Chicago Cubs

Brewers throw major shade at Cubs after Saturday's rainout decision

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USA TODAY

Brewers throw major shade at Cubs after Saturday's rainout decision

Fans in search of a Bryzzo bobblehead weren't the only ones disappointed by the Cubs-Brewers game getting postponed Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

The two teams played through some nasty weather on Friday afternoon, including a two-hour rain delay. A main motivation behind that was the forecast for Saturday did not look to be any more promising and the teams did not want to have to make up two games later in the year.

However, after an incredibly-rainy morning, the Cubs postponed Saturday's game before 11:30 a.m. Shortly after, the precipitation stopped for good.

The Brewers woke up Sunday morning throwing major shade at the Cubs with GM David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell leading the way:

"Clearly the Cubs were looking at a weather forecast that made them think it was going to rain," Stearns said. "I think we were a little surprised that the game was called as early as it was. I'm sure they had their reasons to do it. Obviously it didn't rain. From our standpoint, we would have preferred to play yesterday.

"I talked to some guys over at the Cubs. They know how we felt. They told us that their weather forecast indicated our game was not going to be able to be played. Our weather forecast did not indicate that. There was some other weather forecasts that did not indicate that. Ultimately, it was the Cubs' call.

"From my understanding of the rules, prior to the All-Star Break, the home team has discretion prior to first pitch, then it's on the umpire's hands. So the Cubs had discretion there and did what they thought was best."

Stearns did not have a comment on whether the Cubs gained a competitive advantage on the first-place Brewers by not playing the game.

"I don't know," Stearns said. "All they told us was that their weather forecast indicated we were not going to be able to get the game on, so that's all I really have to go by.

"You'd have to ask them. I'm not privy to their forecasting methods or what service they use. All I know was that they told us at the time they canceled the game. They certainly knew that we would have preferred to play. Ultimately, it's their call.

"That game on Friday was tough for both sides. Those aren't fun conditions for players to play through. Seemed like we had better conditions yesterday, but the Cubs decided it wasn't the right time to play baseball."

Cubs manager Joe Maddon addressed the rainout in his pregame session Sunday morning, saying he enjoyed his afternoon off and took a couple naps.

As for the lack of rain from about noon on, Maddon shrugged it off.

"Everything indicated it was going to be exactly like the day before," he said, "so that's the beauty of weather forecasting and around here, it's very difficult."

The Cubs are currently in a stretch of 16 straight days with a scheduled game before Saturday's rainout.

The Brewers were in a stretch of 24 games in 25 days before Saturday, but they also have an off-day coming up Monday after the series finale at Wrigley.

As far as a possible competitive advantage the Cubs could've gained from postponing Saturday's game, the main thought is letting a worn out bullpen rest. 

But even with the rain delay Friday, the Cubs still never turned to Wade Davis, Carl Edwards Jr., Hector Rondon or Koji Uehara, so all four pitchers would've been available on Saturday with at least one day's rest under their belts.

The Cubs also made a move to send down Pierce Johnson after his MLB debut before - and after - Friday's delay and call up Dylan Floro, who would represent another fresh arm in the bullpen.

Kris Bryant knocks out Brewers and knows what big-game experience means for Cubs

Kris Bryant knocks out Brewers and knows what big-game experience means for Cubs

MILWAUKEE – Teammates swarmed Kris Bryant in Miller Park’s visiting dugout late Thursday night, flinging sunflower seeds and forming a mosh pit around the National League’s reigning MVP.

Are you not entertained? The Cubs haven’t always played with this urgency or made it easy while nursing a World Series hangover. But they can feel it now, how close they are to October and how much they learned last year while making history.

It’s too early to pop champagne bottles, but the Cubs won a huge swing game in the NL Central race, beating the Milwaukee Brewers in the 10th inning when Bryant blasted Oliver Drake’s 92-mph fastball off a beam underneath the gigantic video board.

The Cubs watched it ricochet back onto the right-center field grass for a go-ahead two-run homer, bumping up the division lead to 4.5 games while cutting the magic number to clinch the division down to six.

After a head-spinning 5-3 victory that lasted 3 hours and 57 minutes and ended at 11:08 p.m., Bryant didn’t sound surprised or overexcited, the same way he didn’t overreact when the Cubs struggled to gain traction before the All-Star break and the Brewers swept the defending World Series champs two weekends ago at Wrigley Field.       

“We’ve done that so many times,” Bryant said. “We’ve had a nice run with that. I guess it is experience. The heartbeats aren’t going too fast when the game’s on the line there. It kind of plays to our advantage.”

So did the Brewers pushing their bullpen so hard this week trying to catch up that Cubs manager Joe Maddon would have to admit “their A-listers were not available,” meaning Corey Knebel, Anthony Swarzak and Josh Hader. Classic response from Bryant, who has 28 homers and likes to think of pitchers as nameless, faceless opponents: “I didn’t find out their top three guys were down until after the game was over.”

Maybe that changes the ninth-inning rally against Jeremy Jeffress where Ian Happ sprinted for a “Respect 90” single and scored the game-tying run when Javier Baez delivered a two-out, two-strike single up the middle. But the Cubs are in their element now, playing games that matter, not what-if.

“I just think we like loud,” Maddon said. “I think we’re a little bit like adrenaline junkies with the fact we’re used to 40,000 people a night.”

Just look at the stone face Wade Davis made in the ninth inning, escaping a bases-loaded jam by striking out Domingo Santana swinging at an elevated 95-mph fastball and forcing Orlando Arcia to chop a 3-2 pitch back to the mound. The All-Star closer who’s 32-for-32 in save chances went back out for the 10th inning and struck out the side to notch the win. That is a five-out playbook Maddon can use in October.

“You definitely feel it,” Davis said of the playoff atmosphere in a road stadium filled with Cubs fans. “It’s a lot easier to get up for the moment itself instead of having to create it yourself. You feel that.”

As Cubs move closer to division title, Jake Arrieta looks ready for October

As Cubs move closer to division title, Jake Arrieta looks ready for October

MILWAUKEE – This was the type of game Jake Arrieta visualizes, a loud atmosphere with 35,114 fans on their feet and an opponent that really doesn’t like the Cubs at all.

This one would ultimately be out of his hands, lasting 10 innings and almost 4 hours on Thursday night at Miller Park, but Arrieta looked like a Game 1 starter as the Cubs roared back for a 5-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Those playoff plans are coming into focus, the magic number to win the National League Central title down to six and Arrieta managing the Grade 1 right hamstring strain that has been one of the biggest question marks hanging over the defending World Series champs.

“It’s just good to be back out there,” Arrieta said. “These are big games, and I want to be a part of as many as I can, especially to try and clinch the division as quick as possible and then kind of line things up for us in October. But we got to get there first.”

Arrieta threw his first real pitch in 18 days at 7:16 p.m., firing a 92-mph fastball toward Brewers leadoff guy Eric Sogard and giving the Cubs a shot of adrenaline. That always wears off, but the Cubs are a different team when Arrieta sticks his chest out and triggers his perfect posture into a crossfire delivery.

Arrieta looked sharp in his first real action since Labor Day, even as his five-inning, 71-pitch limit exposed how fragile this pitching staff might be right now. If it’s not Jon Lester laboring at the top of the rotation, it’s the softer spots in the middle of the bullpen, or questions about how much wear and tear the Cubs can take after a deep playoff run in 2015 and last year’s World Series madness stretched into early November. 

But Arrieta basically picked up where he left off as the NL pitcher of the month for August, realigning his unique mechanics and generating enough power from his right leg, restarting the momentum in a second half where he’s shown the flashes of dominance you saw during his 2015 Cy Young Award season. 

Arrieta exited this game with a 2-1 lead – before it spun out of control – and passed one test by hustling to cover first base to complete an inning-ending 3-6-1 double play in the fifth. He walked just one of the 20 hitters he faced and could really only regret one pitch in the fourth inning, the 92-mph fastball Domingo Santana drilled off the batter’s eye in center field.

“I felt OK,” Arrieta said. “I can tell that something happened. I think it’s just the residual feeling of something like a hamstring strain. But no pain, really no discomfort. That’s a good sign.

“Tomorrow is the biggest indicator moving forward of how we’ll be able to approach this. I don’t see any reason that I won’t feel good tomorrow.”

Arrieta is scheduled to make two more regular-season starts, but this dramatic comeback means the Cubs might be able to treat those as controlled experiments instead of must-win situations.

“Just an incredible baseball game,” Arrieta said. “This is a really awesome time to be in an organization like this, in a division like the NL Central, where there’s a couple teams that have playoff aspirations in mind. If we take care of business here over the next few days, we get a couple steps closer.”