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‘This one’s on me today’: Late Cubs error spoils Counsell’s return to Milwaukee

4 weeks agoTony Andracki

MILWAUKEE — As Craig Counsell fielded questions about his return to Milwaukee, he tried to downplay the hubbub and reiterated that he is focusing more on helping his team pick up some wins.

Counsell called it like he sees it ahead of the series: The Brewers came into the week playing well and the Cubs did not.

That trend continued for one more day as the Cubs could not give Counsell the return he was hoping for.

The Brewers pushed across a run on a Nick Madrigal error in the bottom of the 8th inning to break a 0-0 tie and went on to win 5-1 over Counsell’s Cubs Monday at American Family Field.

Mark Leiter Jr. has been the Cubs’ relief ace all season but endured his second straight tough outing after allowing 4 runs and picking up the loss Saturday night in St. Louis.

Leiter allowed a leadoff single and then walked the next batter to start the 8th inning before Milwaukee catcher William Contreras pulled a hard-hit ground ball to third base. Madrigal was unable to field the hop and the ball caromed off his leg and into left field, allowing the game’s first run to score.

To be sure, Contreras’ grounder was a rocket, clocked at 104.9 mph.

“I thought it was going to take a little bit higher hop but it just stayed down,” Madrigal said. “I knew it was hit well. Definitely frustrating in that moment. A play I have to make.

“This one’s on me today for sure. Just gotta keep working and come back tomorrow and be ready to go.”

After a Christian Yelich strikeout, Hayden Wesneski relieved Leiter and promptly gave up a 3-run homer to Willy Adames to open the game up.

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It was the Cubs’ 5th straight loss and they are back at .500 on the season (27-27) for the first time since April 1.

It was the 8th game this month where the Cubs scored 1 or 0 runs. This lineup has averaged 3.3 runs per game in May as they’ve compiled a 9-15 record.

A lot of that is due to the last couple of weeks, where the Cubs have scored just 2.5 runs per game in their past 13 contests. 

Monday, the Cubs had only 6 baserunners in the game — 5 singles and a walk. A Patrick Wisdom sacrifice fly in the top of the 9th inning plated the only run.

“We talked about margin for error and certainly when you’re in this low-run-scoring environment that it’s felt like it’s been for us on the offensive side for a couple of weeks now,” Counsell said. “That’s how it works. Your mistakes are gonna hurt you bad. It’s easy to point to the 8th inning, but we had 0 runs to the 8th inning, too. So I think we all bear responsibility for that.”

The positive for the Cubs on Memorial Day was a return to form for ace Justin Steele.

It has been a tough first couple months for Steele, who missed time with a hamstring injury and has struggled to find consistent success in his return.

Monday was a vintage performance from the 2023 Cy Young candidate as Steele tossed 7 shutout innings, allowing only 3 singles and a walk while striking out 8 Brewers.

“That’s the most frustrating part. The pitchers are doing their part and our bats are not doing enough,” Madrigal said. “They’re keeping us right there. We just got to keep working. It’s a lot of games left. It’s a huge series and we just got to keep working and come back ready to go tomorrow.”

The Cubs continue the series with the Brewers Tuesday night. Coverage begins on Marquee Sports Network at 5:30 p.m.

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