The Cubs are back…to being a .500 team. Not that anyone in this clubhouse would ever show the signs of frustration this early into a World Series title defense, but this comeback win felt more like something out of that unforgettable 2016 season.
"Some days you win, some days you lose, and some days the offense picks your sorry ass up!" Brett Anderson posted on his Twitter account after Tuesday's 9-7 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers snapped a four-game losing streak and reenergized Wrigley Field.
Except for a bad Anderson start – and the scattered boos heard from the crowd of 39,026 – this looked more like the Cubs team you expected to see.
"Tonight was a perfect example," new Cub Jon Jay said. "Guys didn't get down and kept on fighting, kept on fighting. The guys out here, they play all nine. They play hard."
A relentless lineup erased a 5-0 deficit, scored in bunches with two two-run homers from Kyle Schwarber and Miguel Montero and ultimately wore out the Brewers (8-7) with role players like Jay and Albert Almora Jr.
A bullpen still trying to define roles got its act together, with five relievers combining to limit the Brewers to one run across the final five-plus innings and slow down Korea Baseball Organization sensation Eric Thames (3-for-5, two doubles off Anderson).
It didn't feel exactly like the playoffs, but the press box did shake a little bit in the sixth inning, when Almora smashed a pinch-hit, two-run single off third baseman Travis Shaw's glove to make it a 7-6 game. The crowd roared again when Jay hammered a Jared Hughes fastball off the right-center field wall for a game-tying triple – and then scored the go-ahead run on a Hughes wild pitch.
"It's early in the season," Jay said. "We got guys with track records and guys who've had big years, so it's all about staying in that routine and continuing to play."
The contributions from all over the roster bailed out Anderson, who had the reporters in the interview room cracking up after the Brewers hit him hard and knocked the injury-prone pitcher out in the fourth inning, though not because of the ball that drilled him "right in the fat part of my fat hamstring."
"Yeah, it didn't feel great, but it didn't really effect me," Anderson said. "I tweaked a groin last start and got hit in the hamstring this start, so it wouldn't be a Brett Anderson start without some sort of athletic play.
"I'd like to have a start where I don't have to deal with something, but it comes with the territory of being super-athletic."
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Can't relate, a beat writer said.
"Not many people can," Anderson said in his deadpan voice.
The 2016 Cubs didn't lose their seventh game until May 11, but this is still a new group trying to create a different identity, even if most of the names and faces are the same.
"We set the bar really high last year," Montero said. "We had a really good start last year. Whatever we're at right now, that doesn't mean that it's a really slow start. We're playing .500 now. We just got to worry about one series at a time, one game at a time."