Whether the Cubs hold off the Brewers to win the National League Central, they’ve already beaten them in head games this season.
According to multiple reports out of Milwaukee, the Brewers “vigorously objected” to their Sept. 8 game at Wrigley Field being changed from an afternoon start to a 7:05 p.m. start, because of the competitive reasons cited in lifting the Friday ban on night games.
The Cubs and the city both made it clear in statements that the change was requested, and approved as a “one-time exception,” to accommodate a severe travel turnaround for the Cubs, who play a night game in Pittsburgh the night before.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) referred to an effort to assure “proper rest” for the Cubs. Crane Kenney, the team’s business operations president, lauded efforts by the city to work with the team “as we compete to play October baseball.”
Insiders say the Brewers appealed to major league baseball to force the Cubs to honor the original schedule, which was set last year – a process that delayed the announcement of the change until Thursday.
It’s not the first time this season the Cubs got under the Brewers’ skin with a decision involving when to play a scheduled game at Wrigley.
In May, the Cubs postponed a game between the teams two hours before game time, citing a forecast that called for bad weather to worsen – only to have the weather clear up during the scheduled game window.
The Brewers’ general manager, who claimed to have had a different forecast, complained to the Cubs at the time.
“It’s the first time our players were treated for sunburn after a rainout,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said the next day.
The Brewers beat the Cubs 11-2 in the rescheduled game July 6, then at the end of July held them to seven runs in a three-game series the Cubs won by the margin of an 11th-inning home run on day they struck out 17 times.
Their next meeting: Sept. 8.
The Cubs plan to add at least four players from the minors when rosters expand Friday for the final month of the season, including hard-throwing reliever Dillon Maples.
Maples, 25, looked like a bust for five years in the minors after becoming a heralded part of the Cubs’ 2011 draft – until breaking out with a 2.27 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 63 1/3 innings across three levels this year.
Others to join the team Friday: catcher Victor Caratini, reliever Justin Grimm (from the disabled list) and infielder Mike Freeman – a versatile infielder signed Aug. 7 after the Dodgers released him.
Freeman, 30, helps provide depth after the injury setback this week of shortstop Addison Russell.
Notes: Pitching coach Chris Bosio returned to the team Thursday after missing the Pittsburgh series following the death of his father. …The Cubs’ 17-3 victory over the Pirates Wednesday night marked the fourth time in August the Cubs scored 15 or more runs – the first month they’ve done that since June 1930. …The Cubs donated $100,000 to Hurricane Harvey relief Thursday, between the proceeds from Wednesday’s 50-50 raffle and matching contributions from Cubs Charities and Cubs players.
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