MILWAUKEE — Wade Davis spent the last year and three weeks doing nothing on a baseball field except preserve every lead he was handed by two different teams.
Then on one Saturday afternoon, the surest ninth-inning bet in the game blew two leads in as many innings to send the Cubs to a 4-3, 10-inning loss against the Brewers at Miller Park.
One inning after Orlando Arcia’s leadoff homer in the ninth ended Davis’ franchise-record saves streak, Travis Shaw’s two-run homer on a hanging breaking pitch ended the game.
“There’s nothing to lament right there,” manager Joe Maddon said. “There’s no way, shape or form to point a finger at Wade. He’s outstanding.”
The Cubs are in no immediate danger of losing control of the -National League Central race, still 4½ games ahead of the Brewers and five ahead of the Cardinals with eight to play.
If anything, the Davis aberration underscores one of the few things the Cubs have been able to rely on throughout a season of injuries and lapses — and one of the reasons they might be compelled to revisit his future with the club when he becomes a free agent in six weeks.
“He’s made a tremendous impact on us,” said Maddon, who had Hector Rondon ready to pitch the 10th had the Cubs not scored in the top half. “Not only [on the mound], but the way he’s mentored the other guys. He’s such a really good, calming influence out there.”
When the Cubs took the lead on Jon Jay’s run-scoring single, there was no hesitation by the manager after Davis’ 16-pitch ninth.
“Listen, he’s your best guy,” Maddon said. “There’s no second-guessing whatsoever.”
An unflappable veteran with 32 saves in 32 chances — 38-for-38 going back to last year — will do that for a manager’s mindset.
Not that Davis spent much emotion on the streak — or much more on its end.
Exactly how much did the streak mean to him? “Not much,” he said.
“Obviously, I wanted to win today’s game and put us in a better position than we’re in. So it kind of stinks, but you move on from it.”
Davis spends just about as much emotion on his impending free-agent status.
“Not even thinking about it,” he said. “Literally irrelevant at this point.”
It’s not irrelevant to the Cubs, who will be in the market for a closer this winter and will be hard-pressed to do better than the 32-year-old right-hander.
Davis said he hasn’t considered so much as how many years he might seek. But he said he hopes the Cubs want to talk about bringing him back when the time comes.
“It’s been good. The season’s gone by fast, which is a good sign,” he said Friday. “When the season goes by fast, it means you’re having fun and things are going your direction. It’s definitely been a very good experience.”
Davis, the Cubs’ lone All-Star this season, was acquired from the Royals in December in a trade for outfielder Jorge Soler.
The top closer on the market this winter had a 1.95 ERA until Saturday.
He makes $10 million this year and could command the big-ticket price that Cubs president Theo -Epstein has tended to avoid for closers.
Davis also has been an ideal fit with the Cubs this year and could be hard to resist, especially as a handful of big salaries fall off the books after this year.
“I think there’s a chance for anything,” pitching coach Chris Bosio said before quickly emphasizing the focus on the task at hand.
“He’s had a great year,” Epstein said. “He’s been a leader out there. Any team would love to have him. But we’re not to the winter yet.”
Davis has other things on his mind right now, too, he said.
“I’m just kind of anxious to win a World Series,” he said, “and then go hunting.”
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