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Brewers 6, Cubs 5: Walkathon

Cubs pitchers just could not throw strikes and that was their downfall.

“We just needed a little bit more,” says Christopher Morel
Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

MILWAUKEE — You know what made me angry about this game?

It wasn’t the home runs by Christian Yelich and former Cub Victor Caratini. It wasn’t the 16 strikeouts by Cubs batters.

No, it was the seven walks issued by Cubs pitchers. Two of those walks wound up scoring, and that, my friends, was the difference in the game, a frustrating 6-5 loss.

Three Cubs relievers combined to throw 74 pitches in three innings! That’s ridiculous! That’s the equivalent of throwing 222 pitches in a nine-inning game — the MLB average is almost 100 fewer than that. Daniel Palencia, Mark Leiter Jr. and Michael Fulmer were the culprits, throwing only 44 strikes in those 74 pitches. This just isn’t winning baseball.

Marcus Stroman wasn’t much better with the walks, issuing four of them in five innings and throwing just 56 strikes in 94 pitches. That’s a total of 168 pitches by Cubs hurlers in this one, probably about 40 more than the MLB average.

If this keeps up the Cubs aren’t going anywhere. Not sure what they’re teaching them in their vaunted Pitch Lab, but if these are the results perhaps they need to give it another look.

Nevertheless, there were a few good things that happened in this game, so let’s rewind to the beginning.

The Cubs took the lead in the second inning on back-to-back doubles by Christopher Morel and Cody Bellinger. Here’s Bellinger’s double [VIDEO].

That lead held until the fifth inning. As has been the case with many Cubs games, they left RISP in several situations before that, stranding runners on third in the second and fourth, and second AND third in the third with only one out.

The Brewers broke through for a four-run fifth off Stroman, who nearly got out of the inning on Yelich’s home run, which Ian Happ came close to catching [VIDEO].

Not real close, mind you, but a few feet shorter on the hit or Happ being able to leap a bit higher...

The Cubs came right back in the sixth. Seiya Suzuki led off with a walk and one out later, Bellinger put one into the Cubs bullpen [VIDEO].

I had just mentioned in today’s game preview that Bellinger hadn’t homered since April 30. So this homer is welcome, and so was Bellinger’s 4-for-4 afternoon.

Anyway, the Cubs trailed by one after that, and then a Cubs misplay helped lead to the fifth Milwaukee run. In the bottom of the seventh, Mark Leiter Jr. walked Yelich, who then took off for second. Yan Gomes had no chance of throwing him out and sailed a throw into center field, allowing Yelich to take third. That allowed him to score on a sacrifice fly by Willy Adames. If Yelich stays at second, no run scores in the inning.

The Cubs did not quit. Suzuki singled leading off the eighth, but was erased on a double-play ball by Morel. Bellinger followed with a single, and then Gomes put one out of the yard [VIDEO].

It was LOUD after that homer in Milwaukee — I don’t know if it came across on the broadcast or on that clip, but the crowd of 33,366 was at least half Cubs fans. A very loud “Let’s go Cubbies” chant came up right after that.

Unfortunately, with one out in the eighth, old friend Caratini smacked a home run off Fulmer to give the Brewers the lead.

Trey Mancini batted for Patrick Wisdom leading off the ninth — an odd choice, I thought, but Mancini singled, putting the tying run on base. It took Joel Payamps only nine pitches to dispatch Mike Tauchman (fly to left), Nico Hoerner (strikeout) and Happ (pop to short) to end the game, a tremendously frustrating defeat.

The Cubs really needed to do better than split this series. The Reds won Thursday, so that puts the Cubs eight games out of first place. It’s not going to get any easier for them this weekend at Yankee Stadium.

Before I preview the next matchup, a personal indulgence, if you will. I went to the game today because this date is of significance to me. Sixty years ago today, Saturday, July 6, 1963, my dad took me to my very first Cubs game at Wrigley Field. That, too, was a loss, 6-0 to the Phillies. Since the Cubs weren’t home today I felt that I should be at a ballgame. Sorry I couldn’t bring the Cubs more luck.

An update on the Cubs for this weekend and the All-Star Game:

The Cubs will need to bring their best game to New York, especially Friday in the series opener at Yankee Stadium. Jameson Taillon will face his former team for the first time as a Cub. The Yankees have listed Carlos Rodón as their starter. He has been out all year with a forearm strain and back issue and hasn’t yet thrown a MLB pitch for the Yankees, so this will be an interesting matchup. Game time Friday is 6:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.