Jeremy Jeffress didn’t cover first, Wade Davis got out of a bases-loaded jam and Kris Bryant crushed a go-ahead 2-run homer in extra innings.
Not bad for the last day of Summer.
The Cubs 5-3 victory in Milwaukee on Thursday night was more intense than advertised, and likely more wild than fans of either side would’ve liked. For 10 innings the Brewers and Cubs traded off pressure-filled moments as Milwaukee looked to gain on Chicago’s 3.5 game lead in the National League Central. Instead the Cubs walked away with a thrilling victory in the opener of a four-game series against their division rivals.
And Jeffress is about to feel the heat for it.
With the Brewers up 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, the Milwaukee reliever couldn’t make it off the mound quick enough to cover first base on Ian Happ’s leadoff single. Happ was safe by inches at best and a challenge by the Brewers confirmed it. That on its own wasn’t too terrible, especially with Jeffress recovering to get Addison Russell and Alex Avila back-to-back.
But with two outs and two strikes on Javier Baez, Jeffrees couldn’t hold on any longer. Baez ripped a single through the infield which sent Happ flying home.
Tie game. And not even close to the end of it.
A single by Neil Walker forced the Cubs to summon Wade Davis from the bullpen, who promptly hit Ryan Braun with a pitch before allowing a Travis Shaw single. Not even bases loaded with one out could save the Brewers. Davis came back to get Domingo Santana on a swinging strikeout and induced an easy grounder from Orlando Arcia to escape the inning.
Bryant stepped up for his two-run shot in the top of the 10th and it proved to be more than enough with Davis coming back out onto the mound for the save.
This is going to hurt for Brewers fans and there’s really no way around it. Instead of closing the gap to win the Central, Milwaukee watched the Cubs’ magic number drop to six and fell 1.5 games back of the Colorado Rockies for the final Wild Card spot in the NL — St. Louis also won on Thursday night putting it just a half game behind the Brewers in the Wild Card race.
After Wednesday’s 6-4 defeat in Pittsburgh, this makes for back-to-back brutal losses for a Milwaukee team that had won nine of it’s last 13 games coming into the Chicago series. Two weeks ago the Brewers swept the Cubs at Wrigley. It didn’t seem impossible to topple the reigning champs on the road.
Now it’s starting to.
Fall is officially here and the Cubs are up to their old tricks again. The Brewers, meanwhile, well they’ve got some work to do.
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