After taking a 96 mph Brandon Woodruff sinker off the hand Tuesday night, Willson Contreras has been hit by three pitches in five games against the Brewers this season and has worn six pitches in the last 12 games (and seven in two seasons) against them. Tempers flared and benches cleared when Contreras had a few words for Brad Boxberger back at Wrigley when he was hit on the arm a day after taking one to the head.
This time, however, the catcher let his bat do the talking.
With his team trailing by a run and one man on with one out, Contreras walloped a 2-1 fastball that Brent Suter grooved middle-middle. It took almost no time for the ball to travel 438 feet into deep left-center to give the Cubs a 3-2 lead they’d hold onto for the win.
Contreras admired the blast, then turned and tossed his bat back toward the dugout before trotting around the bases and kindly reminding the Brewers fans in attendance to lower their volume.
“It feels good to shut them up,” Contreras said after the game. “We sent a message. I think they picked the wrong guy to throw at. That was a message sent.”
Though he knows the Brewers aren’t hitting him intentionally, Contreras has obviously been frustrated by the frequency of the plunkings. If pitchers are going to come inside, they should have the command to be able to do it effectively. And while plenty of meatball fans think hitting a guy will scare him off the plate, they may want to reconsider who they’re talking about in this instance.
Beyond the more pressing safety issues with throwing at a player, there’s the very practical strategic failing of putting a free runner on base. That goes double for a team mired in a historic offensive slump that sees them struggling to put men on by any means at all. Why an opponent would afford the Cubs any breaks, let alone add motivation to them, is beyond me.
But hey, we’re talking about the same team that’s still mad over a rain delay on a sunny day and that couldn’t use a pitcher Monday because he wasn’t listed on the lineup card. If I can channel Pat Hughes for a moment, you kind of feel like this could be a turning point. The Cubs have been so bad that something is bound to change soon, might as well happen now.