WP - Eric Yardley (1-0)
LP - Jason Adam (0-1)
SV - Josh Hader (5)
HR - MIL: Keston Hiura (5), Orlando Arcia (1)
The Chicago Cubs came into the weekend one of two teams in Major League Baseball that had not yet lost a series.
The Brewers — more specifically, Luis Urias and Orlando Arcia — decided to change that.
Urias and Arcia combined to go 6-for-8 with 5 runs scored in the bottom two spots in the order as the Brewers came back from another first inning deficit to beat the Cubs on Sunday afternoon, 6-5.
Things, once again, did not look great early. Josh Lindblom struggled in the first inning, though much of it was not of his own doing. Getting noticeably squeezed, Lindblom issued back-to-back walks to Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras before giving up an RBI single to Kyle Schwarber. He very nearly got out of the inning with that being the only damage, but an 0-2 fastball to Steven Souza, Jr. that was very clearly in the strike zone was called a ball, and two pitches later Souza ripped a 2-RBI double down the left field line, and the Brewers found themselves trailing 3-0 after the first inning.
Luckily, Lindblom settled down from there, pitching very effectively from the 2nd inning through the 5th, racking up 8 strikeouts on the afternoon before his day would end after putting two men on to start the 6th inning.
In between, the Brewers’ bats again struggled early against Jon Lester, who came into the afternoon allowing just 2 earned runs over 17 innings to start the year. Lester retired the first 7 batters in a row before Urias and Arcia came up with back-to-back singles in the 3rd inning.
Those first two hits were big ones, as they set things up for Keston Hiura, who snapped an 0-for-14 slump with a 3-run home run to tie the game.
The bottom of the order would come up big again in their next time up in the top of the 5th, with Urias collecting his first extra-base hit on the year with a leadoff triple into the right field corner. Then Arcia, the ultimate Cub Killer, followed by crushing a 2-run homer to left to give the Brewers a 5-3 lead.
Lindblom would respond by striking out the side in the bottom half of the inning, including getting Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo swinging. Things started to go awry in the bottom of the 6th, though, as Lindblom hit Contreras and walked Schwarber, causing Craig Counsell to go to Eric Yardley to try to get out of the 2-on, no-out jam.
The sidearmer seemed to have trouble controlling his breaking pitches, but was at least effectively wild in getting Souza to strike out. He would hit Ian Happ with a pitch, though, loading the bases. Yardley was able to strike out David Bote, but the first ball put into play by the Cubs in the inning ended up being costly, as Jason Kipnis singled with 2 outs to drive in 2 runs and tie the game at 5.
That easily could have been a gut punch that let the game spiral from there, but Arcia wasn’t about to let that happen.
He led off the top of the 7th by scalding a ball to center field that Happ misjudged, dove at, and missed, causing a leadoff triple.
Counsell’s decision to hit Ryan Braun leadoff today proved to work out, as he came up after that and laced a go-ahead RBI single on the first pitch he saw to give the Brewers the lead back.
That allowed Counsell to go to his “A Bullpen” for the final three innings. Devin Williams once again flashed his wicked changeup, coming back from a 2-0 count to strike out Bryant, then teaming up with Manny Pina to end the inning on a strike-em-out, throw-em-out — Pina’s second caught stealing of the game.
David Phelps struck out the side in the 8th, and then it was up to Josh Hader to try for his second save in 3 days, with just a single day off since laboring through 35 pitches on Friday night.
Hader appeared to struggle to put hitters away in the 9th, but was able to get Bote looking on a 3-2 slider that looked clearly inside, but the Brewers would likely take it after some of the calls that went against them earlier in the game. Javy Baez would then ground out to Hader (who very nearly blew the play, with Baez being called safe at first before the ruling was overturned upon review), and Nico Hoerner would force Hader to grind through a 13-pitch at-bat before lining out to Avisail Garcia in center to end the game.
It was another game this weekend that wasn’t easy, but games against the Cubs rarely are, and the Brewers will leave Chicago taking 3 of 4 to get back to .500. It’s also worth noting the league gifted the Cubs with 7 home games in their 10 against the Brewers during the shortened schedule. Those 7 games are now done, and the Brewers ended up taking 4 of those 7. The Brewers are also the only team to beat the Cubs at Wrigley Field this year.
The Local Nine gets Monday off before heading off to Minnesota to play the Twins. Corbin Burnes will get the start Tuesday night at Target Field.