Well, I think it’s safe to say that the Milwaukee Brewers have the Cubs’ numbers this season, wouldn’t you?
Tonight, Marco Estrada‘s second season victory was secured as the hard-swinging Brewers came up big in the ninth inning. It was Milwaukee’s 11th victory over the Northsiders in 2012, and the second most runs they have scored all season.
If you were watching the game from the beginning, it did not look like a contest that would be decided by a nine-run differential. Milwaukee scored early on a double by – who else? – Aramis Ramirez that plated Ryan Braun from first base. Aside from that, Justin Germano let go of a few hits early but largely stayed out of trouble from a Milwaukee offense that was seeing the ball well.
Marco Estrada put together an admirable performance despite giving up three runs in only five innings of work. He managed to fan eight batters on his way to a victory, while giving up three walks and three runs – all of which were unearned. His early exit was due in large part to the third inning, which came on consecutive batters after Rickie Weeks committed a fielding error trying to catch David DeJesus on a steal. The inning saw two of Estrada’s three walks, but in the fourth he recovered in the best way possible, by striking out the side on 12 pitches. He would pitch the fifth cleanly, and give way to Kameron Loe in the sixth inning who would give up Chicago’s fourth and final run.
But the Brew Crew was just getting warmed up.
In the following innings, Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez would put the finishing touches on the game, and arguably their best offensive performance of the year. The pair would collectively go 7-11 at the dish with three home runs, nine RBI’s and five runs scored.
Nowhere was this more evident than in the final inning at Wrigley. The situation was already dangerous
with Milwaukee’s lead off hitter, Norichika Aoki up to the plate. He would walk, and Rickie Weeks would hit a single to put men on first and second with no outs and a two-run lead. Ryan Braun promptly took the second fastball over the Ivy and sent in three runs, which would be followed by two more home runs by Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart in succession. The bases were empty, the pitcher was changed, and Milwaukee now sat with an extremely comfortable 11-4 lead and still no outs.
But Milwaukee continued to pile on. Jonathan Lucroy would walk and get sent to second on a Carlos Gomez single. The pair advanced on a wild pitch, and suddenly it was time for Milwaukee’s number eight hitter to make his mark in the ninth with no outs. He would single and drive in both runs, and bring himself to second base on a rare throwing error by Starlin Castro.
Cody Ransom took pity on the Cubs by grounding out. The Brewers batted around in the ninth, with Aoki drawing his second walk of ninth and Rickie Weeks owning the second out, a strikeout on a called fastball. Ryan Braun decided three RBI’s in the ninth wasn’t enough, so he plated Jean Segura on a single and put Aoki at second. Ramy would not get a second chance in the ninth.
Instead, that honor went to Jeff Bianchi. Bianchi continued his improved performance with an RBI single, the first of his Major League career.
By the time Martin Maldonado would ground out to end the inning, there had been three pitching changes, three walks, eight hits, nine runs scored, an error and one wild pitch. That’s more than most managers have to deal with in a whole game.
Livan Hernandez would lead the team of substitutes out for the ninth, which ended with two strikeouts and a groundout to third. In total, the Brewers pitching staff struck out 15 Cubs and didn’t give up a hit after the sixth inning.
The team will be hard pressed to continue on a performance that saw them go 6-17 with men in scoring position, draw three walks and hit a staggering five home runs. Regardless of that, the Brewers will try to get Yovani Gallardo his fourth consecutive win as he takes on Travis Wood at Wrigley. Game time is set for 7:05.