Cubs Record: 89-49 (1st Place NL Central)
W: Wily Peralta (6-9, 5.47)
L: Jason Hammel (14-8, 3.50)
MVP: Anthony Rizzo: 2-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R
The Cubs continued their push for the Central Division crown Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Brewers. Jason Hammel, who was trying to make his case for the postseason roster, started for Chicago. He did battle with beleaguered Brewers right-hander Wily Peralta.
Things started out well for the Cubs, as Anthony Rizzo hit a solo home run in the top of the 1st to make it 1-0. Jonathan Villar immediately answered with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the inning. The Brewers would proceed to bat around in the 1st inning, plating 5 runs before before they were finally retired.
Miguel Montero homered to the opposite field to cut the lead to 5-2 Brewers, but the home team continued to do damage to Hammel as the game went on. In the 4th, Peralta doubled and advanced to third on a Villar bunt hit. Then Montero threw the ball into the outfield trying to cut down a stealing Villar, allowing Peralta to score.
Fan-favorite Ryan Braun effectively ended the game with a three-run jack in the bottom of the 6th to make it 9-2 Milwaukee. This also ended Hammel’s night with 8 earned runs in 5.2 innings. Hector Rondon looked a little rusty as he made his return from the DL, giving up one run in the 7th inning.
Rizzo was the only Chicago player to really offer much Tuesday. The big first baseman blasted his second homer to right in the top of the 8th, the two-run poke made it 10-4. Spencer Patton gave up 2 more runs in the bottom of the 8th. September call-up Munenori Kawasaki doubled home a run in the 9th, but it was academic by that point, as the Brewers won 12-5.
After a bit of a power outage in August it’s good to see Rizzo driving the ball deep again. Tony came into Tuesday hitting a cool .500 against Wily Peralta, so perhaps it wasn’t a surprise he took him deep twice. Montero also had two extra-base hits of his own Tuesday. Miggy is making a late push for the playoff roster, but his throwing issues may keep it from happening.
Regardless of the results in this particular game, it was good to see Hector Rondon back. He showed good velocity in his first appearance, popping the glove at 97. If Pedro Strop follows back in the next week or so, the Cubs could have a very good pen. CJ Edwards, Justin Grimm, and Rob Zastryzny all stepped up and pitched well while both relievers were hurt. A fully healthy pen could be a formidable unit come October.
There is no way to sugarcoat things, the Chicago National League Ballclub played a horribly Tuesday. It was just one of those games that proves the rule that even the best teams lose a third of the time. One of the benefits of having a 15-game lead with 24 games left to play is these losses don’t mean much. Not to mention we got to see Kawasaki hit a double, so it wasn’t all bad.
Jason Hammel is auditioning for an October role in his final starts. Tuesday was not a good step in that direction for the Cubs hurler. The Brewers did have three bunt singles, so it wasn’t all hard contact. Still, three of Hammel’s last four starts have been shaky to say the least. It seems likely that he will be the odd man out when the Northsiders head to the playoffs.
The Cubs go for the not-at-all-important rubber match of the series Wednesday night at Miller Park. Mike Montgomery (4-5, 2.80 ERA) is trying to earn a starting gig in 2017 with these late season efforts. Matt Garza (5-6, 4.57 ERA) remains on a quest to try to someday get revenge on his former team. The game doesn’t mean anything, yet I would still like to see the Cubs kick Garza’s teeth in.