CHICAGO – The Cubs returned to action this afternoon, looking to pick up a much needed series win over the red hot Brewers. Today’s game featured pitchers Kyle Hendricks (1-1) for the Cubs and Tommy Milone (1-0) going for the Brewers. Last night’s win for the Cubs snapped an unusual skid for the team, probably because I was in attendance. I don’t want to give myself all the credit, that’s not what us bloggers are here for. But I do have to take the credit, all of it; it’s mine, get over it.
Travis Shaw, a name it seems like I’m constantly typing as of late, started things off in the top of the first for the Brewers with a two-run homer, scoring Eric Thames who reached on a walk. The early scoring seems common as of now, considering the Brewers have been jumping all over the Cubs in the beginning of ball games. Heading into the bottom of the frame, the Brewers led the Cubs 2-0.
Matt Szczur got the start in left field today, giving Kyle Schwarber the day off. He started off the game with a lead-off single against Milone, but the Cubs couldn’t manifest any runs following the hit. Hendricks returned in the second, hoping to settle in and begin to wear down the Brewers line up with his, at-times, inhuman control. But catcher Jett Bandy (yes, that’s his real name) had other plans, launching a solo shot to left, proving Hendricks is only human.
In the bottom of the second, Albert Almora Jr. unloaded on an 88 mph fastball for a home run, bringing the Cubs within two. The top of the fourth featured more run production out of the Brewers lineup. With two outs in the inning, Orlando Arcia singled and Tommy Milone walked, bringing up Jonathan Villar. Villar then singled to shallow center, scoring Arcia, making the score 4-1.
Mike Montgomery, the southpaw reliever, replaced Hendricks in the sixth, ending his night. His final pitching numbers on the day read something like this: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 4R/4ER, 4 BB, 4 K. Montgomery fortunately got out of a self-created jam after walking the bases loaded. The bullpen seemingly continues to struggle thus far, causing me to wonder if maybe it’s because they moved the bullpens under the bleachers. I really was a fan of the unorthodox bullpen set up.
Reliever Carlos Torres replaced Milone in the sixth inning, looking to keep the Cubs at bay. After a pair of two-out walks by Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell, Willson Contreras singled to right, scoring Rizzo. But with Russell on third and a great chance to chip away at the lead, Almora Jr. struck out, ending the inning.
Jacob Barnes took over pitching duties in the seventh, pitching a scoreless frame. In the eighth, Koji Uehara relieved Montgomery, hoping to put his last appearance behind him (0.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2H). Uehara retired the side in order, keeping the Cubs within two runs heading in the bottom of the eighth.
Corey Knebel appeared in the eighth for the Brewers, immediately walking Kris Bryant. Rizzo then singled, moving Bryant to third. Russell then singled to right field, following a tough at-bat in which he forced a 3-2 count. Rizzo and Russell moved up 90-feet following a gutsy double steal call by Joe Maddon. Almora Jr. batted next, attempting to score the runners on second and third to give the Cubs the lead. But he would lose the match-up, following a solid eleven pitch at-bat versus Knebel. Neftali Feliz relieved Knebel looking to pick up a four-out save. He got himself out of the jam, however, by striking out Javier Baez, freezing the score at 4-3 going into the ninth.
Wade Davis worked the ninth for the Cubs and kept his ERA at 0.00. Kyle Schwarber pinch-hit to begin the ninth, popping out to second. Feliz then walked Jon Jay, bringing up Miguel Montero with the game winning run at the plate. Montero stayed hot and singled to right, moving Jay to third with Bryant coming to the plate. In a surprise move, Carl Edwards Jr. pinch ran for Montero, a relatively smart move when considering who’s faster of the pair.
Kris Bryant singled to center field, tying the ballgame at 4-4. Rizzo came up to bat with the winning run on second. Rizzo grounded out to Feliz, but advanced the runners 90-feet in the process, creating a win scenario with any hit. Addison Russell then delivered a no-doubt, walk-off three-run home run to give the Cubs a 7-4 victory. Holy Cow! That was insane.
Willson Contreras: 2-4, 2B, RBI
Albert Almora Jr.: 1-4, HR, R, RBI
Addison Russell: 2-4, 3-R HR, 4 RBI
Travis Shaw: 1-5, 2R-HR, 2 RBI
Jett Brandy: 1-3, HR, R, RBI
The Comeback Cubs returned for a second consecutive game, coming back from an early 3-0 deficit. Also, I just trademarked the term “Comeback Cubs” so don’t even think about using it. Picking up back-to-back wins is a great way to head into an off day, especially considering the Cubs lulls as of late.
Kyle Hendricks had another rough outing in which he gave up multiple home runs. The soft-tosser is still looking to maintain his grove in 2017, but no one expects him to return to 2016 form, considering how well he pitched last year. Maybe the pressures of 2016 are starting to get to him. Or maybe I’m wrong, that’s also a real possibility.
The Cubs have an off-day tomorrow before returning to action on Friday against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati. The Cubs long home stand comes to an unfortunate end and the Cubs look to rebound on the road. The pitching match-up is as follows: Jon Lester (0-0) vs. Tim Adleman (0-0).
First Pitch: 6:10 PM (CT)
Radio: 670 The Score