Yeah, so Ivy is still doing college stuff, which is important, and because we’re always looking at a macro view, even though we’re all rabid Chicago Cubs fans, we still have lives that require much more attention than our maybe-contending favorite team, who apparently have issues. Anyway, since Ivy is busy, I’m going to be working this series recap again, so…yay? Onward…
Chicago Cubs @ Milwaukee Brewers, Miller Park
Friday, May 8: Cubs 7, Brewers 6
In what turned out to be the only Cubs win in this weekend series, Dexter Fowler led off the game with a solo shot to get the Cubs on the right track. Jason Hammel did his best to keep the Cubs in the lead, giving up two runs in seven very strong innings of work. The bullpen, which has been taxed a bit lately and regardless, hasn’t performed all that well, kept letting the Brewers chip away, but thanks to some hustle by Kris Bryant, the Cubs scored just enough to survive a shaky Hector Rondon closer-in-a-nonsave-situation appearance where he gave up a three-run bomb to Ryan Braun. The Cubs did hit four homers and that was pretty fun.
Saturday, May 9: Cubs 4, Brewers 12
As you may or may not know, the Cubs rotation, especially towards the back end, has been meh at best, and this game was no exception. The Cubs bats should have done well enough to win, putting Kyle Lohse on the ropes in his five innings of work, but Travis Wood couldn’t make those runs hold up, and Edwin Jackson couldn’t even get an out. This spoiled my awesome Nostradamus impression and Kris Bryant‘s first career home run, but thanks to Joe Maddon and some esprit de corps, the Cubs shrugged it off and had a bit of fun in the game anyway. I know fans don’t like that because they want the guys to be miserable throughout every loss as some kind of heavy penance. But it’s one game, lighten up. Regardless of that, though, it does appear the Cubs have some pitching issues they have to sort out.
Sunday, May 10: Cubs 2, Brewers 3 (11 innings)
We can talk about any number of things in this one. Maybe all the strikeouts (41 in the series, against just 6 walks despite some good approaches again at the plate)…maybe the fact that all the hard hit balls found defenders…maybe Joe Maddon‘s pitching decisions (le shrug). But this game honestly could have gone either way.
Matt Garza pitched very well despite the aforementioned hard-hit balls, and it was kind of annoying that the Cubs never bothered to try to bunt against him just to see if he’d throw the ball away. They did have a few chances to, but I guess they figured they could just hammer him. Of course, with the Brewers sporting a terrible record, Garza was pitching to get traded to a contender anyway. Garza only gave up a solo shot to Miguel Montero. Kyle Hendricks pitched well enough in his 5.1 innings of work, but the outing was so short because Hendricks was also getting pummeled (they just go for outs sometimes). Justin Grimm locked down the rest of the inning, but Zac Rosscup gave up back-to-back shots to bottom of the order guys in the bottom of the seventh (who knew? Baseball!) and that was pretty annoying. Anthony Rizzo tied the game (sort of) when he slapped a should-be out over Ryan Braun‘s head for a “double” which “scored” Dexter Fowler, who looked like he was running at 3/4 impulse but got a gift run out of it when Martin Maldonado couldn’t corral the relay throw that would’ve cut down Fowler by a mile. Maldonado got the last laugh when Jason Motte, pitching in front of a five-man infield, served up a fly ball to allow the Brewers to walk off in the bottom of the 11th. Feh.
The worst possible thing to come out of this game, aside from the series loss, was the fact that Matt Garza got to gloat…
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) May 10, 2015
We also had a brief kerfuffle about David Ross‘ double-play-by-interference due to a hard/dirty slide into second base in the top of the 10th inning, which automatically meant Dexter Fowler was out at first. But the rule is a judgment call, even if it looked like Ross didn’t do much worse than, say, Matt Holliday usually does…
— Evan Altman (@DEvanAltman) May 10, 2015
The umpires certainly weren’t kind to the Cubs, but the team still needs to execute despite umpire fails. It’s also important to realize that despite their craptacular record to start the season, the Brewers were not that atrocious. Good teams losing series to mediocre or bad teams will happen over a long season. Let’s see what happens when the Cubs see the Brewers next in late July.
The Cubs now travel home to Wrigley Field, which should have bleacher fans in left and center for the home stand, to face a surprisingly hot New York Mets club. There are going to be some very difficult matchups with the front end of the Mets’ rotation, including a top Mets prospect making his major league debut…
METS-Cubs probables: deGrom vs. Lester; Syndergaard (major league debut) vs. Arrieta; Harvey vs. Hammel; Niese vs. Wood.
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) May 10, 2015
It’s difficult to know how the bullpen will hold up, or whether the Cubs will even stay with their current pitching staff. Signs point to the rotation standing pat, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some shuffling around the fringes to shore up the bullpen, and perhaps even seeing if certain productive minor leaguers (Arismendy Alcantara?) will get another shot at the big time. The Cubs open the series at 15-15 after 30 games, dropping temporarily out of the wild card spots, but with plenty of season left to bring back relief reinforcements and have the young position players adjust to the way the league is pitching to them. Here we go…
New York Mets @ Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field