Long before the rains and the walks arrived, Cubs manager spoke of the difficulties that can come over the course of baseball’s long regular season. But perhaps, more than his words, Maddon’s choice of pregame fashion spoke even more truth.
Embrace The Suck, Maddon’s shirt, emblazoned with his latest brand of three-word wisdom, read.
The Maddon mantra, printed atop an image of his signature black-framed glasses and a set of dog chains, serves as a reminder that if the Cubs are to remain among baseball’s elite, they’re going to have to endure their share of adversity. On Friday, the difficulties arrived in the form of 10 walks issued by Cubs pitchers in a 6-3 rain-soaked loss to the first-place Brewers at Wrigley Field.
The loss, which included a rain delay of 1 hour, 59 minutes, snapped the Cubs’ three-game winning streak and brought them back to only one game over .500.
“Today, it just wasn’t happening,” Maddon said. “…The game was swung on the fact we weren’t able to throw strikes more consistently.”
Eddie Butler, making his second start with the Cubs, provided Exhibit A. Butler struggled with his command throughout his three-plus innings when he gave up only three hits, but walked five. He threw 92 pitches – including 40 in the first inning when he surrendered three walks and gave up a two-out, two-run single to Jett Bandy.
Butler walked two more hitters before reliever Mike Montgomery entered and yielded three more walks over two innings. His final walk snapped a 3-3 tie when Montgomery walked pinch-hitter Jesus Agular with the bases loaded in the fifth inning and continued a trend Butler had started.
“It’s unacceptable to do that out there,” Butler said. “I need to go out there and give them five innings and keep them in the game.”
The Cubs responded with three runs in the fourth inning when they strung together consecutive singles by Anthony Rizzo, Ian Happ and Ben Zobrist. Willson Contreras delivered a two-run single that gave the Cubs a 4-3 lead after Brewers starter Paolo Espino didn’t allow a hit until Jon Jay’s RBI single in the third inning in his major league debut.
The Cubs trailed by a run when umpires stopped the game in the sixth inning with heavy rains falling. Play was stopped immediately after left fielder Kyle Schwarber was charged with two errors on the same play. Schwarber charged a wind-blown Johnathan Villar pop fly which kept blowing back toward shortstop Javier Baez.
The ball slipped out of his glove before Schwarber attempted to throw to out Eric Thames at second base with a back-handed throw. The throw sailed wide, which allowed Thames to advance to third base and Villar to reach second. The string of events led to even more trouble for the Cubs.
“(The conditions) were tough, man. It’s tough, it’s dangerous – anything can happen,” Baez said.
Following the lengthy delay, Domingo Santana extended the Brewers’ lead with a two-run single off of reliever Pierce Johnson,…