After a drubbing at the hands of the Rays Wednesday night, the Cubs came to Milwaukee in need of making a statement. After leading for much of the game, the bullpen faltered a bit, but dug deep when it mattered most. Jake Arrieta had a decent outing in his return to the Cubs lineup, pitching five innings of one-run ball while allowing five hits, walking one, and striking out two. The two strikeouts is something noteworthy, because he’s usually good for five or more. Since it was his first start back I don’t think it’s anything to be overly concerned about at this point (box score).
Why the Cubs Won
The pitching got it done when they needed to, even though Pedro Strop and Justin Wilson both struggled a bit. Strop allowed the tying run to score in the 7th, while Wilson allowed the go-ahead run to score in the 8th. Wade Davis came in and did what he does best: end any offensive threats that come his way.
The offense also came up big today. Kyle Schwarber started the scoring with a towering oppo-bomb in the second. Anthony Rizzo drove in a run in the third to increase the lead to 2-0, and the Cubs would maintain this lead until the aforementioned 7th inning.
The biggest moment came for a player we all know and love for his amazing defense. Javy Baez stepped to the plate with two outs, down a run, and Ian Happ on second. On a 1-2 count, he grounded a ball on the shortstop side of second that was just out of Orlando Arcia’s reach, allowing Happ to score easily. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the hustle that allowed Happ to reach first. He softly bounced a ball to Brewers second baseman Neil Walker and had to beat the pitcher to the bag, which he did. If Happ doesn’t make that play, Baez can’t save the day.
Wade Davis came into the game in the 9th with a man on first and one out and got himself in a bit of a pickle. He hit Ryan Braun then allowed a single to Travis Shaw, loading the bases with one out. Luckily, Davis is basically a machine, as he struck out Domingo Santana and got Arcia to bounce out softly to him, ending the final Brewer threat.
Kris Bryant sealed the game with a long two-run bomb to center in the top of the 10th on a 3-2 count to win it for the Cubs. Anthony Rizzo almost followed with a homer himself, but the umpires ruled that the ball didn’t hit the top of the wall, so Rizzo had to settle for a triple.
Stats that Matter
The Cubs scored more than the Brewers when it was all said and done. That is the only true stat that matters, because this game could have very well ended with the Cubs hanging their heads.
The offense was 3-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base.
The Cubs’ bats drew six walks and struck out only five times tonight.
The Cubs won a game that helped inch them closer to the playoffs. They also won a game in which it appeared all hope was lost, because losing the lead right before a team’s final three outs has got to be devastating for morale. Luckily, the Cubs are a mentally tough bunch and were able to focus on the task at hand to reduce their magic number to six. It was an exciting start to what should be a compelling series.
John Lackey takes the bump for the Cubs while Brandon Woodruff goes for the Brewers. First pitch is at 6:35 CT and will be broadcast on WGN. If you’re interested, it is also being broadcast on ESPN.