What you need to know: The Cubs took an early lead thanks to Ben Zobrist’s first home run of the season in the top of the second inning off Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson. Brett Anderson held the lead down nicely through five innings in his first Cubs start, before a wild pitch and opposite field single by Jesus Aguilar drove in Travis Shaw to tie the game at one. Both bullpens would battle it out until the bottom of the eleventh, when a wild pitch with the bases loaded would bring home the winning run for a 2-1 Brewers victory.
Next Level: While the Cubs made hard contact early on Nelson, he settled in nicely following the Zobrist home run and allowed that lone run on four hits with eight strikeouts. Anderson had a quality night of his own, surrendering one run on five hits with four punch outs in 5 2/3 innings.
This chilly, arduous Friday night in April became a war of attrition between the bullpens, as both sides looked to be in midseason form. Justin Grimm, Koji Uehara and Hector Rondon combined for 2 1/3 innings of relief, allowing just one hit between them and striking out three before Mike Montgomery took over. For the Brewers, Jacob Barnes, Carlos Torres and Neftali Feliz tossed three hitless innings before turning it over to long-man Jared Hughes.
Hughes ran into trouble, surrendering one hit and walking to, but evading trouble with the help of timely double plays. Montgomery looked terrific through two shutdown innings, but he loaded the bases and with one out in the bottom of the eleventh, threw a wild pitch, scoring Ryan Braun for the game’s winning run. In this war of attrition, Jared Hughes — and the Brewers — came out on top.
(Additional note: Jason Heyward and Javy Baez were involved in a rather scary collision on a pop fly into shallow center field; while Heyward was fine, Baez left the game with a left eye contusion, right above his left eye. Maddon removed Baez, and he’s listed as day-to-day.)
Top WPA Play:
Jesus Aguilar’s game-tying single in the bottom of the sixth proved to be the most significant moment for the Brewers, as it brought them back into the game and forced Joe Maddon to his bullpen (.165). Honorable mention goes to Montgomery’s wild pitch that brought home Ryan Braun to lead Milwaukee to victory (.164).
Bottom WPA Play:
No play left a greater dent in the game than Ben Zobrist’s bases loaded double play against Jared Hughes to end the Cubs’ potential go-ahead threat in the top of the tenth inning (-.356).
The Cubs will dust themselves off and hope to redeem themselves Saturday night against the Brewers at Miller Park, this time behind 2016 Cy Young candidate Kyle Hendricks. In ten starts (59 2/3 innings) against the Brewers, The Professor is 5-3 with a 2.11 ERA and 0.955 WHIP. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 PM CT.
Lead photo courtesy Benny Sieu—USA Today Sports