This game started feeling very, very familiar in the late innings. The Cubs took a ninth-inning lead after playing very well against a tough Brewers starter. Then David Robertson came on to finish things off in the bottom of the ninth.
Monday, that didn’t work — but in the series finale Wednesday afternoon, it did. Robertson dispatched the Brewers 1-2-3 and thus P.J. Higgins’ RBI double in the top of the ninth won the game for the Cubs 2-1.
Higgins was not the only Cubs hero in this one, though, so let’s head back to the beginning of the game.
We knew this would not be an easy task, facing Brewers ace Corbin Burnes. And indeed, Burnes was very tough on the Cubs for seven strong innings, allowing just three hits and a walk with 10 strikeouts.
But Adrian Sampson nearly matched Burnes. He allowed just four hits, departing with two out in the sixth. The only real mistake he made was to Keston Hiura in the fifth, and Hiura slammed a ball out of the yard for a 1-0 Milwaukee lead.
Sampson’s been really good in his starts this year. He’s certainly earned a longer look. Here are his five Ks on the afternoon [VIDEO].
Brandon Hughes finished up the sixth and Chris Martin threw a scoreless seventh, though not until after putting a pair of runners on base. Here’s the out that ended that inning [VIDEO].
Martin’s been really good lately. Perhaps he can be traded for something of value.
The Cubs tied up the game in the top of the eighth. With one out, Christopher Morel tripled off Brad Boxberger [VIDEO].
Look how close that came to being a game-tying home run:
Morel came thiiiiis close to a homer in 8th. Legged out a triple. pic.twitter.com/OAC2ZchUzJ— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 6, 2022
Look how hard that ball was hit!
Seiya Suzuki followed, pinch-hitting for Andrelton Simmons (who earlier had doubled, his first XBH of the season). It looked like another chance for Suzuki to be a hero. He walked. Instead, Rafael Ortega would be the hero in this situation [VIDEO].
So now the game’s tied 1-1. Mychal Givens allowed a leadoff single in the last of the eighth, but ended the inning with this K [VIDEO].
Ninth inning, the Cubs facing Josh Hader for the second time in three days. Patrick Wisdom worked a four-pitch walk — just the ninth walk he had issued in 103 batters faced this year. You could tell something was just a bit off with Hader. After Nelson Velázquez struck out, Yan Gomes batted for Alfonso Rivas. During that at-bat, Wisdom stole second. That turned out to be important, because up came Higgins with a runner in scoring position [VIDEO].
Does Wisdom score from first on that hit? Probably, but... it was a lot easier for him to score from second.
Morel was up next and nearly hit a ball out of the yard off Hader:
Yikes, a 402-foot out with a .930 xBA — meaning 93 percent of the time, that’s a hit of some kind. And off a 98 mile per hour pitch!
That ended the inning, and in came Robertson. This one was a lot easier than Monday’s game, a 1-2-3 frame for Robertson on just 13 pitches. Here’s the final out [VIDEO].
The Cubs had their series win, their fourth in a row, three of them (Cardinals, Red Sox, Brewers) against good, playoff-contending teams. In fact, looking at the single loss in all four of those series, the Cubs could have, with a bit of luck, won all of them and be on a long winning streak at this point. Does this mean the Cubs as constituted now are a good, playoff-contending team? Of course it doesn’t, but... remember, they have gone on this run, now nine wins in their last 14, without three of their top starting pitchers and with one top hitter (Suzuki) missing for all but the last three games.
There are quality players on this team, including young guys like Morel, Velázquez and even Suzuki, who’s only 27 and a hot hitter since returning from the injured list. That bodes well for the future. In the meantime, this team is playing solid, enjoyable baseball.
This was a really satisfying win and series and the Cubs thus took a 7-6 lead in the 13 games played so far against Milwaukee this year (they only won four from the Brewers all of 2021). It’ll no doubt be a happy flight for the Cubs to Los Angeles to begin a four-game series against the Dodgers Thursday evening. Mark Leiter Jr., who threw so well in an emergency relief appearance against Boston last Saturday, will get the start against the guy who might well be the NL All-Star starting pitcher in a couple of weeks, Tony Gonsolin. Game time Thursday is 9:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.