Game Twenty-Nine – Cubs 2 Brewers 3
WP – Mitch Stetter (2-0) LP – Aaron Heilman (2-2, BS 2) Save – Trevor Hoffman (5)
On a night the Cubs saw their third baseman lie on the ground writhing in pain in the third inning, the offense failed to take advantage of an error and an intentional walk that loaded the bases with one-out in the eighth. Aaron Heilman took the hill in the bottom of the inning. After a four-pitch walk to Corey Hart and a wild pitch, Ryan Braun launched a two-run shot to right and the Brewers won a big game on a night the Cubs suffered a big loss.
Depending on how the team responds over the next couple of days, Friday night in Milwaukee could serve as a turning point for the entire season. The one player the Cubs could not afford to lose for any amount of time had to be helped off the field after laying in pain near the third baseline for several minutes.
Aramis Ramirez made an excellent diving stop on a ball hit down the third baseline by Ryan Braun but as soon as he landed it was apparent something was wrong. Ramirez first grabbed his wrist, then his shoulder. Mark O’Neal helped him off the field and down into the clubhouse and Ramirez was obviously in excruciating pain.
WGN Radio first reported during the game Aramis Ramirez dislocated his left shoulder and would have x-rays and a MRI to determine the severity. Reports surfaced following the loss that Ramirez could be lost from anywhere to four to eight weeks.
Randy Wells somehow pitched five shutout innings in his first Major League start. Wells left the game for pinch-hitter Bobby Scales in the top of the sixth after five innings of five-hit ball with two walks and five strikeouts. The Brewers worked the count against Wells all night and put two runners on base in the first three innings…but Wells made the big pitch when he needed it.
Angel Guzman made just one mistake in an otherwise excellent two innings of relief. J.J. Hardy hit a solo home run off Guzman with two outs in the sixth that cut the Cubs lead to 2-1….two pitches earlier, Koyie Hill dropped a foul tip that would have been strike three.
Aaron Heilman was ‘the Aaron Heilman that pitched out of the Mets’ pen for the last two seasons’ on Friday night. Carlos Marmol cannot be used everyday, he has already appeared in 16 of the Cubs first 29 games, and someone else in Piniella’s pen has to start doing their job.
With the Cubs up 2-1, Heilman walked Corey Hart on four pitches. His first pitch to Ryan Braun was in the dirt and skipped past Koyie Hill. Braun was sitting on a fastball and he cranked his seventh of the year over the wall in right. Braun admired his work then circled the bases.
What had been the Brewers’ Achilles’ Heal for the past two seasons has turned into one of their strengths in recent weeks. Trevor Hoffman retired the Cubs in order in the ninth for his fifth save of the year. While Hoffman is not the pitcher he once was, his reputation alone effects the hitter’s approach….two of the three outs were Aaron Miles and Micah Hoffpauir looking at strike three.
Every loss is a tough one. Every blown save by a bullpen that refuses to throw strikes is aggravating but Friday night’s losses were a lot more. It is time for several players to step up and start doing their job. The Cubs have been inconsistent and have underachieved over the first six weeks. A few of the players are carrying the team while most have yet to perform anywhere near expectations. With the loss of Aramis Ramirez it is time for them to relax and play the game the way they are capable.
Milton Bradley broke up the scoreless tie in the top of the fifth with his third home run of the season. Bradley really turned on the ball and lined it into the second deck….and this was after he made a fine diving catch in the bottom of the fourth.
The Cubs tacked on in the sixth after Bobby Scales pinch-hit for Randy Wells and tripled down the right field line. Scales hustled around the bases and belly-flopped into the bag…a la Pete Rose. His desire and passion for the game is refreshing to see. While Scales might not be as physically gifted as many of his teammates, he has shown a desire in two games that he wants to play…some on the Cubs current roster should pay attention to the ‘veteran-rookie‘.
Alfonso Soriano stepped in and hit a sacrifice fly into center that plated Scales with the Cubs’ second run.
The Cubs offense blew a chance in the eighth to tack on and opened the door for Ryan Braun’s shot in the bottom of the inning.
Koyie Hill reached on a one-out double to right. Reed Johnson pinch-hit for Angel Guzman. Bill Hall made a nice backhanded stop on a ball hit down the third baseline…but threw the ball away. Hill ended up at third and Johnson at second with one out. The Brewers intentionally walked Alfonso Soriano to load the bases.
For some reason, Ryan Theriot swung at the first pitch from Carlos Villanueva and tapped out softly to Villanueva on the first base side of the mound. Hill was forced out at home for the second out.
Ken Macha brought in Mitch Stetter to face Kosuke Fukudome with the bases loaded. Piniella countered with Geovany Soto against the southpaw but the struggling Soto grounded out weakly to short on his second pitch. The at-bats by Theriot and Soto changed the momentum of the game.
Saturday is a new day…
Ryan Dempster will face Yovani Gallardo on Saturday night in game two of the series with the newest Cub, Ryan Freel likely at third base.