It was a boring, disappointing game…until it wasn’t. The Cubs scored first to take a 1-0 lead, then gave the run right back and didn’t score again for five innings in keeping with their season-long MO. I mean, no way could they do anything with all-world closer Devin Williams on the mound going for his 19th save. But after two days of giving away leads, the Cubs owed their opponents a little of their own medicine.
Trailing 3-1 in the top of the 9th, Cody Bellinger led off with a blooper that dropped between three defenders. After Christopher Morel struck out swinging, Jared Young, who’s shown excellent pull power since coming up, singled on a soft grounder to third and Yan Gomes grounded out to second to advance the runners. Brice Turang‘s decision to get the out at first may have determined the game, though it would have been really tough for him to make any other play.
Mike Tauchman has not been as good on the road as he is at Wrigley, but he always puts up a tough plate appearance and this was no different. He worked a 2-1 count and then fouled off four straight pitches — two fastballs and two changeups — before lacing a double to left that scored both runners to tie the game. Nico Hoerner proceeded to ground out to third, except Brian Anderson‘s poor throw couldn’t be corraled and Tauchman came around to score the go-ahead run.
As Boog Sciambi noted during the broadcast, batters came into this game 1-for-58 against Williams in two-strike counts. The Cubs went 2-for-3 with both Young and Tauchman coming through against the odds.
Adbert Alzolay came on for the save and did so with very little drama, touching 98 mph on the gun as he set the Brewers down in order with two strikeouts and a lineout. The comeback took Justin Steele off the hook for the loss, though he still got another quality start and kept his team in the game despite not having his best stuff.
This was a very big win and guarantees at least a split heading into Thursday’s finale. It was marred a bit by Dansby Swanson‘s early departure with a heel contusion, so let’s hope it’s not as serious as a similar issue that kept him out for a month earlier in his career. (Box score)
The Tauchman at-bat gets the nod here for obvious reasons. Not only did it tie the game, but it really seemed to have rattled the home team and an argument could be made that the bad throw came in part due to Anderson being a little shocked by the way events unfolded. Even if the Brewers were not at all shaken, it felt like the Cubs had won it on that double and the next score was merely a formality.
Why the Cubs Won
They didn’t hang their heads and pack it in despite being in a situation they shouldn’t have escaped from. Three of their nine hits came in the final frame against Williams, which felt like something the 2015 and ’16 squads would have done. They also played excellent defense, with Morel making tremendous plays at both third and second.
Stats That Matter
- Steele limited the Brewers to three runs on nine hits to notch his 11th QS
- Seiya Suzuki was 3-for-4 as he continues to work out of a bad slump
- Bellinger had two hits to extend his streak to 11 games
- Michael Rucker managed to hold the Brewers scoreless in spite of three walks in two innings
This was a big game for a team that is still looking for every reason to justify buying at the deadline, and now they have their co-ace on the mound for the series finale. Rather than going out with a whimper, they roared to life and could keep making noise to and through the All-Star break. We’ve heard this story before, though, so feel free to reserve optimism until the end of the month.