BREAKING

Cubs drop series finale despite Suzuki's bomb


by - Senior Writer -
Quinn Harris - USA Today Sports
Quinn Harris - USA Today Sports

CHICAGO - You have got to hand it to the Chicago Cubs (2-1) this weekend as they entertained the Wrigley Field fans. Say what you want about this team and their moves this offseason, but give credit where credit is due. This season, David Ross and his group are not expected to be a playoff team, but if their first series against the Milwaukee Brewers (1-2) is any indication, they could be better than most people think.

Although not technically a sweep with Friday's contest rained out, the Cubs turned to Marcus Stroman on Sunday as he looked to lock down the series sweep. Stroman was good, but not great as the right-hander allowed a solo home run in the fourth, but managed to get through five innings with three walks and three strikeouts. He left with the lead and put himself in a position to win before the bullpen let the Brewers steal one 5-4.

What stands out the most about this first series is how different the Cubs approach at the plate looks. That is what happens when a new hitting coach comes in as they looked to solve Freddie Peralta, who dominated them last season. Just like against Brandon Woodruff on Saturday, the Cubs jumped on Peralta early as he allowed three runs in just four innings of work. Peralta also walked four and struck out six as his command was spotty at times.

Take away his first inning, and Peralta was strong as all three of the Cubs runs off him came in the first inning. Not only did Rafael Ortega show great patience all game and lead things off with a walk, but Jonathan Villar followed as the Cubs had a pair of runners on with one out.

Alfonso Rivas singled after the Villar walk, but Ortega's costly, caught stealing attempt prevented the Cubs from scoring, at least for now. Looking to build off his three-RBI game on Saturday, Seiya Suzuki connected to left-center for his first career homer, giving the Cubs a quick 3-0 lead. Suzuki has been everything the Cubs have been hoping for and more so far, as he finished his first series with the team with one homer and six RBIs.

Despite Stroman's early struggles, he was able to pitch around trouble which is crucial to his overall success. For the Cubs, they kept the pressure on Peralta, but after wasting a Yan Gomes double in the second, the team left a valuable scoring chance on the board, which would have consequences later.

Still holding a 3-0 lead in the third inning, the Brewers finally got on the board when Willy Adames crushed a Stroman pitch to dead center, pulling the Brewers within 3-1. That would be the lone run Stroman would allow as it was time for the bullpen to take over in the sixth.

First out was Jesse Chavez, who returned to the team for the first time since 2018. Following his great spring, Chavez ended up making the team, but his first outing of the season would be one to forget. Not only did he walk Adames to lead things off, but Christian Yelich followed that up with an RBI double to pull the Brewers within 3-2.

Two batters later saw Rowdy Tellez drive one over the right-center field fence to give the Brewers a 4-3 lead and took Stroman off his path to win his Cubs debut. Daniel Norris finished that inning, but the damage was already done as the Cubs came to bat in the sixth.

Clint Frazier worked a walk with two down and then would advance to second on a Patrick Wisdom fielder's choice. Two wild pitches later, it was Frazier coming home to score, making things 4-4. That tie was short-lived as Mike Brosseau took Norris deep for the solo shot to put Milwaukee in front for good 5-4.

Looking to pull even against Brad Boxberger in the bottom half of the seventh, Nico Hoerner got things started in a positive manner single to lead things off. After stealing second base to put him in scoring position, Hoerner would advance to third on a groundout with Villar coming to bat. This was the play of the game as Villar bounced one over Boxberger's head and was thrown out trying to slide into first ahead of the throw. Ross challenged the play, and it was upheld as the Brewers maintained a 5-4 lead.

The final two innings were a classic case of the battle of the bullpens with David Robertson and Mychal Givens finishing things off for the Cubs and Devin Williams and Josh Hader going for Milwaukee. Neither team got much of anything going, which was a problem as the Cubs fell to the Brewers 5-4. With his save, Hader has now thrown 17 innings at Wrigley Field with 6BB/31K and has yet to allow a run.

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