Saturday night’s win over the Milwaukee Brewers might have been the Chicago Cubs’ biggest win of the season, for a few reasons.
As last night’s Chicago Cubs game was entering the late innings, I was preparing to write about how the offense seemed to have disappeared entirely during the first two games of their series with the Milwaukee Brewers. Indeed, they were shut out during the first 17 innings of this series. Friday was somewhat understandable, as Brandon Woodruff is emerging as one of the NL’s best starting pitchers, but Saturday was frustrating since it was a bullpen game for the Brewers.
And when All-Star closer Josh Hader entered the game, it looked like it would be a quick and easy ninth inning. But not so: Out of nowhere, the Cubs ambushed Hader for four runs as the team earned what might be their biggest win of the season, 4-2 at Miller Park in Milwaukee.
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It also looked like the Cubs would waste another solid outing from a starting pitcher. Kyle Hendricks put together a great outing, the only blemish being a two-run homer from Ryan Braun that was set up when Kris Bryant failed to catch a foul pop-up earlier in the at-bat. Then to start the ninth, Kyle Schwarber, with two strikes, tried to bunt to get on base but fouled out.
The struggling Javier Baez started the rally with a single, then Anthony Rizzo came off the bench with a hit to set it up for Jason Heyward. The Cubs right-fielder mashed a three-run homer to right-center field off Hader, followed by another home run from newcomer Ildemaro Vargas to make it 4-2.
Also, give credit to Craig Kimbrel, who took a big step forward in his comeback by getting out of the bottom of the ninth after allowing the first two runners to reach. Besides the fact that this was a massive win because the team came back late against a division rival, it also was big because Kimbrel was able to come through in a high-pressure situation.
The Cubs still have a three-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the NL Central, with a little over two weeks left. If indeed the team hangs on to win the division, we’ll look back on Saturday night as a signature win for this team. Let’s hope they can build some momentum off this one and make one final push to take the division.