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Brewers 4, Cubs 3: A rare Wade Davis failure

The Cubs closer had his first blown save of 2017.

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Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The late Steve Goodman, writer of folk songs as well as his famous anthem “Go Cubs Go,” was the subject of a biography called “Facing The Music” written by Clay Eals in 2007.

There is quite a bit about baseball in the book, as Steve loved baseball and the Cubs nearly as much as his music. In the bio, Eals writes about a game Goodman attended with journalist Steve Weitzman between the Pirates and Mets at Shea Stadium September 20, 1976. The Pirates were in a tough race with the Phillies for the N.L. East title, entering the day four games back with 14 remaining.

Lee Mazzilli, then a Mets rookie, hit a two-run walkoff homer and the Pirates were essentially eliminated from the race.

Eals quoted Goodman as saying to Weitzman after that game: "September baseball is a m**********r." (Expletive deleted, for obvious reasons. The book, incidentally, is highly recommended.)

That is, I suspect, how just about all of us felt after Travis Shaw’s two-run homer off Wade Davis gave the Brewers a come-from-behind 4-3 win over the Cubs in 10 innings Saturday afternoon, delaying any possible Cubs division-clinching celebration until Tuesday.

And you know... after Davis allowed a game-tying homer to Orlando Arcia in the ninth inning, I think I might have sent Hector Rondon out there for the 10th after the Cubs took the lead. I know, I know, Joe Maddon’s trying to get Davis accustomed to multi-inning situations for the postseason, but you have to get there first, right?

The Cubs seemed to be getting there Saturday afternoon, though it was another tough, tight game. Three singles off Kyle Hendricks plated a run for Milwaukee in the first inning, but after that Kyle allowed just five other hits, all singles, and a walk while striking out six. He’s just about back to the place he was most of last year:

That includes Saturday’s outing.

The Cubs tied the game in the second inning. Willson Contreras and Albert Almora Jr. began the inning with singles. After Addison Russell forced Almora, Javier Baez struck out. Ian Happ followed with another single, scoring Contreras.

The game went 1-1 into the eighth. The Dartmouth vs. Harvard matchup of Hendricks vs. Brent Suter simply wasn’t giving up anything except singles.

That is, until the eighth, when Happ led off with a double. Jason Heyward walked and both runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Jon Jay. Kris Bryant was next:

Meanwhile, Justin Wilson had entered the game in the seventh and looked like he was supposed to look when the Cubs got him. This was by far his best appearance as a Cub, 12 strikes in 17 pitches and three strikeouts out of the four batters he faced, hitting 96 and 97 miles per hour. This is the only good thing that came out of this game — maybe, just maybe, Wilson has figured things out and can be counted on during the postseason.

Again, the Cubs have to get there first.

Pedro Strop finished off the eighth inning with a strikeout and a popup and on the game went to the ninth. The Cubs didn’t score and the Brewers did, with Arcia’s home run. It was the first blown save for Davis this year after 32 saves. These things happen. It didn’t come at a very good time.

The Cubs, though, went right about their business in the 10th. Happ led off with a walk and was sacrificed to second. Jay followed with an RBI single and the Cubs had a quick 3-2 lead, but that’s all they got.

And then with one out in the 10th, Ryan Braun doubled and Shaw hit his home run and that was that. As I said, I might have considered sending Rondon out for the 10th inning. Now, with Davis having thrown 29 pitches on Thursday and 23 in this one, he might not be available Sunday. Joe Maddon, though, is looking at these games as playoff games:

And he doesn’t blame Davis:

This is the first time the Cubs played three consecutive extra-inning games since June 7-8-9, 2001. The first of those was against the Cardinals and the other two against the White Sox, and just as now, the Cubs won two of those three.

Do not despair. There are eight games remaining in the season and if the Cubs can win five of them, they’ll clinch the division title no matter what anyone else does. They’ll have the chance to eliminate the Cardinals beginning Monday in St. Louis, and if the Pirates can defeat the Cardinals Saturday evening, the Cubs’ overall magic number drops to four. And, of course, they’ll have the chance to eliminate the Cardinals head-to-head in St. Louis beginning Monday. This one was just one loss, though a tough one.

Lastly, let me say some things about the Fox-TV broadcast, which was, in a word, awful. John Smoltz is usually better than that, but he seemed off his game Saturday, and Matt Vasgersian was spouting off incorrect things about why Cubs fans go to Miller Park (instead of the “intimate” Wrigley Field, which has a capacity only about 1,000 less than Miller Park). It’s mostly about ticket pricing and convenience, as most of you here know. Then Vasgersian kept mispronouncing Arcia’s name (it’s AR-cia, not “ar-SEE-a”). And while I know the TV channel the game is on is irrelevant to the way the Cubs play, they should be very happy to say farewell to Fox for the 2017 regular season, as they lost all five games they played on the network this year. The Cubs won’t appear on Fox during the postseason unless they get to the World Series — all the National League playoff games in 2017 are on TBS.

Sunday afternoon’s season finale between the Cubs and Brewers will also determine who wins the season series, as it’s tied at nine wins each. (We hope, of course, there’s no need for a tiebreaker game, but the winner of Sunday’s game would host a tiebreaker between the Cubs and Brewers.) Jose Quintana will go for the Cubs at 1:10 p.m. CT, and he’ll face Chase Anderson.