Brewers 5, Cubs 4: Baserunners Gone Wild

Mike McGinnis

As has been typical of this year, the Cubs went behind early, then got back in the game. But the story of this one is some wacky baserunning.

It's been said, to me at least, that if you watch baseball long enough, you will eventually see something you have never seen before.

That was the case during Friday night's 5-4 Cubs loss to the Brewers. So before I go over some of the Cubs' performances during this loss, let's talk about Milwaukee shortstop Jean Segura's baserunning adventures.

Let's set the scene. It's the bottom of the eighth; Milwaukee is leading 5-4, and Kevin Gregg has come in to pitch for the Cubs. (That's scary enough, but read on.) Segura hit a ground ball to deep shortstop; Starlin Castro made the play and a good throw, but Segura's speed got him an infield single. Then Segura stole second base, and Gregg walked Ryan Braun.

That brought Shawn Camp into the game; it looked like the Brewers might blow the game open.

Camp ran the count on Rickie Weeks to 1-2 and then caught Segura leaning between second and third, and that's when the fun began. The Cubs ran Segura back to second, but by that time Braun had also run toward second base; both runners wound up there. Luis Valbuena tagged both Braun and Segura. Second-base umpire Phil Cuzzi pointed at Braun and signaled out.

All would have continued with no oddity had Segura simply stayed at second base, the base he was entitled to. But he started jogging toward the first-base dugout, as if he had been out. Darwin Barney took the ball and started chasing him; Segura then ran toward first base and stayed there. No one was covering first base because... well, why would you do that? What baserunner runs backward around the bases?

Segura, apparently. After Weeks struck out for the second out, Segura decided he wanted second base back again. This time, Welington Castillo threw him out. So Segura both stole second and was caught stealing second -- in the same inning.

No, I have never seen that before. And it blew up MLB.com Gameday, because this is how they described the play:

With Jonathan Lucroy batting, Jean Segura caught stealing 3rd base, catcher Welington Castillo to second baseman Darwin Barney.

Bizarre. I've never seen that before, either with my own eyes or something like that on Gameday; apparently, Gameday couldn't handle a player trying to steal the same base twice in the same inning. And I doubt I'll ever see it again. I often criticize umpires, but this one, they got right. Further, it was reported over Twitter Friday night that Larry Young, an umpire supervisor, was in the press box and told reporters that if the Cubs had tagged Segura standing on first base before the next pitch was thrown, that he would have been out. But since the Cubs were among others who had never seen that happen before, they likely didn't know, and the umpires are under no obligation to tell them. Once a pitch was thrown, Segura was entitled to first base -- which he promptly gave up trying to steal his way back to second.

You can see the entire sequence by clicking here (called with some bemusement by the Brewers announcers), or watch it below.

Wow, more than 500 words and I've only written about one half-inning of this loss.

Jeff Samardzija started out poorly in this one; the first five batters reached base, including one on an error by the usually-reliable Anthony Rizzo and another on a ball that was misplayed by Barney that could have been ruled another error. Four runs scored and it looked like the game was over.

But Samardzija settled down and allowed just two more hits and completed seven innings. Unfortunately, one of those two additional hits was a home run by Carlos Gomez, which turned out to be the difference in the game. The Cubs mounted a third-inning, three-run comeback highlighted by home runs by Valbuena and David DeJesus, and Rizzo homered in the eighth, a second-deck blast that brought the Cubs back to within a run. But there the score stayed, as new Brewers closer Jim Henderson shut the Cubs down in the ninth with just a two-out pinch-single by Dioner Navarro. New Cub Julio Borbon ran for Navarro -- and was caught trying to steal second to end the game, which somehow seemed appropriate for this one.

One more thing worth mentioning: Shark got upset in the sixth when he thought he had Weeks struck out on a 2-2 pitch; instead, it was called ball three and Dale Sveum had to come out of the dugout to help protect Samardzija from being tossed. Instead, Sveum was tossed, apparently for the unpardonable sin of asking Chris Guccione why he took his mask off. Let me go back to criticizing umpires -- they need to not have such short fuses. It was Sveum's first ejection of the season, but more importantly, Samardizja has to learn to not let these things bother him. He did in Atlanta on the season's first weekend and it resulted in him losing his focus and the Braves blowing a close game open.

So the Cubs lose for the 16th time in their last 18 tries at Miller Park. Someday, this streak will come to an end. Tonight, the Cubs face Hiram Burgos, a pitcher making his major-league debut. One thing I think I can assure you: you won't see baserunning like Friday night's again.

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