Nicholas Castellanos’ solo home run in the top of the third inning gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead. It was Castellanos’ 13th home run in 33 games as a Cub. He hit 11 in 100 games with the Tigers this season.
The Brewers took the lead, and stayed there, in the bottom of that inning. The key blow was a three-run homer by Christian Yelich, and tip o’ the cap to him. Look at the pitch he hit the home run on:
Pitch 7 — that’s a really good pitch by Cole Hamels, a changeup just at the bottom of the zone, similar to pitch 3 which Yelich fouled off. That one, he didn’t miss. He’s a really good hitter and that happened at the worst possible time for Hamels and the Cubs, as noted here:
Over the past two seasons, Christian Yelich has a .700 SLG vs. lefty changeups. But looking at his zone profile for 2018-19 vs. those pitches, Hamels went to a good location with his 3-2 change in the 3rd inning. Yelich just beat him. pic.twitter.com/HvqtRG4HA1— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) September 7, 2019
The Cubs had only two other hits: a double by Castellanos in the first inning and another double by Kris Bryant in the second. Beyond that they had just two other baserunners, both in the person of Jason Heyward, who walked in the second and seventh.
Beyond that, the best Cubs performance on the night was posted by Tyler Chatwood, who threw two scoreless innings without walking anyone. That was Chatwood’s first walkless outing since he threw three innings with no bases on balls against these same Brewers August 4 at Wrigley Field. The Brewers scored an unearned run off Pedro Strop in the seventh and another off Adbert Alzolay in the eighth to complete the scoring.
It happens. The game ended the Cubs’ six-game road winning streak as they ran into some solid pitching and Hamels couldn’t match it. Fortunately, the Cardinals also lost Friday night, so the Cubs’ deficit remains at 2½ games in the N.L. Central. The Cardinals have had similar troubles on the road to the Cubs, with a 33-36 record away from St. Louis. Hopefully that continues in Pittsburgh tonight. And, the Cubs also didn’t lose any ground to the Nationals in the wild-card race, as Washington also lost. So, the Cubs remain two games behind the Nats for the top wild-card spot and lead the Diamondbacks for the second wild-card spot by 2½ games.
The Cubs would have to finish ahead of Washington to host the wild-card game, as the Nats won the season series. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, and the Cubs win the N.L. Central and don’t have to worry about the one-and-done game this year.
The rest of this recap is going to be team news, as that’s more important than talking about this game.
News item No. 1:
Maddon: Baez scheduled to have MRI on ailing thumb to make sure there isn’t more going on than initially believed.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) September 6, 2019
Baez will have the MRI Saturday in Chicago. Don’t expect him to be back in lineup until Sunday at earliest, if he’s able to return for this series at all.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) September 6, 2019
Baez had X-rays done Sunday. Results came back negative for any structural damage. MRI scheduled when discomfort persisted post swelling. Planned to play Thursday, but felt it during pregame BP.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) September 6, 2019
That’s basically the whole story. Of course the Cubs could use Javy’s glove and bat in the lineup, but if he’s not 100 percent, it’s worth finding out what’s going on. Hopefully it’s only another couple days.
News item No. 2:
I can confirm that Danny Hultzen is getting called up by the Chicago #Cubs.— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) September 7, 2019
This is a great story. Danny Hultzen was the Mariners’ No. 1 pick in 2011. Eight years ago. That’s the same first round that produced Javier Baez, Francisco Lindor, Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer, George Springer, Anthony Rendon and several other good MLB players. But Hultzen’s career was derailed by injuries and a couple of shoulder surgeries. He was out of baseball entirely in 2017. The Cubs signed him to a minor-league deal before 2018. He didn’t pitch much last year, or early in 2019, but in 14 appearances for Triple-A Iowa this year he has struck out 23 in 14⅓ innings, though with a fairly high walk rate (5.7). He’s touched 97 miles per hour and, as a lefthander, could help out this bullpen the rest of the year.
Activating Hultzen will require a 40-man roster move, which will be announced later today. I would expect it to be Randy Rosario, who had some success at the MLB level last year, but not so much this season, and his year at Iowa wasn’t that great either. You’d figure if the club thought Rosario could help them at the MLB level, he’d be with the Cubs now.
As always, we await developments.
Meanwhile, the series in Milwaukee will continue Saturday evening. Yu Darvish will start for the Cubs and Gio Gonzalez will go for the Brewers. Game time is 6:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be on WGN.