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Brewers 6, Cubs 5: Irritating

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That was... not good.

This looks painful. That sums up today’s game
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs lost to the Brewers 6-5 in 10 innings Saturday, the first time this year they’ve lost consecutive games.

Almost everything about this game was, as the headline says, irritating, and so the complaint department is wide open.

The Cubs went out to an early 3-0 lead that included this home run by Anthony Rizzo [VIDEO].

Rizzo later had an RBI double and so did Ian Happ and things were looking pretty good.

But the Cubs frittered that lead away largely due to some poor defensive play — that’s something that’s fortunately been rare this year, but the bad defense (including a ball not stopped by Javier Baez and a ball that glanced off Jason Kipnis’ glove, neither of which resulted in an error being charged) reminds us of how important solid defense is. Summed up very well here:

It spoiled a reasonably good emergency start by Colin Rea, who was charged with three of the Brewers runs. It occurs to me, further, that both Baez and Willson Contreras, who have been scuffling, could use a day off, especially with doubleheaders coming up. Perhaps David Ross will do that tomorrow.

Another issue: The Cubs had Adrian Houser on the ropes after four innings. He’d thrown 82 pitches and if the Cubs had grinded out some at-bats in the fifth they might have gotten him out of the game, important when several of the Brewers’ high-leverage relievers likely weren’t available. Instead they went up hacking, making three outs on four pitches and Houser survived the fifth. This allowed Craig Counsell to bring in Brent Suter for two-plus innings, from the sixth into the eighth, and the Cubs have never quite been able to solve Suter’s quick-pitch delivery very well. Suter allowed three hits, but struck out five and allowed no runs.

Right after Counsell lifted Suter for Corey Knebel, Steven Souza Jr. rewarded his manager placing him in the game two innings earlier to bat for DH Victor Caratini by hitting a game-tying home run [VIDEO].

That was gratifying to see, because Souza has really scuffled so far this season. He entered the game 2-for-15 with seven strikeouts. The Cubs need him to be a big hitter off the bench. Hopefully this is the start of something good. It was his 71st career home run, but first since September 30, 2018. It wasn’t hit that hard and didn’t go that far — but it counted just the same:

Jeremy Jeffress, who’s been outstanding this year, threw a 1-2-3 ninth but allowed a double to Avisail Garcia with the runner on second in the top of the 10th, the first run he’s allowed this year, and the Brewers plated one more later in the inning.

Albert Almora Jr., who entered the game defensively for Schwarber in the top of the 10th, thus became the placed runner and scored on a fly ball and a groundout. All that accomplished, though, was to make this game a one-run loss instead of a two-run loss.

Another alternative to that could have been: Have Baez try to steal second in the ninth before the two-strike pitch he did run on. If he’s safe he’s on second with Schwarber still batting — if he’s out to end the inning, he’d have been the placed runner and then maybe you keep Schwarber in the game.

About the only thing that worked out right from this game was the Cubs’ choice to move the game from 7:15 p.m. CT to 2:20 p.m. CT, because it ended not long before a large thunderstorm cluster is supposed to hit the area around Wrigley Field. A game with a 7:15 start would have been delayed. So the game time change was definitely the right call.

And now, perhaps my biggest complaint of the afternoon.

I really, truly wasn’t going to mention Mark Grace again, but after his appearance Saturday, I feel I must. Not only was it difficult to listen to his screechy voice and non sequiturs, but he told a story about his ex-wife that I found offensive. Is this what Marquee really wants on its air? This sums it up for me:

As I’ve written before, I grant Grace his lifetime status as “beloved former Cub.” Now please, Marquee, get him off the air. He adds nothing to the broadcast and in fact, makes it difficult to watch for those middle three innings. Ryan Dempster adds insight and humor. Grace is just bad. This isn’t anything new, either — he was bad when he was a game analyst for Fox Sports Arizona. Enough already.

The Cubs and Brewers will wrap their four-game set Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field as the Cubs try to salvage a series split. Jon Lester will start for the Cubs and Josh Lindblom will go for the Brewers. Game time is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.