The Cubs are in the middle of a stretch of games where the team needs to get hot. They accomplished this with a three game sweep of the Reds. Unfortunately the Brewers were also coming in to town on a three game winning streak. The first half of the game was a see-saw battle but the Cubs never threatened after a lengthy rain delay in the sixth inning. So what is the opposite of Reign Men?
Eddie Butler failed to deliver consistent strike in his encore performance at Wrigley. Butler walked the first two batters of the game before he struck out the next two. Domingo Santana walked and Jett Bandy bounced a single back up the middle giving the Brewers an early 2-0 lead. Butler retired Keon Broxton to end the inning with just one hit allowed but two runs in. The Cubs sturggled against Paolo Espino in the first two frames. It required Espino just 6 pitches to complete the first inning with a strikeout.
Butler seemed to settle in the third inning with a little help from his defense. Anthony Rizzo made a nice backhanded stop to get Travis Shaw to start the inning. Domingo Santana struck out before Jett Bandy singled again. Keon Broxton smoked a ball to left field, but Kyle Schwarber made a spectacular diving catch to end the inning. Javy Baez reached base for the first time for the Cubs on a Broxton error. The play resulted in Baez standing on second. Butler sacrificed Baez to third. Jon Jay ripped a double down the right field line to get the Cubs on the board, but Espino recovered to limit the damage to just one.
Butler started the fourth inning, but an Orlando Arcia infield single to lead off the inning ended Butler's day. Mike Montgomery was gifted an Espino sacrifice to start his outing. An Eric Sogard groundball resulted in Arcia moving to third and the second out of the inning. Montgomery struck out Eric Thames to keep the Cubs within one. Rizzo and Ian Happ singles started the Cubs fourth inning. Ben Zobrist hit another groundball single to load the bases. Willson Contreras smacked an outside fastball up the middle to flip the score 3-2 Cubs. The bottom of the order failed to produce another base runner before the inning.
Montgomery went back out in the fifth trying to absorb some of the innings Butler left. Shaw hit a one out double, and Bandy walked following a Santana groundout. Montgomery walked Broxton next, and Orlando Arcia hit another perfectly placed infield squibber. This time Zobrist could not get the handle on the soft single from Arcia tying the game. Jesus Aguilar pinch hit for Espino and drew a bases loaded walk to drive in the go ahead run. Montgomery got a Sogard flew out to end the fifth inning. Rob Scahill was the next Brewers pitched and he quickly retired the side in order.
Pierce Johnson made his major league debut in the sixth inning. Eric Thames ripped a single to start the inning as the rain began to fall a little harder. Jonathan Villar hit a high pop fly just outside the infield. Baez wasn't able to read the path of the ball in the wind. Schwarber ran in all the way from deep left and managed to get a glove on the ball. Schwarber tried to flip the ball to Zobrist at second but the ball ended up in right field. Thames and Villar were on second and third when the umpire suspended the game.
Johnson remained on the mound when the rain delay was finally over. Johnson struck out Shaw for the first out, but Santana got into the action with a solid single back up the middle. An Ian Happ throwing error allowed Santana to reach second as the two runners scored. Jett Bandy remained ungetoutable for some strange reason with another walk, but an Arcia groundout prevented any further damage. Oliver Drake was tasked with protecting the Brewers new 6-3 lead. Happ gave him a long at bat, but ended up grouding out. That was the most exciting part of a 1-2-3 inning for the Brewers middle reliever.
Brian Duensing and Wily Peralta traded zeroes for a couple innings. Carlos Torres was given the save opportunity for the Brewers. Miguel Montero flew out on the first pitch. The other half of the catching tandem flew out on the fifth pitch. Villar bobbled a tough fly ball in shallow right field off the bat of Baez. It was the first hit a Brewers reliever gave up on the afternoon becoming evening. La Stella grounded out to end the tease rally. The Brewers extended their division lead with the 6-3 win.
So the Butler couldn't do it again. Jeeves struggled with his command which would be a theme for Cubs pitchers on the day. Butler walked five of the first eleven batters he faced. He did manage to prevent the game from getting out of hand, but it took him 92 pitches to pitch just over 3 innings today. This was the guy that the Rockies gave up on, and leaves some questions about whether Butler can be counted on as a regular in the rotation. Another turn through the rotation should be interesting to see what Jeeves can do.
Early on the Cubs were playing some really spectuclar defense. The diving catch Kyle Schwarber made to end the third was unbelievable. The Cubs looked to be back to playing the kind of defense that they featured last year. Then the rain started to come down, and Orlando Arcia hit infield singles that people couldn't handle. And then it rained harder. Baez couldn't track a ball with the wind, and Schwarber ends up making two errors on a play that was the result of him running a long, long way. Arcia ended the day with three hits with a combined distance of maybe 100 feet.
It wasn't a very fun game to watch. So lets enjoy this replay of Schwarber running in to try to make a second unbelievable catch of the day.
Three Stars of Game
Third Star-Willson Contreras (1-4, 2 RBI)
Contreras had the one big hit for the Cubs. The offense wasn't particularly strong today.
Second Star-Jett Bandy (2-3, 1 R, 2 RBI)
My least favorite Star Wars character reached base four times.
First Star-The Brewers Bullpen (5 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 10 K)
Collective stars are lame, but the Brewers bullpen was magnificent today.