Last strikes: Cubs 5, Brewers 2

MILWAUKEE – Seventeen last strikes for the 17 batters faced by Brewers’ relievers in Milwaukee’s 5-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Saturday evening.

1. The Milwaukee Brewers entered the ninth inning of Saturday’s game with the Chicago Cubs holding a 2-1 lead thanks to Lorenzo Cain’s sacrifice fly in the eighth inning. Without closer Corey Knebel available, manager Craig Counsell turned to Jacob Barnes to record the final three outs of the game for the Brewers.

2. From that point on, things could not have gone much worse for Milwaukee.

3. While Barnes is handed the loss in relief, placing the blame solely on him would be foolish. Barnes didn’t pitch poorly, but rather the defense failed him.

4. The Brewers potentially had an opportunity to end the game when Cubs infielder Javy Baez stepped to the plate. There were runners on first and second with one out when Baez hit a two-hopper to third baseman Travis Shaw. Shaw was unable to field the ball – which possibly could have resulted in a game-ending double play – leaving the bases loaded with one out.

5. “It was a tough hop, there’s no question it was an in-between hop,” Counsell said of the ball Shaw mis-handled. “Doubtful that we would’ve turned two. I was just thinking [one] out when he hit it.”

6. Utility man Ben Zobrist then stepped to the dish and knocked a grounder in the vicinity of first baseman Eric Thames. Thames made a terrific diving stop to get the ball but was hesitant in his decision making on the play. He eventually flipped the ball to first base with Barnes covering, but Barnes was late getting to the bag and entirely missed it, resulting in a game-tying infield single for Zobrist.

7. “It’s part of the game, unfortunately,” Barnes said of the ninth inning collapse. “You execute pitches and unfortunately sometimes it kind of goes in the wrong spot. That’s all you can do. I look back on it and obviously it’s frustrating and no one wants to ever give up runs but I think I executed pretty well for the most part and unfortunately, they were able to find some holes and get some infield hits.”

8. Those back-to-back plays cost the Brewers an early season win. Chicago’s Ian Happ promptly stepped to the plate and laced a two-run single into left center and moved up to second base on Cain’s throw into third base. After an intentional walk to Kris Bryant, Chicago’s Jon Lester pinch hit for pitcher Pedro Strop and dropped down a squeeze bunt scoring Zobrist from third.

9. “[Barnes] pitched great. He broke probably three bats that inning,” Counsell said. “In the end we had a play to make on one of those and we just couldn’t make a play. I’m not sure on the first ball there’s an out to be had. Zobrist’s ball, I think there’s an out in there somewhere and certainly on Baez’s ball there’s an out.

10. “We’ve made too many infield mistakes, there’s no question,” Counsell said. “I think they are a good defensive infield, we’ve made defensive mistakes the past couple days.”

11. Whether or not the Brewers will be considered a good defensive infield – or team — at the end of the year is obviously yet to be known. What is factual is the fact that Milwaukee has committed 11 errors through six games on this home stand.

12. That doesn’t include plays like the one Thames and Barnes failed to execute at first base in the ninth and the ball Cain struggled to find in the sun on Bryant’s triple in the eighth. They can certainly be a good defensive team when it is all said and done, but they have not been one thus far.

13. All Milwaukee could muster in the bottom of the ninth was a single from Shaw before this one officially became a loss, and a wasted pitching performance from starter Zach Davies.

14. Davies was tremendous on the day, as was his counterpart, Yu Darvish of the Cubs. Davies struck out eight over six innings allowing one earned run on the day. Darvish went six innings as well, allowing two hits and one earned run while striking out nine.

15. The only damage done to the starting pitchers came by virtue of solo home runs. Thames launched a ball to the second deck in left field to open the scoring in the fourth for the Brewers. Bryant went deep off Davies in the sixth, a 407-foot blast into the seats in left field.

16. It’s far too early to panic, or even fret about this loss for Brewers fans. Teams lose games, it happens to all 30 franchises in baseball. But it’s the way the game was lost that makes this one a frustrating loss. It’s also a game that could potentially be looked back at near the end of the season as one that could have helped the Brewers in the playoff race.

17. The Brewers and Cubs finish off the four-game set on Sunday afternoon at 1:10PM CT at Miller Park. Chase Anderson will start for the Brewers and José Quintana will take the mound for the Cubs.

Brewers: Milwaukee falls 4-2 at San Francisco

For the second time in three games the Milwaukee Brewers wasted a very good outing from their starting pitcher and fell to the San Francisco Giants, this one a 4-2 setback on Wednesday afternoon.

After giving up a run in the first inning, Matt Garza settled in, going five innings, allowing five hits and striking out six. Reliever Josh Hader pitched a scoreless sixth inning but Jacob Barnes and Carlos Torres were exposed for three runs in the seventh and eighth innings.

Milwaukee may have been able to overcome that, but its offense did not make the trip to San Francisco. The Brewers managed just six runs in the three-game series, including two on Wednesday, which came courtesy of a Travis Shaw double in the first inning and a solo homer from Stephen Vogt in the bottom of the ninth.

The loss dropped the Crew three games back of Chicago in the NL Central and 3.5 games back of Arizona in the race for the final Wildcard spot.

It doesn’t get any easier for manager Craig Counsell’s club as they’ll finish off the nine-game road trip by visiting the Los Angeles Dodgers for a three-game series starting on Friday. LA has the best record in all of baseball and have lost just 14 home games all season.

Brewers losing streak now at four games after 4-0 loss to Minnesota

Milwaukee fell for a fourth-straight time on Wednesday night, this one a 4-0 setback to Minnesota at Miller Park.

The Brewers couldn’t get anything going against 44-year-old Bartolo Colon, who scattered five hits over seven innings of work to get the win and improve to 4-9 on the year and 2-1 since signing with the Twins in early July. Milwaukee had just six base runners all night, and went 0-4 with runners in scoring position. It was the 13th straight game where the Crew failed to score more than four runs.

“There’s frustration, of course. I think when you do struggle to score runs there is frustration,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s OK and that’s natural. But you’ve got to come back tomorrow and understand that there is a lot of opportunity in front of us. When you wake up tomorrow, that’s how you see it.”

Like much of the second half of the season, Milwaukee got good enough pitching to win. Making his second career start, Brandon Woodruff allowed two runs over 5 2/3rds innings of work but ended up taking the loss. Reliever Jacob Barnes gave up the other two runs on the night.

While the loss didn’t drop them further back of the Cubs in the NL Central – Chicago’s lead is still at 1.5 games – the Brewers do have some company in second place, as St. Louis beat Kansas City 8-5 to pull into a tie with Milwaukee.

The Brewers will try to salvage one game of their four-game interleague series with the Twins tonight at Miller Park. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m.

7-run inning pushes the Nationals past the Brewers

Another tough night for the Milwaukee bullpen helped Washington get past the Brewers 8-5 on Wednesday night.

Starter Jimmy Nelson was relieved following a four-pitch walk to open the eighth inning, exiting with a 2-1 lead after seven strong innings of work where he allowed just one run on four hits and struck out 10. But a pair of hits, including a two-run double by Ryan Zimmerman off Jacob Barnes, cost the Crew the lead. After Josh Hader came on to strikeout Bryce Harper, manager Craig Counsell went to Jared Hughes, who proceeded to give up four runs before getting the final out.

“Jacob did a nice job. He got two ground balls. Jacob’s been our eighth-inning guy, and to me, he did his job tonight,” Counsell said. “Unfortunately, [the ground balls] found holes. Josh did his job. I thought we had it setup kind of the way we wanted to with [with Hughes] and some matchups. It just didn’t work.”

Milwaukee nearly got the tying run to the plate in the top of the ninth thanks to a two-run homer from Lewis Brinson, the organization’s top prospect who had been called up earlier in the day. Hernan Perez also had a run scoring double in the frame.

The loss dropped Milwaukee out of first place, and they are now ½ game back of the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central.

The Brewers and Nationals will play their rubber match on Thursday, with first pitch coming at 11:05 a.m.

LISTEN: Top prospect Lewis Brinson on how he’s handling being called up

Peralta earns his second win in the Brewers 4-3 victory over Toronto

The Milwaukee Brewers ruined Opening Day in Toronto last night, coming out 4-3 winners against the Blue Jays.

The Crew got another very good outing from Wily Peralta, who picked up his second win of the season by going six innings, giving up three runs on five hits and striking out seven. The veteran also walked four.

His outing was backed by a trio of relievers – Jacob Barnes, Corey Knebel and Neftali Feliz – who didn’t allow a hit in the final three innings. Feliz earned his second save of the year with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

Milwaukee was paced offensively by Domingo Santana, who had a pair of RBI’s, including a home run in the fifth inning that proved to be all the scoring the Brewers would need.

Outfielder Keon Boxton went 2 for 5 and hit the first home run of his season, while catcher Manny Pina continued his hot start with three hits in four plate appearances to push his batting average to .429 through eight games.

All of the damage Milwaukee did came against starter J.A. Happ, who fell to 0-2 on the year. He gave up the four runs on nine hits, while also striking out eight batters.

The win snapped a two-game losing streak for Milwaukee, while the Blue Jays fell to 1-5 on the year, the worst start in franchise history.

The second and final game of the quick interleague series is tonight at the Rogers Centre. First pitch is set for 6:07 p.m.