Monday technically wasn’t a playoff game, but that’s exactly what it was for all intents and purposes. Both teams’ starters were outstanding, with the Brewers gaining a clear edge when the bullpens took over. Milwaukee took a late lead and Josh Hader slammed the door to win the division title.
Both Jose Quintana and Jhoulys Chacin started well with two scoreless frames. Orlando Arcia singled to open the 3rd and was bunted over by Chacin. Christian Yelich, of course, ripped a two-out single to right to make it 1-0 Brewers.
Chacin held the Cubs hitless into the 5th inning until Anthony Rizzo broke up the no-no in style, blasting a long homer to right to tie the game. Daniel Murphy singled and Ben Zobrist walked to put two on with two out in the 6th, but Joakim Soria entered and struck out Javy Baez to end the threat.
Jesse Chavez took over for Quintana in the 6th and pitched two clean innings. Justin Wilson got the 8th and was greeted by Arcia’s third single of the game (he would end the day with four). Pinch hitter Domingo Santana yanked a double down the third base line to put runners at second and third.
Steve Cishek relieved Wilson and Lorenzo Cain hit the go-ahead single to center. Ryan Braun got a hit off of Brandon Kintzler to increase the lead to 3-1. That was plenty for Hader, who allowed just a single in the final two innings. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Lost
Other than Rizzo’s homer, the Cubs had two singles the whole game. When it went to the respective ‘pens, the Brewers had a much better chance to win.
Soria getting Baez was a big moment because it was the Cubs’ only chance with a runner in scoring position in the game.
Stats That Matter
- Quintana allowed some hard contact but was very good: 5 IP, 1 R, 6 H, 4 K, and 0 BB. Having only thrown 64 pitches, there is a good case to be made for keeping him in an inning or two more. Q is not good the third time through the lineup, though, so that was probably the deciding factor.
- This was Arcia’s first career game with four hits; he entered Monday with a .227 average and a .564 OPS.
Did the Brewers win the division or did the Cubs let it slip away? As is often the case with these questions, the real answer is in between. Milwaukee was undeniably good, going 20-7 in September and one day of October. At the same time, Chicago had a five-game lead in early September, so you have to call it a missed opportunity on some level. Whatever the case, the Cubs have no time to mope because the Wild Card game is Tuesday night.
The Cubs will host the Wild Card game Tuesday night at 7:00 pm CT. Jon Lester is likely to start for the Cubs against the Rockies/Dodgers loser. ESPN has the exclusive broadcast, so prepare to be annoyed.