Cubs record: 28-10
W: Travis Wood (2-0, 4.09)
L: Carlos Torres (0-1, 3.86)
S: Clayton Richard (1)
MVP: Travis Wood
If you wanted to see a game that was simultaneously good and bad, awesome and excruciating, funny and maddening, then this was the game for you.
Both teams received solid outings from their starters, as John Lackey for the Cubs and Jimmy Nelson for the Brewers pitched effectively into the latter innings.
The Brewers got on the board first thanks to a fielder’s choice ground out and it looked as if that lone run would be enough to win the game. However, the Cubs came back to tie it in the top of the ninth on an Addison Russell RBI ground out, handing Milwaukee closer Jeremy Jeffress his first blown save of the season in the process.
The game went to extras where the true wackiness began. In the bottom of the 12th, Travis Wood entered the game with two on and nobody out and proceeded to walk the first batter he faced. Not content to have the game end in such a conventional manner, Wood then induced three consecutive pop flies to escape the jam and head to the 13th.
In the top half of the inning, the Cubs would go on to load the bases with two outs and who should stroll to the plate with a chance to be a hero but Wood. With the game tied 1-1, Wood coaxed a walk to drive in the go-ahead run. The Brewers made things interesting in the bottom half of the inning, but the pitching combination of Wood, Neil Ramirez and Clayton Richard was able to record the final three outs and help Chicago walk away with an extra-inning victory.
Once again, the Cubs got a strong outing from Lackey. While he wasn’t quite as sharp as he was his last time out against San Diego (8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 7 K), Lackey battled through this one and did more than enough to keep Chicago in the game. All told, the Cubs starter went six strong innings, allowing one run on four hits and two walks while striking out five. He struggled to put hitters away in the early innings which elevated his pitch count, leading to his exit after 101 pitches.
After an up-and-down April, Lackey has quietly had an impressive month of May. In four starts this month, the veteran right-hander has gone 1-1 with a 1.86 ERA and 0.76 WHIP while racking up 25 strikeouts over 29 innings.
Lackey’s batterymate also had himself quite a game on Wednesday. Although he didn’t do much with the bat in this one, David Ross was stellar behind the dish. Grandpa Rossy was directly responsible for four outs; two runners caught stealing at second base, a pickoff at second and a perfectly executed rundown between, you guessed it, second and third.
The pickoff was the fourth of the season for Ross and his 10th since the start of 2015.
Although it wasn’t the worst coaching decision in the world, there was one move in this game that left me scratching my head.
The decision in question occurred in the top of the second inning. Ben Zobrist hit a one-out single and advanced to third on a double by Tommy La Stella. Russell then stepped to the plate in an ideal spot to do some damage, but rather than let him swing away, Joe Maddon instead elected to have Russell attempt a safety squeeze.
Russell ended up popping out to first on the first pitch of the at-bat. The Brewers then intentionally walked Ross to get to Lackey, who struck out to end the inning.
It’s impossible to say what would have happened had Russell been allowed to swing away, but the risk-reward payoff probably wasn’t high enough to justify taking the bat out of his hands in that spot.
Um, can we just go with the entire game for this one? While there were some highlights and ridiculous moments of fun (I’m looking at you, Kris Bryant-Javy Baez position/glove swap), this was definitely one to file away in the “ugly” folder.
The Cubs will look to take the rubber match and win the series as they conclude their three-game set in Milwaukee Thursday afternoon. Chicago will send Jason Hammel (5-0, 1.77) to the mound, while the Brewers will turn to right-hander Junior Guerra (2-0, 4.00). First pitch is slated for 12:40 p.m. (CST).