Hey, did I ever mention that Pedro Strop is the ballsiest damn pitcher on the entire 40 man roster?
Oh, yeah. I did, didn’t I?
Can someone remind me how to upload the emoji for “Vince McMahon Strut?”
This game felt like a three hour and 14 minute loop of Fred Sanford clutching his chest. Because it was the big one. After a dispiriting loss on Monday and an embarrassing one last night–along with the possibility of the Brewers cutting the division lead to a nerve-wracking two games with a sweep–the series so far had made The Bud Selig Experience only the second most depressing thing at Miller Park.
What You Need To…wait a sec…The Bud Selig Experience?
Yes. The Bud Selig Experience.
You’re shitting me.
Oh my God, it’s got a Selig hologram. The horror…The horror…
I hear he does a killer rendition of “California Love.”
Let’s pretend this conversation never happened.
What You Need to Know: First and foremost, the Cubs are leaving Miller Park with a four-game lead in the National League Central. That’s far and away the most important takeaway from tonight’s game. And a lot of people deserve credit for that.
After Jhoulys Chacin started strong with one hit over the first three frames, he extended his inexplicable scoreless streak against the Cubs to 16 innings total. The man whose first name tells the world “My parents took your dare, Jhonny Peralta” flummoxed the Cubs hitters with a near constant barrage of sliders the first time around.
But a Daniel Murphy home run opened the floodgates in a four-run fourth inning where the Cubs did most of their offensive damage for the night. More on that anon.
Jose Quintana rebounded quite nicely from his last start against Milwaukee to stand tall for 6.2 innings of two-run, five hit, and five strikeout ball. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth and a second and third, no out predicament in the sixth with only one run allowed each time. He wasn’t the utterly dominant Q in past performances at Miller Park. But he also wasn’t the hanging curveball specialist from his last encounter with the Brew Crew and that was perfectly fine this evening.
This Game Ruled! Let’s Talk Smack About the Brewers Left Fielder: The biggest upset the Brewers ever pulled was getting Ryan Braun to wear their jersey without changing their name to the Milwaukee Affliction.
Top Play (WPA): If you gave an infinite number of monkeys an infinite number of typewriters, one of them would write the complete works of Shakespeare. But another one would type up a recap of watching Javy Báez run the bases, and I think we all agree we’d rather read that.
After Murphy’s leadoff homer in the fourth, Báez lined a 1-1 high fastball to left field. Chacin immediately followed with two pick-off throws. And each time, Javy remained standing directly atop the first base bag, leading Jim Deshaies to muse “Not only is he magical, he’s psychic.”
In the business, that’s what we call “foreshadowing.”
Anthony Rizzo followed by smacking a 1-2 offering to center field. Báez was off with the crack of the bat and surprised everyone in the ballpark by steaming past second base and attempting to take third. Lorenzo Cain then unleashed a throw that sailed over two Brewers standing in the vicinity of third base.
It appeared that Cain was shocked that Javy would try to take an extra base on him. And considering Báez’s baserunning from Monday’s game, I propose that Cain’s new nickname should be “Memento.”
The ball ricocheted off the box seat railing and rolled back toward the infield as Báez picked himself up and headed home. It looked for a second like the rolling ball was in a race to beat him there by itself, but Javy passed it about halfway down the line and scored El Mago style with a headfirst slide (+.143).
But the play wasn’t over, as Rizzo appeared to get caught in a rundown between second and third. Until Orlando Arcia heaved the ball over a teammate covering third again. Rizzo would advance safely and score on a Ben Zobrist RBI double.
After last night’s debacle, @Brewers assembled a clip of lowlights that they dubbed “A Comedy of Errors.” Tonight, I’m pretty sure their fielding caused Bob Uecker to cry “Out, vile jelly!”
I’m in a Good Mood. Let’s Talk More Smack About the Brewers Left Fielder: The closest Ryan Braun ever came to a clean urine sample was when he shook Moises Alou’s hand.
Bottom Play (WPA): After late homers by Kyle Schwarber and Curtis Granderson, the Cubs took a precarious 6-4 lead in the ninth and Strop was in for the save. He proceeded to walk pinch-hitter Travis Shaw on four pitches. And a whole two of them were strikes! Or as MLB’s umpiring supervisor would put it: “a plate appearance within the margin of error.”
Craig Counsel then decided this was the time to go all in and sent up Christian Yelich to pinch hit. He lined a single to left field and the Brewers had first and second with nobody out. (-.144)
Next Level: But as we learned earlier on this very website, Pedro Strop looks at your negative WPA and laughs like someone put a burger in Jorge Soler’s Chinese food container.
Like tonight’s game, I guess you had to be there.
Counsel sent up his third consecutive giant left-handed bat off the bench in the person of the extremely giant Eric Thames. It seemed like a very wise thing to do as this season, hitters to the left are handling Strop better than ones to the right.
Of course, that’s still just a .211/.326/.316 slashline. Because it turns out he’s still pretty damn great.
Strop dispatched Thames with a pop out to center (+.130). He’d gotten the first out. Cain then grounded sharply to third base and Kris Bryant tagged the bag and threw to first. But in a carbon copy of Monday’s final play, Cain just beat his throw to Rizzo doing the full-on splits at first (+.113).
Like so many other teams before them, the Brewers gave Strop a light at the end of the tunnel. And he ran right through it, striking out Granderson on a filthy breaking ball to extract himself from the jam (+.096).
The only surprise from the inning was that Strop didn’t make it up to Bernie Brewer’s slide to finish his celebration.
Up Next: No rest for the weary, as the Cubs head to Washington DC to take on the dead-ass Nats. Jon Lester starts the series against Stephen Strasburg.
Lead photo courtesy Jeff Hanisch—USA Today Sports