For four innings, both Brandon Woodruff and Alec Mills looked unhittable.
Both took no-hitters into the 5th inning — and neither ended up with a quality start.
The Brewers’ early-inning offensive woes continued Friday night — both teams actually started the game 9 up, 9 down — but Milwaukee was actually able to score first for a change. Sure, they made 2 outs in the process when Ben Gamel turned 1st-and-3rd with no outs in the top of the 5th into a run-scoring double play, but a lead is a lead for the Brewers.
Unfortunately, it didn’t last long, as Woodruff hit a brick wall in the bottom half of the 5th. Jason Heyward broke up Woodruff’s no-hit bid with a one-out single, and then the next five batters also reached to chase him from the game.
It wasn’t as sudden as that sentence might make it sound — it was an excruciating 30-pitch stretch, including a 9-pitch at-bat against Jason Kipnis that saw Woodruff unable to put the veteran away in a two-strike count, with seven foul balls before Kipnis drove in the game-tying run with an RBI single.
.@TheJK_Kid gets the @Cubs on the board!— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) August 15, 2020
Cubs 3, Brewers 1 - Top 6 pic.twitter.com/Y44pNedMDz
From there, Woodruff walked Nico Hoerner and Ian Happ on 3-2 counts, the latter forcing in the go-ahead run. A bloop RBI single by Anthony Rizzo on a pitch that wasn’t even a strike meant Woodruff would be chased before he could even finish 5 innings.
Luckily, Bullpen Freddy was at his best. Coming in with the bases loaded, Peralta didn’t give Javy Baez a fastball in the zone, instead using one up and in and two nasty sliders to strike him out. Another strikeout with a slider against Kyle Schwarber got the Brewers out of the inning down just 3-1.
That long offensive inning for the Cubs may have ended up hurting Mills, who had been cruising to that point. Eric Sogard led off the top of the 6th with a single he practically hit off the ground, and a HBP to Keston Hiura meant Christian Yelich would come up with 2 on and nobody out — and the momentum would suddenly shift.
Home run No. 5 for Christian Yelich is a go-ahead, three-run shot. pic.twitter.com/pYlSLhkOVe— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) August 15, 2020
Mills’ hanging changeup was crushed for a 3-run home run that gave the Brewers a 4-3 lead just minutes after an agonizing inning that felt like another negative turning point in what’s been a frustrating week.
Instead, it spurred an electric run by the Brewers’ middle relief corps. Peralta came back out in the 6th inning and struck out 2 more batters, then struck out the first batter of the 7th for good measure. He ended his night recording 6 outs — 5 of them strikeouts, with 13 swinging strikes.
Freddy Peralta, Filthy Breaking Balls. pic.twitter.com/P0rklwqoDM— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 15, 2020
Devin Williams followed with a similarly dominant effort, getting the final 2 outs of the 7th inning and starting the 8th by striking out Baez before Kyle Schwarber “doubled” off Gamel’s open glove in right field to put the tying run in scoring position. Williams rebounded by getting Contreras to strike out on a filthy changeup, paving the way for Josh Hader to go for his first four-out save of the year.
Devin Williams, Unfair 85mph Changeup (release). pic.twitter.com/iAJPmu6gVX— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 15, 2020
It, well, was not easy. Completely unable to locate his slider and barely able to locate his fastball, Hader ended up loading the bases in the 8th — walking Steven Souza, Jr. after getting him into an 0-2 count and hitting David Bote on the foot with a 3-2 slider — before tightroping out of trouble by stiking out Josh Phegley to end the 8th.
Instead of going to David Phelps for the 9th inning, Craig Counsell elected to stick with Hader in the 9th. It again was not easy. Nico Hoerner started the inning with a hard-hit lineout to left field before Hader was able to get Ian Happ to strike out looking. A two-out walk to Anthony Rizzo once again put the tying run on, but Hader was able to find his slider just in time to freeze Baez for the game-ending strikeout.
Josh Hader, Filthy 78mph Back Door Slider. pic.twitter.com/UpVtG1PS9k— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 15, 2020
In all, it was a game that felt like two separate games. Either way, the Brewers were able to snap their skid with a 4-3 win.
The Cubs have lost twice at Wrigley Field this year, and both have come against the Brewers. Milwaukee will try to ensure at least a split tomorrow in what is now an afternoon game due to impending storms in Chicago Saturday night. First pitch is scheduled for 2:20 p.m. CDT. Adrian Houser will get the start for the Brewers. The Cubs’ starter is TBD after Mills moved up a day with Tyler Chatwood being scratched tonight.