Brewers walk it off in 9th against Cubs to take series opener
David Ross spoke of his confidence of seeing Jon Lester and Craig Kimbrel bounce back Friday night against the Brewers.
“We need Jon Lester, just like we need Craig Kimbrel and these guys that have good resumes,” Ross said. “We’re gonna continue to lean on Jon and try to help him as much as we can. But I think the work he’s put in between this last start, I think will pay off in this game tonight.”
He was right. Both performed well against the Brewers, but Brandon Woodruff and the Milwaukee bullpen were just slightly stronger as they took the series opener over the Cubs 1-0 at Miller Park in walk-off fashion.
Lester showed his moxie, throwing 6 shutout innings, striking out 8 and allowing just 3 hits and a pair of walks.
“I mean it seems like this season I’ll get into situations and not pitch out of em,” Lester said. “It was nice to pitch out of some jams and you know match zeroes with the guy across the way.”
One of those jams occurred in the 5th inning. Tyrone Taylor walked and Avisaíl García singled to get runners on first and third with one out. Willson Contreras threw out García trying to steal second and then Lester struck out Keston Hiura, letting out a shout in excitement, to escape the jam and keep the game scoreless.
“That was a big situation,” Lester said. “That was a big out for me in that situation or for us in that situation. To keep putting up zeros right there was big.”
Unfortunately for the Cubs, Woodruff was just as strong.
The righty no-hit the Cubs into the 5th, and allowed just 1 hit in 7 innings of work while striking out 12.
“He pounded the zone,” Ross said. “He kept us off balance all night. That’s a number one starter, that’s a real ace. Yeah he was really good tonight.”
The Cubs held the Brewers scoreless through 8, but Ryan Braun hit a walk-off sacrifice fly to score Christian Yelich. Yelich led off the 9th with a walk against Rowan Wick and advanced to third on a Jedd Gyorko single. Jeremy Jeffress came into try and force extras, but Braun ripped a flyball to right field to win it.
Kimbrel pitched a scoreless 7th, striking out two.
“I thought Craig threw a great 7th, leverage inning,” Ross said. “I thought that was very impressive.”
Kris Bryant hit a triple in the 8th inning of Brewers’ reliever Devin Williams with two outs, but the Cubs couldn’t bring him in.
It’s felt like the Cubs have been on the wrong side of luck when it comes to the injury bug. But that may be soon turning.
Ross mentioned pitchers Tyler Chatwood and José Quintana are on their throwing programs and Quintana could return before Chatwood.
“Q is gonna be on par if not ahead of Chatty here soon, the way he’s been feeling talking to the trainers,” Ross said. “They’re coming along.”
Andrew Chafin, who the Cubs acquired at the trade deadline threw a bullpen this week and will likely throw another this weekend. Ross hopes that he can return soon.
Jason Kipnis, who has a 1.117 OPS in September hasn’t played since September 8, but Ross admitted he’s been battling with a slight injury.
“He’s dealing with a little something and I just wanna make sure he’s healthy,” Ross said. “He’s gonna be a big part of this group. He’ll be in there soon.”
New-ish bullpen arms?
Ross mentioned that both Pedro Strop and prospect Braiyln Márquez have impressed in South Bend and could potentially help the big league club before the season ends.
“[The staff in South Bend] talk about Stroppy being close or getting closer and they talk about Braylin continuing to get to a point where they think he might be able to impact us or be have the opportunity to come up and maybe impact us,” Ross said. “We’ll just have to wait and see how it goes, but I’ve got my eyes on the group that’s in front of me and I try to do the best I can here and trust the awesome organization that I have around me.”