Give this undermanned Cubs team some credit. They came from behind to tie it early, another time to take the lead in Saturday’s game in Milwaukee and yet again to tie it in the late innings.
Justin Steele put the Cubs behind by serving up a home-run ball to Manny Piña in the second inning.
But those pesky Cubs got that run right back in the third. Steele began the rally with his first MLB hit, a line-drive single to center [VIDEO].
That one also took away a concern of mine, that Corbin Burnes, who nearly no-hit Cleveland a week prior, might do the same to the Cubs. Also:
Justin Steele, on his first career hit in the Majors:— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) September 19, 2021
"If they get rid of the DH next year, I can always say I have a big league hit. I was really excited to do that, especially off somebody like Corbin Burnes. Everybody sees the year he's had. He's unbelievable."
I think Steele meant “get rid of pitchers hitting,” but you get the idea.
Anyway, after Rafael Ortega singled and Frank Schwindel struck out, Ian Happ singled to load the bases.
Another homer off Steele, this one by Eduardo Escobar, gave Milwaukee a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third.
The Cubs took a 3-2 lead in the fifth. With two out, Schwindel singled and Happ put a baseball in the seats [VIDEO].
That lead didn’t last long. A double by Christian Yelich and single by Luis Urias in the bottom of the fifth tied things 3-3 off Adbert Alzolay, who had relieved Steele. A home run by Jace Peterson off Alzolay in the sixth gave Milwaukee a 4-3 lead.
But once again, the Cubs came back. With two out in the seventh, Willson Contreras launched a baseball nearly all the way out of American Family Field [VIDEO].
That ball was demolished!
Now it’s 4-4. Can the Cubs hold the Brewers down?
They did, for an inning. Milwaukee didn’t score in the seventh. The Cubs couldn’t score in the eighth. Scott Effross, who has been quite effective this month, entered to throw the bottom of the eighth.
Unfortunately, Effross threw an 0-2 slider right down the middle of the strike zone and Piña smashed it for his second home run of the game. The Brewers added another run later in the inning for a 6-4 lead.
The Cubs got a couple of runners on with one out against Josh Hader. That’s pretty good! There might actually be a chance here with Contreras at bat.
This is where I’d usually try to defend the Cubs player and criticize the plate umpire but, Willson, that was a strike:
That’s exactly why Josh Hader is so good. His motion is deceptive enough that a pitch like that looks like it’s out of the zone. As you can see (pitch 6), it was perfectly located. Sorry, Willson.
That was the second out of the inning. Patrick Wisdom was the next hitter, so yes, the Cubs still had a chance, especially when Happ and Trayce Thompson executed a double steal. Now it would take just a single to tie the game.
But Hader struck out Wisdom and that, as the saying goes, was that.
Again, give the Cubs credit, they played a good game against a very good team. It just wasn’t quite good enough.
The Brewers clinched a postseason spot with the win, but since the Cardinals also won Saturday night, Milwaukee cannot clinch the NL Central title Sunday. Their magic number for that is 3, so the Cubs won’t have to see a clinching celebration Sunday afternoon.
The Cubs do have a chance to salvage one game in this series, the final meeting with the Brewers for 2021. Adrian Sampson will start for the Cubs and Eric Lauer is the scheduled starter for Milwaukee. Game time is 1:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network. Today’s game preview will post at 11:30 a.m. CT.