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Red-hot Brewers continue winning ways, take opener over Cubs in pivotal series

9 months agoAndy Martinez

The Cubs have been one of the hottest and best teams in August.

Monday night at Wrigley Field, they ran into one of the few who have been better — and unfortunately for the Cubs, it came in the opener of a pivotal series.

The red-hot Brewers won their 9th straight game, beating the Cubs 6-2, taking the first of a 3-game set and widening the gap in the NL Central to 5 games with 31 left to play.

Milwaukee beat the Cubs doing what they’ve done throughout their winning streak — playing clean defense and riding a resilient offense. Since August 18, when the Brewers began their winning streak, they have the second-highest on-base percentage and the most walks in baseball. Monday night, the Brewers scored 4 runs in the 1st — including a solo home run from Christian Yelich on the third pitch of the game — and had a baserunner in all but 3 innings.

The Brewers ambushed Cubs’ starter Jameson Taillon from the onset — they had a comfortable 4-0 lead before the Cubs had even stepped into the batter’s box and even when the Cubs had pulled a run back, immediately scored another in the top of the 2nd.

It was just that kind of day for the Cubs.

The Cubs were 5-for-32 (.156 batting average), but had a .267 expected batting average, per Baseball Savant. The Brewers defenders were running, diving and sliding all over the place to negate any extra baserunners. The Cubs’ lone runs came on a pair of solo home runs from Ian Happ and Patrick Wisdom.

Wade Miley and the rest of the Brewers pitchers challenged the Cubs hitters to put the ball in play and turned almost every ball in play into outs. Of the Cubs’ 27 outs, just 4 were strikeouts. On the other hand, the Cubs’ normally sure-handed defense had 2 errors, both from their talented double-play combo of Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner.  

The ball that [Willy] Adames hit me, that play should get made pretty much 100 out of 100 times and they obviously take advantage of it,” Swanson said. “They were really opportunistic tonight. You gotta give them a little bit of credit for taking advantage of our mistakes. We’ll be better tomorrow.”

Monday’s opener was the beginning of a pivotal series for the Cubs if they hoped to play themselves back into the mix for the NL Central title. Now, the next two games against the Brewers will feel much like must-win games to keep hopes of a division crown in place.

“We [normally] play clean, solid defense and they did that, we didn’t,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “Two really good teams going at it. That’s kinda the story of the game. They pitched better than we did and they got more hits than we did.”

The Cubs will turn to their ace Justin Steele on Tuesday against Milwaukee who will counter with 2021 Cy Young Award winner and 3-time All-Star Corbin Burnes.

I think at the end of the day, the biggest thing for us is playing our brand of baseball,” Swanson said. “Obviously we didn’t do that tonight but I know that we’re capable of so much more.”

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