Despite what Cole Hamels may believe, the rivalry between the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs is real and it’s extremely tense. The latest flare-up came on Saturday afternoon after five players were hit by pitches over the course of a 9-0 Cubs victory.
Earlier in the game, Willson Contreras was once again hit by a pitch, the 15th time the Brewers have hit him in his career. Contreras was upset again, despite it clearly being unintentional from Woodruff, who already was struggling with putting too many men on base in the game.
The Cubs continued to jump out to a big lead and then in the 7th inning, Ian Happ ends up getting hit by a pitch right on the top of the knee on a 1-2 slider and was down for a few minutes before leaving the game.
The very next inning, after the Brewers got around to the top of the order with the veteran Andrew McCutchen with two outs, Cubs reliever Keegan Thompson deliberately throws his fastball way inside three times until he finally plunks McCutchen.
McCutchen, knowing that this plunking was intentional, took exception to the way Keegan Thompson handled the situation. Thompson was ejected.
The benches cleared between the Brewers and Cubs after Andrew McCutchen was intentionally hit by a pitch.
As McCutchen was clearly upset and yelling at Thompson, the Brewers came out of the dugout to exchange some words, and the Cubs came out of theirs to exchange some words back. Jason Heyward charged in from the outfield to say some words himself.
No punches were thrown and cooler heads prevailed, but it’s clear the two teams are not happy with each other right now.
McCutchen explained his side of the story after the game.
McCutchen, a veteran, knew he was likely to get hit with a pitch and took exception to the way Thompson went about it. Typically, you would just hit a guy on the first pitch and if Thompson did so, McCutchen would’ve had no issue and just simply taken his base.
Instead, Thompson spun in a cutter on the outside corner to start, making it appear like he was going to pitch to him. Then, Thompson followed with three straight two-seamers aimed at McCutchen’s ribs, which McCutchen argued was a strategy intended to hurt him and not just hit him.
This isn’t the first time this has happened between the Brewers and Cubs recently. Last year, after Contreras was hit in another Brandon Woodruff start, Cubs reliever Ryan Tepera intentionally threw a pitch at Woodruff when he came up to bat, triggering another incident between these two teams.
As much as the Brewers have hit the Cubs with pitches recently, the Cubs have hit the Brewers almost the same amount of times. The difference is, the Brewers aren’t intentionally throwing at the Cubs, but the Cubs retaliate by intentionally throwing at the Brewers.
The Brewers prefer getting their payback by winning the games on the field, although they haven’t done that to this point in 2022. Perhaps this incident will fire up the bats enough to score some runs in the series finale on Sunday.