5 with Nine to Play Really Does Sound Pretty Magical
So, John Lackey was starting tonight. And I think the question on everyone’s mind was, is he more irascible, like Ernest Borgnine as Lieutenant Commander Quinton McHale from McHale’s Navy, or curmudgeonly, like Vic Tayback as Mel from the T.V. show Alice? Personally, I just kinda think he’s a dick. But, thoughts?
Either way, I was seriously concerned about the Cubs prospects in this game with the Lackster on the bump. Fortunately my fears were allayed early when Ryan Braun lined a single to right in the bottom of the first to drive in Neil Walker and give the Brewers a 1-0 lead. Then in the bottom of the second more allaying was brought my way when Stephen Vogt and Brett Phillips went back to back to run Milwaukee’s lead to 3-0 and bring Lackey within spitting distance of the all-time Cubs record for most home runs given up in a season. And you all said his record setting days were over.
In the top of the third, Jason Heyward singled to center. Then Javier Baez grounded into a fielder’s choice. After Lackey sacrificed Baez to second, Jon Jay roped a double into the right field corner to bring Baez around and get the Cubs on the board. Then Kris Bryant muscled a broken bat floater into right-center to bring Jay in and things started looking a little better for the good guys in blue.
In the bottom of the third the Brewers had runners on second and third and one out, and the game looked at risk of getting out of hand. But then Lackey induced a grounder off the bat of Travis Shaw that he fielded and then he threw a strike (pun intended) to Alex Avila to nail Mike Mills look-alike Eric Sogard who was going on contact, at home. Next batter, Ben Zobrist did his best Javy Baez impersonation when he made a great, Willie Mays style, over the head catch on a blooper off the bat of Domingo Santana to end the inning.
After the second inning, Brandon Woodruff seemed to be coasting, but leading off the top of the 5th Jay made him throw approximately 37 pitches before lining one into right field for a single. Then Woodruff hit Kris Bryant with a fastball. After Anthony Rizzo sacrifice swinging bunted Jay and Bryant to 2nd & 3rd, Zobrist smacked a grounder back over Woodruff’s head to drive in both runners and give the Cubs the lead.
The Brewers tied the game in the bottom of the 5th when Shaw doubled off the left field wall to bring Braun in. ‘Nuff said about that.
Javy Baez made everyone smile a whole lot in the bottom of the 8th when he made a diving stop to his left, then threw out Ryan “Roidhead” Braun from the outfield grass from his knees. Braun looked back at him like, “Whaaaaa?” It was a beautiful thing.
Hector Rondon and Mike Montgomery combined for 2 and 1/3 innings of no hit, no walk ball to carry the 4-4 tie into the ninth. And everyone’s favorite Cub, Carl Edwards, Jr. finished off the 9th to take it into extras for the second night in a row.
In the top of the tenth the Cubs loaded the bases with no outs, and I’ll admit I had a “there’s no way they can Gregg this up,” moment. Then Maddon sent some dude named Leonys Martin up to bat. At which point I said to my son, “I literally have never seen that guy before in my life.” Perhaps not surprisingly he struck out. But then Tommy LaStella, the Cub everyone loves to hate, came through with a clutch walk to give the Cubs the lead. Incidentally, Tommy looks like he could use a few cheeseburgers, or protein shakes or something.
C.E., Jr. made it more interesting than it needed to be by walking Perez to lead off the 9th. Sogard then grounded into a fielder’s choice. Then a ball in the dirt bounced in front of Willson Contreras and Sogard stole second, but Addison Russell kept the tag on him and he slid off the bag for the second out. Craig Counsell argued that Russell had pushed Sogard off the bag, but to no avail, and just for good measure, he appealed the call, which confirmed that Sogard was indeed out, which was totally obvious to anyone who had watched the play. Walker then flied out to Zobrist, who was in left field for some reason at that point and all was right with the world.
My takeaways from this game: Jessica Mendoza is a lot cuter than the fat guy she shared the booth with tonight, even though her eyebrows look like they were drawn on by Salvador Dali. And Joe Maddon is really dangerous when given an expanded roster to dick around with.