The Milwaukee Brewrs have been in first place for 52 days. Their largest lead on the second place Chicago Cubs is their current 4 1/2-game lead. The Brewers record against the Cubs is only 4-5, but the most recent victory may be a turning point in the season for both teams.
Coming into the makeup game on July 6th, the Milwaukee Brewers had momentum on their side after taking two-out-of-three from the Marlins and sweeping the Orioles. The Cubs had just won a dramatic come-from-behind victory against the Rays on July 5th. They looked ready to turn their mediocre season around by taking the make up game against the Brewers. The game on July 6th was over before the Cubs knew what hit them.
That Big Inning
Ryan Braun started the rally with a two-run homer. Three consecutive singles scored the third run of the inning, and chased Cubs starter Mike Montgomery. Cubs manager Joe Maddon called on Jake Leathersich to stop the bleeding. He failed to do so in his Cubs debut.
Leathersich walked in a pair of runs, then surrendered a sacrifice fly to Jonathan Villar. An RBI double from Domingo Santana drove in the seventh run of the inning. By the time the dust settled, the Brewers owned a 9-0 lead.
What Happened Next
Milwaukee Brewers starter Zach Davies held the potent Chicago offense in check for most of the afternoon. He tossed six innings, and only allowed two runs. Davies gave up five hits, walked zero, and struck out three before ceding to the Brewers bullpen.
The Cubs pulled Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, and essentially surrendered. None of their key bullpen arms logged any innings. Fans were treated to Jon Jay and his 46-mph floaters in the final inning.
Why This Win Was Significant
While the Cubs may have a better won-loss record against the Brewers for now, the July 6th makeup game looks like a turning point in the season. The Cubs clearly aren’t the same team from last year. They have to rely on Mike Montgomery and Eddie Butler to log innings in the rotation. Also, none of their top starters from last year are duplicating their success from 2016.
They also appear to lack the table setters necessary for their big bats to drive in runs. Only three hitters on the Cubs have an OPS over .800.
The Chicago Cubs went 11-8 against the Milwaukee Brewers in 2016, but it’s a different story this year. The Brewers offense is clicking. They draw walks, sacrifice to get runners in or over, and have intelligent at bats. They may lack the high leverage pitching staff to make a deep playoff run, but the Brewers are clearly the better team right now.
The Brewers outclassed the Cubs in every aspect on Thursday. The win should go a long way in taking the World Championship mystique away from the Cubs in future contests against Milwaukee. They’re nine guys, just like the Brewers. The Cubs aren’t a juggernaut that rattles off wins en route to an easy division win. They’re a team just like any other.