Two days after suffering their worst gut-punch loss of the season, the Cubs pulled one out with a thrilling three-run ninth and won by one run for the second straight game, 4-3 over the Brewers in Milwaukee.
That was primarily thanks to a terrific eight-pitch at-bat by Mike Tauchman with two runners on base, after which he doubled in the tying runs and then scored the eventual winning run on a Brewers error.
Whew! Let’s rewind to the beginning of this one.
After the first two innings were scoreless, the Cubs got on the board first, in the top of the third. Tauchman was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a missed pickoff throw that got away, then to third on a single by Seiya Suzuki.
The Brewers tied the game off Justin Steele in the bottom of the third and took the lead in the sixth. Willy Adames homered and a single and stolen base by the guy you’d never heard of before Monday, Jahmai Jones, led to another run on an RBI single by Brian Anderson.
Justin Steele wound up with a quality start, but that’s kind of a low bar for him. It was only the fourth time in 16 starts this year that he had allowed three or more runs. Still, it wasn’t a bad outing — he didn’t walk anyone and struck out five.
But the Cubs bats went silent after the third. They did get a couple runners on base in the fifth, but Dansby Swanson hit into an inning-ending double play, the second time he’d done that on the evening. And that one led to him leaving the game. Here’s what happened:
Ross said Swanson tweaked his heel when he hit first base running up the line in the 5th inning. Will not be in Thursday's lineup, but will be reevaluated in the morning to gauge his availability.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 6, 2023
Hopefully this isn’t more than a one-day thing. Nico Hoerner moved to shortstop, with Christopher Morel switching from third to second and Patrick Wisdom taking over at third, and I’d expect those to be the positions in Thursday’s series finale.
Anyway, after the Brewers took the lead, the Cubs went down in order in the seventh and eighth.
Michael Rucker, meanwhile, issued three walks in two innings of work, but held the Brewers scoreless in those innings. That turned out to be very, very important.
So the Cubs entered the ninth down by two, with Brewers closer Devin Williams on the mound. Coming into this game Williams had 18 saves and only one blown save.
Cody Bellinger led off with a single, and one out later Jared Young also singled. Yan Gomes grounded out, with both runners advancing.
That brought up Tauchman. After four straight foul balls, this happened [VIDEO].
The look on Tauchman’s face after that double — I think this is why we all love baseball so much. Here’s a guy who’s been a journeyman outfielder for several seasons, let go by three other teams, now playing for the team he grew up rooting for as a kid. Guys dream about situations like this. I couldn’t be happier for him.
Nico Hoerner then grounded to third and it looked like the game was going to the bottom of the ninth still tied — but wait! [VIDEO].
Tauchman scored the lead run. Nico was caught in a pickle and ruled to have run out of the baseline and was out, but the Cubs had the lead.
Adbert Alzolay entered to preserve that lead, and he did so 1-2-3, at times hitting 98 miles per hour. That’s the guy I thought the Cubs had as a possible closer, and he really embraced that role in this game. He struck out the first two hitters he faced, and here’s the final out [VIDEO].
How rare was this win?
The Cubs pull out a 4-3 win over Milwaukee after trailing 3-1 entering the ninth inning. Per @ESPNStatsInfo: The Cubs had lost 112 consecutive games in which they trailed by multiple runs in the 9th inning or later. That was 2nd-longest active streak in MLB. Wild series so far.— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) July 6, 2023
How much have the Cubs pulled together as a team?
ADBERT just shutting the door. Never a doubt— Justin Steele (@J_Steele21) July 6, 2023
As I’ve been saying for a long time — the Cubs have had a closer all along in Alzolay. That was just his fifth save of the year — here’s hoping for many more.
Justin Steele said he made sure he went back to the dugout for the 9th:— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 6, 2023
"It just kind of seemed like we weren’t done. I felt like that was just a good team win, man. I think that might’ve been my favorite win of the season. That was awesome."
I think it was my favorite win of the year, too, as headlined. The Cubs looked like they were going to sink further into fourth place with a dispiriting defeat. Instead, with the Pirates losing Wednesday, the Cubs return to third place in the N.L. Central. They still trail the Reds by seven games (and are now six behind the third wild-card spot), but after a win like this, perhaps you can see a tiny bit of light at the end of the tunnel. And if the Cubs do wind up in this year’s postseason, you can look at the last two games as the place where that playoff run began.
The Cubs will go for the series win Thursday afternoon in Milwaukee behind Marcus Stroman. Freddy Peralta will start for the Brewers. Game time is 1:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network (and MLB Network outside the Cubs and Brewers market territories). I’m heading up I-94 to attend this game and will report from Milwaukee later today.