Logan Morrison, but was able to preserve the Cubs’ 9-1 lead to end the game.
Chicago’s going to be as tough as anyone in a 60-game stretch, folks.
The Brewers are now off to Pittsburgh for three games against the Pirates. Adrian Houser is scheduled to start the first game against lefty Steven Brault. The lefty on the mound will likely mean a few lineup changes for Counsell and the Brewers. First pitch is at 6:05 p.m. CDT Monday night.