Saturday, May 12, 2012–Brewers 8, Cubs 2
I always think of the Cubs and Cardinals as the great midwest rivalry, and I’ll get to experience that firsthand in just a few days. However, since the Brewers have pulled themselves out of the cellar, it does follow that Cubs-Brewers could also be an intense rivalry. After all, the two cities are less than a hundred miles apart and the teams are division rivals. After arriving in Milwaukee, I caught the last seven innings of yesterday’s series opener on television. That game had all the makings of a playoff preview: multiple lead changes, sensational plays to save runs and on more than one occasion a pitcher would wiggle his way out of a jam. It was finally decided in the 13th with Travis Ishikawa’s bases-loaded single to give the Brew Crew an 8-7 win.
So, in some ways, this afternoon’s game also had that real rivalry feeling to it. Yesterday, a number of batters were hit by pitches, so when Ryan Braun and Alfonso Soriano were both plunked in the early innings, warnings were issued and there was quite a bit of jawing, just like a real rivalry. Well… except for one little thing: the fans. The crowd was listed—near capacity—at over 42 thousand. My estimate is the split of Brew boosters to Cubbie loyalists was about 60/40. But something about those fans was just not quite right for a real rivalry. It’s a ballpark with a retractable roof, but there are large windows in the outfield to give the stadium some more natural lighting. And through the third inning, out the window beyond right field, I could see a pedestrian bridge with large numbers of people crossing to the park. Somehow, in a rivalry, I’d expect those people to have made that trip over that bridge and into the stadium about an hour earlier than they did. For the middle innings, the place was completely packed, but it took a while to get that way.
It seems odd to call a game with an 8-2 final a pitcher’s duel, but that was what it felt like for most of the game. The Cubs scored first on, of all things, a double play with a runner at third. The Brewers answered with an even odder play: the run scoring pickoff. Nyjer Morgan was at third with Braun at first. Braun took off for second way too early and was picked off. But he stayed in a rundown long enough for Morgan to score—it appeared the Cubs simply forgot he was there. After that and through the top of the 6th, both Shaun Marcum for the Brewers and Chris Volstad of the Cubs were in complete control.
Volstad blinked first. After giving up a run in the bottom of the 6th, he gave up a single and a double to put runners at 2nd and 3rd. He then intentionally walked Ishikawa to load up the bases for the kid just up from Triple-A, Edwin Maysonet. Maysonet proceeded to crush the ball down the leftfield line for a grand slam and his first 4 RBI for the season. From there, the game wasn’t close again.
Check out the scorecard.