Heyward wows, but Cubs disappoint in defeat to Brewers
|Friday, July 28, 2017, 11:11 PM- -|
MILWAUKEE – In a game that featured several defensive gaffes, one incredible defensive gem and an overall lackluster display of offense, the Milwaukee Brewers eked out a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park, pulling to within a half of a game behind the Cubs in the National League Central standings. Hindered by an up-and-down start from pitcher Jose Quintana, which saw him face several dilemmas and throw a whopping 99 pitches in just six innings, the Cubs were also inadequate at the dish, with not a single Cub batter collecting more than one hit on the evening.
Overall, Quintana's performance was solid, as the the left-hander produced a quality stat line in just his third start with the Cubs. Producing six innings of four-hit ball with six strikeouts to show for it, Quintana pitched well, but his start did not progress as smoothly as the statistics might indicate. Bailed out by several blown scoring opportunities by the Brewers, as well as an amazing home run robbery committed by Chicago right fielder Jason Heyward, Quintana could have easily given up more than the two runs that were charged to him.
Milwaukee struck first in the second inning, as second baseman Hernan Perez cracked a double to deep right with a runner on first to place Quintana into his first of several jams on the evening. In the ensuing at-bat, catcher Manny Piña brought first baseman Jesus Aguilar home on an RBI groundout to shortstop. The Brewers carried that 1-0 lead into the bottom of the fourth inning, with the Cubs not serving as much of a threat at the plate in the meantime.
Chicago collected three singles in the top of third, including one by Quintana, but, thanks in large part to a double play suffered by second baseman Javier Baez, nothing came of it for the Cubs.
Taking advantage of the Cubs' missed opportunities, the Brewers would add to their lead in the fourth but would miss out on additional scoring opportunities themselves. Loading the bases with no outs by way of small ball, the Brewers backed Quintana into a corner but were unable to fully capitalize off of it. In fact, the lone run of the fourth frame was scored simply because of misjudgment on behalf of Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, who opted for a force out at second on a ground ball when he could have easily gone home with it. Instead, Perez, who went 2-4 in the contest, scored from third to put the Brewers up by two.
Despite having the bases juiced twice in the inning and stealing two bases along the way, the Brew Crew could muster only one run in the fourth, as star slugger Ryan Braun came up small with an inning-ending popout that neutralized the scoring threat. Surprisingly, that was not the most frustrating moment of the evening for Braun, as a third-inning bomb of his was snagged by Heyward just as it was breaching the wall in right. Mere inches from being a two-run home run, the hard-hit liner resulted in the second career robbing of a Braun homer by J-Hey. Considering that a badly misplayed fly ball in center field by Chicago's Albert Almora enabled the lead runner to reach second to begin the bottom half of the third, the Cubs were lucky to escape the inning unscathed.
?????????? pic.twitter.com/Ad9k4KbJ6r— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 29, 2017
With his pitch count drastically risen following the challenging fourth inning, Quintana did not last much longer, but neither did the Brewers' hitting prowess, for that matter, as they failed to reach base after the fourth frame. The Cubs, on the other hand, took too long to warm up at the dish, not seriously threatening Milwaukee until the eighth, when Baez hit his 13th long ball of the season. A solo shot to left, the homer put the Cubs on the board and, in the end, proved to be the only offensive excitement of the contest for Chicago.
Javy Baez with a MOONSHOT! pic.twitter.com/QnymtXD2yT— CSN Chicago (@CSNChicago) July 29, 2017
The Cubs had a decent chance at tying the game up and sending it into extra innings in the bottom of the ninth, but they were unable to produce when it mattered most. Given a gift after first baseman Anthony Rizzo walked to begin the inning and proceeded to take second on a wild pitch by Brewers closer Corey Knebel, the Cubs came up short nonetheless. With a strikeout, groundout and strikeout, respectively, Chicago failed to hit the ball out of the infield after Rizzo's walk, falling to the Brewers 2-1 as a result.
A frustrating loss for the Cubs, to say the least, Chicago was inept at the plate against the divisional foe Brewers, accruing a meager five hits. Milwaukee amassed only four hits, though, instead taking advantage of one pivotal inning, as well as a quality outing by starting pitcher Brent Suter. Suter, a second-year lefty, pitched seven scoreless innings and earned the win to move to 2-1 overall. Quintana (2-1), who walked three batters to go along with four hits, was credited with the loss for his first defeat since becoming a Cub. Chicago (54-48) will aim to bounce back in the second installment of its three-game series versus Milwaukee (55-50) tomorrow night at 6:10 PM CST.