Cubs

Cubs keep showing Brewers why they're dominating rivalry: 'There are no tight butts'

Cubs keep showing Brewers why they're dominating rivalry: 'There are no tight butts'

MILWAUKEE - If the Cubs weren't in the Brewers' heads before, they surely are now.

The Cubs have now won 8 of 9 against their division rivals this season and stand alone in first place in the National League Central.

The Brewers blew a 2-1 lead Monday night in front of another chapter in the Wrigley North Takeover and saw the Cubs dismantle the strongest part of this team — their bullpen.

The Cubs made the formidable Josh Hader look human as they plated the tying run off the young left-hander in the top of the 8th inning and then unloaded on former White Sox pitcher Matt Albers for 5 runs in the 11th.

This is the first time all year Hader has worked in a game the Brewers lost and since he was forced to throw 35 pitches, he will definitely not pitch Tuesday and may be down for Wednesday's series finale as well. Corey Knebel threw 25 pitches to get 4 outs Monday, so the Cubs guaranteed he would only be able to work one of the next two games of the series at most.

To put it simply: Things are not looking great for the Brewers.

"I don't think there's ever any sense of panic with what happens," said Anthony Rizzo, who drew a walk off Hader and hit a homer off Albers to begin the 11th. "They have a guy that's unhittable come in the game and we somehow scratch a run off of him and no one's fazed.

"It's just grind at-bats out. It's an organization-wide mentality of not giving up and we do a good job with that."

No matter what way you slice it right now, the Cubs are the clear big brother in this rivalry.

They have the experience in high-pressure games. They have the talent. They have the attitude.

And now they have sole possession of first place (for now, at least).

"Our guys are loose cannons in the dugout," Joe Maddon said. "There are no tight butts. It's kind of interesting to listen to the conversation, even in a tight game.

"They're in the present tense and that's all I can ask for."

The Cubs won't take any of this for granted. Even with such a ridiculous start in the season series between the two teams, the Brewers are talented enough to win the next 10 straight against their neighbors to the South and finish over .500 against the Cubs.

But for now, the Cubs will take it.

"Yeah, it feels good," Rizzo said. "It's fun playing here. They have a good team, the fans are into it, they're engaged. You got the Cubs fans and the Brewers fans going at it all game.

"These are tough games, we know they're tough games. It's which way is the ball gonna fall and for us, fortunately this year, they've fallen our way."

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

The Cubs and their fans may want to invent and use one of those Men In Black neuralyzers because the four-game series in Cincinnati was one to forget.

The Reds finished off a four-game sweep of the Cubs on Sunday with an 8-6 win. The way the Reds won the finale will be especially painful for the Cubs considering they led 6-1 after six innings. Mike Montgomery appeared to tire in the seventh inning and Pedro Strop got rocked out of the bullpen to lead to a seven-run seventh for the hosts.

The Reds have now won seven in a row and 10 of 12, but still sit 13 games under .500. Bizarrely, the Reds also swept the Dodgers, the Cubs’ next opponent, in a four-game series in May. Duane Underwood will start for the Cubs Monday against the Dodgers and make his major league debut.

Here are some other wild facts and figures from the series:

  • The last time the Reds swept the Cubs in a four-game series was back in 1983. That was the first week of the season and three weeks before the infamous Lee Elia rant.
  • One positive for the Cubs from the game was Montgomery’s start. Through six innings he allowed one run on three hits and two walks. However, he gave up a single, a double and a single in the seventh before Strop relieved him. Montgomery had gone six innings and allowed one run in each of his last four outings.
  • Strop was definitely a negative. On his first pitch, Strop gave up a home run to pinch-hitter Jesse Winker, the second home run for a Reds pinch-hitter in the game. Then Strop allowed a single, a walk, a single and a double before getting an out. Strop’s final line: 2/3 inning pitched, four runs, one strikeout, three walks, four hits.
  • The Cubs led in three of the four games this series, including two leads after five innings.
  • The Cubs were 5-for-23 (.217) with runners in scoring position in the series. On the season the Cubs are hitting .233 with RISP, which is 22nd in the majors and fourth-worst in the National League (but ahead of the division-rival Brewers and Cardinals).
  • The Reds outscored the Cubs 31-13 and scored at least six runs in every game. The Reds are now 6-3 against the Cubs this year after going a combined 17-40 against the Cubs from 2015-2017.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 32nd homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 32nd homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa victimized the Tigers pitching staff again on the next night, taking Brian Moehler deep in the 7th inning for a 400-foot solo blast.

The homer tied the game at 3, but the Cubs blew the lead in the bottom of the 7th when the Terrys (Adams and Mulholland) gave up 3 runs. The Cubs wound up losing 6-4.

The Cubs were putting together a really nice season in 1998 that ended with a trip to October. They entered the series with the Tigers with a 42-34 record, yet lost both games to a Detroit team that entered the series with a 28-45 record. The Tigers finished the season 65-94; the Cubs finished 90-73.

Fun fact: Luis Gonzalez was the Tigers left fielder and No. 5 hitter for both games of the series. He spent part of the 1995 season and all of '96 on Chicago's North Side. 1998 was his only year in Detroit before he moved on to Arizona, where he hit 57 homers in 2001 and helped the Diamondbacks to a World Series championship with that famous broken-bat single in Game 7.

Fun fact  No. 2: Remember Pedro Valdes? He only had a cup of coffee with the Cubs (9 games in 1996 and 14 in '98), but started in left field on June 25, 1998. He walked and went 0-for-1 before being removed from the game for a pinch-hitter (Jose Hernandez).