One the eve of the half-way point in the season, the Cubs dropped their 8th game in 11 matchups with the Brewers this year. It was a 3.5+ hour slog, it wasn’t any fun, and ANOTHER Cubs backup catcher may have been injured on the final play of the game. Sigh.
Yes, the Cubs did out-hit the Brewers, who managed only TWO hits tonight, but they also struck out 12 times and failed over and over with runners in scoring position (1-10, with a bunch of chances late). It was all very familiar and very frustrating.
Zach Davies was good early on, with solid velocity (I saw 90 MPH on the radar gun more than once) and generally good command, but he was ultimately chased from the game after just four innings due to a perfect storm of circumstances: (1) his pitch count was driven up at the same time (2) his spot in the order was due up, and (3) the Brewers order was due up for the third time in the bottom of the 5th. He almost cruised through that fourth inning with a clean shot at completing five tonight, but he didn’t make it. And that was that.
Meanwhile, Brandon Woodruff was expectedly impressive, striking out every Cubs batter in the starting lineup besides Patrick Wisdom and Eric Sogard. For a second there, it looked like the Cubs might chase him early with their patient approach at the plate and aggressive approach on the bases, but he battled through it all and ultimately went 6.0 innings of one-run baseball, which was enough to beat the Cubs.
Offensively, the Cubs didn’t have much outside of Javy Baez’s triple and Patrick Wisdom’s double, which plated their only run of the night. They did create some drama with two outs in the 7th, but Ian Happ struck out with the bases loaded to end the threat. It was an exceptionally tough night for Happ overall (2Ks, 6 LOB) and he’s obviously struggling very badly this year.
The Cubs had another chance in the 8th, that ended with a line-drive double play, and the tying run made it into scoring position in the ninth … buuuut Josh Hader struck Javy Baez out before Jose Lobaton grounded out weakly to end the game (we’ll check on his status as soon as we know more).
Oh, and if you needed any indication on the status of Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant tonight, Lobaton taking that at-bat against Hader, looking for his first hit of the season, was it. David Ross already used Rafael Ortega and Jake Marisnick. There was no one left.
The Cubs are now 42-38, five full games behind the Brewers, with a five game losing streak heading into tomorrow’s finale.