Cubs don’t do much for so-called ‘rivalry’ with Brewers, look sloppy in loss
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MILWAUKEE — Just when we were all informed this wasn’t a rivalry, the Brewers started delivering alternative facts Tuesday night in another victory over the first-place Cubs.
Even the Brewers fans seemed more vocal in the face of another strong Miller Park showing by Cubs fans — although, in fairness, they had much more to cheer about in their team’s 11-1 rout of the sloppy Cubs.
All of a sudden, a cushy lead in the National League Central on Labor Day is down to three games with four more against the second-place Brewers in the next eight days.
Scared of the Brewers yet? Anybody south of Racine think they’re for real yet?
“You guys can panic. We’re not going to panic,” Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr. said. “We’ve got a couple more games to play. … We’re not very worried. They came out hot today, and they beat us.”
And what about this rivalry that exists or doesn’t exist depending on which caller gets airtime on which sports talk-radio show or which TV sports personality asks which player in which clubhouse?
Of course, that was recently acquired Cubs pitcher Cole Hamels fanning the latest flame when he said after Monday’s loss to the Brewers that the Cubs-Brewers thing can’t be much of a rivalry if the visiting fans take over the home ballpark.
“I’ve been in rivalries,” Hamels said. “They’re not going to like me for the comment, but you can look at the ticket sales.”
Whether that had anything to do with the apparent increase in the Brewer-fan-to-Cub-fan ratio Tuesday, it caused enough of a storm that Milwaukee media was out in force to get the Brewers’ response.
“I look at it like we are spending way too much time trying to classify rivalries,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Enjoy the baseball games, man. Home, road, I’m happy I’m in the building. If you aren’t enjoying that game [Monday] night — I’m sorry, Cubs fans, I know it didn’t turn out the way you wanted — but that’s a great baseball game.”
Tuesday’s game, not so great. The Cubs lost in an avalanche of nine walks, two hit batters, two errors (plus a third that should have been) and six different innings of easy Brewer runs — much of the damage coming after starter Mike Montgomery couldn’t pitch more than four innings.
“Today was just a bad game,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We can play with these guys. They can play with use. They got us late yesterday. Today they just got us. I’m confident that we’re going to be just fine.”
For all the things that went wrong for the Cubs on this night, none was worse than the injury added to insult when hot-hitting Anthony Rizzo was forced from the Cubs’ lineup for a badly bruised foot.
Rizzo, who already got hit by a pitch in the first, fouled a ball off his right foot in the third inning and hobbled through three more innings before leaving for X-rays after he batted in the top of the sixth.
X-rays were negative, and he told Maddon after the game that he was available to play Wednesday.
The Brewers send 14-game winner Jhoulys Chacin to the mound, trying to sweep the series against Jose Quintana and give the Cubs a parting shot and some deep thoughts about the division race as they fly to Washington for a four-game series against the Nationals.
Would that build the panic level? A rivalry even?
“They’re a good team; they always play well against us,” said Montgomery, who gave up two runs before leaving after 78 pitches as Maddon used the aggressive hook in response to how well the Brewers’ Wade Miley (3-2) looked.
“They always have that chip on their shoulder when we come here. We understand where we are as a team. We’re pretty confident. I think we’ll bounce back just fine.”