Cubs 3, Brewers 4: One Pitch Sinks Alec Mills

As the saying goes, you can’t win them all, and despite the torrid pace the Cubs have set so far this season, even a Tony 2-Chains led team can’t prove the idiom wrong. In what started out as dueling perfect games between Alec Mills and Brandon Woodruff, a three-run home run by Christian Yelich in the top of the sixth proved too much to overcome.

The Good

Though the Cubs were not able to pull out the win, the collective effort at the plate the Cubs showed in the bottom of the fifth inning was still deserving of “The Good” in this game. Brewer’s starting pitcher, Brandon Woodruff, entered the inning with a perfect game intact. Willson Contreras started things with a groundout to short, which seemed to indicate more of the same was in order. Then, Jason Heyward lined a fastball sharply to center on the second pitch for a single. Bote followed that with a single combined with great base running by Heyward put runners at the corners. Jason Kipnis had what might have been the at-bat of the night, finally shooting the ninth pitch of the battle into center, scoring Heyward. Nico Hoerner followed suit, working a seven-pitch at-bat that resulted in a walk to load the bases. Ian Hap, who has had his struggles in the leadoff role, worked a six-pitch RBI walk. Woodruff was finally chased when Anthony Rizzo singled to center, driving in Kipnis.

Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber struck out ending the threat, but overall, it was an inning reminiscent of the 2016 squad. Kipnis and Hoerner’s deep plate appearances in the eight and nine-hole respectively really set the tone for the team.

The Bad

The final linescore might not show it, but Alec Mills actually had a good night on the mound. In fact, were it not for one pitch, it would have been a fantastic outing. Like Woodruff, Alec Mills spent the first four innings flirting with a perfect game. Perhaps it was the long break in the bottom of the fifth that threw him off his rhythm, but the top of the sixth started bad and got worse. Eric Sogard got things started for Milwaukee with a single. Keston Hiura was hit by a pitch setting up tonight’s “ugly” moment.

Christian Yelich has struggled mightily at the plate to start the year, and his first two at-bats of the game resulted in strikeouts, but he did not miss the first pitch he saw in the sixth. Mills went with a changeup that missed its spot, crossing the plate above the belt on the outer third that Yellich smoked to right-center for a no-doubter.

On a positive note, David Ross showed some savvy by sticking with Mills after the homer. Mills settled down and got the final three outs, ending his night on a positive note. His final line for the game was 6.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 7 SO with the 1 HR allowed to Yelich.

The Ugly

While the bottom of the fifth was a microcosm of the Cubs return to their 2016 ways this season, Javier Baez had one of the few ugly at-bats of the night for the Cubs. Rizzo had just driven in the third run for the Cubs and knocked Woodruff from the game. The bases were loaded with one out when Javy strode to the plate. Woodruff had thrown a majority of fastballs to Javy in his first two plate appearances, all over 95 MPH resulting in a strikeout looking in the first and a fielder’s choice in the fourth.

In the fifth, reliever Freddy Peralta took a very different approach. In the four-pitch at-bat, Javy saw only one fastball, a show-me pitch high and tight. The other three were breaking balls under 80 MPH. When Javy is in full El Mago mode, he hits it where it’s pitched, driving the outside breaking ball with authority to right. In this case, he seemed to be pressing, trying to pull the ball and struck out in what proved to be a costly missed opportunity.

What’s Next

With the series tied at one apiece, the Cubs will try to take the upper hand in the four-game set. The Saturday game was initially scheduled as a night game, but the threat of inclement weather forced the Cubs to move the game up to 2:20 pm CT.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the latest episode of the Northside Show. Special guest Randall J. Sanders joined hosts Austin Bloomberg and Benjamin J. Denen for a lively discussion of the Cubs start and the upcoming scheduling issues created by the number of positive COVID-19 test results throughout the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

Featured Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images


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