The Cubs looked to build on a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds Friday against the first-place Milwaukee Brewers. Rain made conditions sloppy at Wrigley Field, which was an unfortunate metaphor for the home team.
Eddie Butler ran into immediate control problems in the 1st inning, eventually walking the bases loaded with two outs. Unlike his first outing in St. Louis, Butler didn’t get away with his early wildness. Catcher Jett Bandy (I’ve done the research, that really is his name) grounded a single up the middle to give Milwaukee a 2-0 lead.
The Brewers returned the favor in the 3rd inning, when centerfielder Keon Broxton dropped a routine Javy Baez fly ball for a two-base error. Jon Jay made it hurt, doubling to right to cut the lead in half.
It was then that the rain started to fall, eventually becoming a factor.
Anthony Rizzo, Ian Happ, and Ben Zobrist singled to load the bases off rookie starter Paolo Espino in the 4th, and Willson Contreras singled to put the Cubs ahead 3-2. Then, inexplicably, Baez popped out on a bunt attempt with none down. The inning quickly fizzled after that.
Mike Montgomery, who replaced Butler in the 4th, ran into trouble in the 5th inning. A double and two more walks (the Cubs walked 10 total) loaded the bases for the Brewers. A perfectly placed infield single by Orlando Arcia tied the game at 3-3. Montgomery then walked pinch-hitter Jesus Aguilar to force in the go-ahead run.
Pierce Johnson made his MLB debut amidst a downpour in the 6th inning. Eric Thames singled and then Jonathan Villar hit a pop fly to left field. The wind, now blowing with gale force, pushed the ball towards the infield. Left fielder Kyle Schwarber got a read on it and attempted to make a catch near shortstop, but failed. An underhanded throw to get a force-out at 2nd base went wide and runners ended up on second and third.
The umpires mercifully called for a rain delay at this point. Why the inning was even allowed to start in the unplayable conditions at the time is hard to say.
Two hours later the game resumed with Johnson back on the hill. Domingo Santana promptly singled to extend the Brew Crew lead to 6-3.
The Cubs never really threatened after that, meekly going down to a 6-3 defeat.
Stats That Matter
- Willson Contreras was 1-for-3 and provided the only significant offense for the Cubs. It felt like the rest of that inning was an opportunity lost for Chicago.
- Eddie Butler struggled mightily with control in his short start: 3 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 3 K, 5 BB. He has the stuff to be a quality starter, but missing the zone is the hurdle he has to overcome.
- Pierce Johnson didn’t get much help from the defense in his debut: 1 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 H, 2 K, 1 BB. As with Butler, the stuff makes him an intriguing option in the pen but the control could be an issue.
Wrigley Field was a mess today as was the team that calls it home. This game was frustrating with the delay, the walks, and the defensive misplays. After the sweep of the Reds the hope was Cubs could go on a roll. Friday’s loss threw literal and metaphorical cold water on those hopes.
The Cubs will look to bounce back against Milwaukee Saturday at 1:20 CT. Jake Arrieta matches up with Chase Anderson on CSN Chicago. The forecast calls for rain again so prepare for delays.