As was common in the first half of 2017, the Cubs struggled to find consistency. This win over the Brewers broke a four-game losing streak. Jon Jay’s two-run triple was the biggest blow in this win. It brought the Cubs back to .500 at 7-7 and they were in third place in the N.L. Central, two games out of first.
Around the third inning you could forgive any Cubs fan who wondered if their losing streak was going to start galloping away.
The Cubs had spotted the Brewers a 5-0 lead, and Brett Anderson was getting hit hard.
Then the offense woke up. Kyle Schwarber began the scoring:
Boop. pic.twitter.com/wdym7NQKOw— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 19, 2017
Schwarber’s two-run blast cut the deficit to three runs. However, when Anderson gave up a home run to Orlando Arcia in the fourth, Joe Maddon decided he’d seen enough, even though Anderson then retired the next two hitters.
Is Brett Anderson the new Jason Hammel, subject to Joe’s quick hook? Hope not, actually. Maybe this was just a one-off. Brian Duensing got out of that inning and Miguel Montero made the score 6-4 with a two-run homer [VIDEO] that had some help from a strong wind blowing out to reach the basket in right-center field.
Montero’s been getting a bit more playing time and he responded Tuesday night with a 3-for-4 evening.
Duensing, though, served up a home-run ball to Travis Shaw and it was 7-4.
That’s when the Cubs bullpen and offense took over. The offense put together a four-run inning in the sixth, highlighted by a two-run pinch-hit single by Albert Almora Jr. and a triple from Jon Jay [VIDEO]. Jay’s hit tied the game and then he scored on a wild pitch by Jared Hughes to give the Cubs an 8-7 lead.
Well. The Cubs had leads during the losing streak that vanished, but on this night the bullpen did a superb job. Justin Grimm, Carl Edwards Jr., Hector Rondon and Wade Davis (third save) combined for four scoreless innings with just one baserunner, a two-out walk issued by Rondon in the eighth.
The Cubs added an insurance run on Kris Bryant’s second hit of the game, a double laced down the left-field line, and the 9-7 win over the Brewers snapped the four-game losing streak and brought the Cubs’ record back to .500.
This is the way this team is supposed to win: with timely hitting and solid bullpen work. Anderson’s outing is a bit concerning. At one point the trainer came out to look at him after a ball hit him on the right foot in the first inning. It’s not clear whether that had anything to do with his early exit.
Fun stuff: Anthony Rizzo added one more “tarp catch” to his repertoire [VIDEO].
The biggest takeaway from this win: the bullpen did what it was supposed to do and hitters who had been struggling put up 15 hits’ worth of offense. And here’s something that I had perceived that turned out not to be true. It was my sense so far this year that the Cubs hadn’t been as patient at the plate as they were a year ago. But that isn’t the case. The Cubs have drawn 53 walks in 14 games, an average of 3.79 per game. That’s not quite the pace of a year ago, but it still would result in 613 walks this season, which would be close to the team-record 656 from a year ago.
So this one is a hopeful sign. Now, let’s see the Cubs put together a few more like this.
Weather permitting, the Cubs go for the series win Wednesday afternoon in a 1:20 p.m. CT start. After a cold night Monday, Tuesday’s game was played in 77-degree temperatures that made the ballpark feel like June. Sometime Wednesday, what’s known as a pneumonia front is supposed to roll through the Chicago area and drop temperatures back into the 40s. Kyle Hendricks will take the mound for the Cubs and Tommy Milone goes for the Brewers.