After a 5 game division lead dwindled down to 1 seemingly overnight, Tuesday’s game felt like the most important one of the year. Fortunately Jose Quintana came through in the clutch and shut down a Brewers team that had won 10 of its last 12. The veteran lefty went 7 innings, allowing 0 runs on only 3 hits and was in control most of the night. The Cubs got an early lead on a ill-advised pickoff attempt at second base that sailed into center field, letting Zobrist trot home and Baez to move up to third. (Note to opposing pitchers: Do not mess around when Baez is on base. Every time El Mago gets on, bizarre things happen and he eventually scores.) The next batter Caratini, whose offensive game is surging of late, delivered a bloop single over the second baseman’s head, plating Baez for an early 2-0 lead.
A pitcher’s duel ensued as both starters shut down the opposing offenses behind several key defensive plays. Cain, center fielder for the Brewers, made a couple impressive catches that kept the Cubs lead to 2 runs through the middle innings. As we entered crunch time in the 7th inning, the Cubbies were able to add that ever important insurance run on an oppo field double by Caratini. Once again the backup catcher came through in a big moment. Kudos to Joe Maddon for having La Stella moving on the pitch, as the perfectly called hit-an-run allowed him to score all the way from first. That run deflated the Brewers and all but served as the dagger.
As previously mentioned, there were several highlight defensive plays made, but none better than Addison Russel’s backhanded stab-pirouette-throw to rob Braun of an infield single. This put them one out away from finishing the game and was as spectacular of a play as you’ll see. Russell had just checked in as a defensive replacement, so once again great managing by Joe Cool. And by the way, Rizzo did the splits better than a female gymnast could on that play. Wow!
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