Coming into Wednesday afternoon’s series finale against the Cubs, Aaron Ashby was the story.
Once the game started, it looked like he would be the story for a completely different reason.
Then he ended up absolutely not being the story of this game.
Ashby struggled mightily in his Major League debut, couldn’t make it out of the first inning, ended up getting charged for 7 runs (4 earned, thanks to an error) and wound up with a no-decision as the Brewers provided one of the biggest examples of Picking A Pitcher Up you will ever see by scoring 15 unanswered runs to complete a sweep of the Cubs in one of the most humiliating ways imaginable.
We just have to bring back the WPA graph for a special guest appearance here, because it is honestly a sight to behold.
Ashby threw 39 painful pitches in the first inning, with his big league career starting with back-to-back singles and a walk to load the bases with nobody out as he fought his command. A mound visit didn’t stop Javier Baez from coming up with a 2-RBI single. Then, Willy Adames let a grounder from Jake Marisnick get under his glove as he appeared to try to angle himself for a possible double play. Eric Sogard added to the misery with a bunt single to bring home a 4th run. A wild pitch brought in a 5th. He then walked the pitcher, Jake Arrieta, and then walked Willson Contreras to end his day.
A broken-bat single by Patrick Wisdom off of Miguel Sanchez ballooned the Cubs’ first inning lead to 7-0, and it looked like this would be one of those games Craig Counsell would punt to save his pitching staff.
Luckily for the Brewers, Arrieta struggled just as much.
The Brewers loaded the bases against him in the bottom half of the first inning, in what was the first sign this could be a long afternoon for pitchers. The Brewers only got one run out of the inning — a bases-loaded walk by Jace Peterson — but they made the past-his-prime veteran throw 32 stressful pitches in the first frame.
With Sanchez stabilizing the pitching, the Brewers went back to building their rally in the 2nd inning. Luis Urias connected on a two-run home run to cut the deficit to a suddenly-manageable 7-3.
It would have been a successful inning just based on that, but the Brewers didn’t stop there.
Adames made up for his earlier error by extending the bottom of the 2nd with a 2-out walk. An Omar Narvaez single put him at third base, and then came the play that may have swung the momentum in the Brewers’ favor for good — Tyrone Taylor hit a dribbler in front of the mound, but Arrieta rushed the throw, nearly getting Wisdom killed at first base in the process as Taylor crashed into his shoulder and outstretched glove arm. The ball, understandably, got past Wisdom and allowed two runs to score, cutting the deficit to 7-5.
That would ultimately chase Arrieta from the game, and reliver Keegan Thompson allowed two more hits in the inning — including a Keston Hiura RBI infield single line drive off of Sogard at third base to cut the Cubs lead to just 7-6 — before finally ending the frame.
The Brewers would take the lead — and then some — in the bottom of the 4th. Adames once again got the rally started, this time with a leadoff walk against Rex Brothers. Taylor and Peterson followed with back-to-back doubles, the second of which scored two runs to put the Brewers ahead, 8-7.
Tommy Nance replaced Brothers, but only continued the nightmare for David Ross and the Cubs. He immediately hit Hiura with a pitch and surrendered an RBI single to Jackie Bradley, Jr., making the score 9-7. Nance then walked the pitcher, Trevor Richards, before hitting another batter in Urias to force in a 10th run.
Then Adames, who started the rally that inning, delivered the death blow — a grand slam that caused half of American Family Field to lose their collective minds and the other half to head to the exits early.
Just in case a 14-7 lead and 14 unanswered runs wasn’t enough, Urias belted his second home run of the day in the bottom of the 6th, a solo shot that made the score 15-7 and left Josh Hader bewildered in the bullpen.
In the three-game demolition of the Cubs, the Brewers not only end the first half of their season with a 6-game lead in the NL Central, but they also put together their most prolific offensive series in nearly a decade, scoring 31 runs in 3 days. Per Tom Haudricourt, they haven’t done that since 2012.
Heading into today, teams that had a 7-run lead at any point in a game were 234-1.
The Brewers have now won 8 straight games and are pretty fun to watch right now. They have a chance to make this stretch even more memorable with 4 games coming up in Pittsburgh for 4th of July weekend.