Mike Friers on fire as Cubs fall to Brewers
Veteran catcher Miguel Montero led off the bottom of the ninth with a single to center field, but would not advance from first base as Brewers’ closer Francisco Rodriguez struck out the final three batters, handing the Chicago Cubs a 6-1 loss at Wrigley Field.
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Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun got his team on the board with Cubs’ (13-9) ace Jake Arrieta on the mound with a two-run shot to center field, making it a 2-0 ballgame in the top of the first inning. Arrieta (3-2, 2.84 ERA) would exit the game after five innings as the Brewers (6-18) drove in four runs (all earned) on seven hits and one walk despite striking out six times.
It was definitely a surprising performance from Arrieta, who has emerged as the teams ace after Jon Lester‘s slow start in April. The Brewers extended their lead to 4-0 in the top half of the second on a pair of RBI singles from both center fielder Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura.
There would be an injury delay after Gomez lifted a hit into right field when Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell had a nasty run in which sent Chicago’s rookie second baseman tumbling onto his head. Both Gomez and Segura would put themselves in scoring position by stealing multiple bases – Gomez stole second and third before coming into score while Segura slid into second safely with Braun at the plate.
Brewers’ starter Mike Friers had Chicago’s number yet again by taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning. The Cubs recorded their first hit of the day on a single by left fielder Chris Denorfia. Friers (1-3, 4.74 ERA) had his best outing of the young season, holding Chicago to just one earned run on three hits, two walks, and 12 strikeouts.
First baseman Rizzo finally put the Cubs on the board in the bottom of the sixth with a solo home run to center field, making it a 4-1 ballgame.
After Jason Motte was able to escape the top of the sixth after issuing a walk to Khris Davis, Gonzalez Germen took over in the seventh. Germen gave up a leadoff double to Gerardo Parra, who would come around to score on a standing triple by Segura after Braun was intentionally walked.
Things eventually got worse for the Cubs when Logan Schafer stepped into the batters box in the top half of the ninth. Shafer would reach on a throwing error by shortstop Starlin Castro and ended up coming around to score the final run on another error by Rizzo who tried to throw him out on his way to third base.
What Stood Out:
Yesterday Lester was able to work seven scoreless innings while limiting the Brewers to just three hits until handing the rest of the workload to the bullpen. Today against Fiers and the Brewers, Chicago managed to record only five hits compared to the visiting teams nine while striking out a total of 15 times.
This mark set a season high for Chicago strikeouts and it almost felt like spring training all over again. Third baseman Kris Bryant led the team in this category, finishing the day 0-for-4 with as many strikeouts.
Tomorrow they have an opportunity to redeem themselves in the series finale.
The Chicago Cubs will send Jason Hammel to the mound in hopes of at least winning the series from this last-place Milwaukee Brewers club. Hammel (2-1, 3.55 ERA) is coming off his second win of the season after working eight scoreless innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates at home.
Pittsburgh was held to just four hits while Hammel punched out seven batters in the 4-0 win.
Young right-hander Jimmy Nelson will pick up the start for Milwaukee. Nelson (1-2, 4.03 ERA) was chased after 2 1/3 frames in his previous start by the Cincinnati Reds as he surrendered seven earned runs on six hits while issuing five walks. Not quite the performance he was looking for and he’ll definitely have his hands full tomorrow afternoon with this team who has only lost two games in a row once this season.
First pitch is slated for 1:20 pm central time and will be aired live on both WGN, MLBN and WBBM 780.