It almost looked like they were going to pull it off.
The Chicago Cubs were down by four runs heading into the ninth inning in the series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers, but just couldn’t pull off the comeback bid, falling 7-5.
Chris Volstad made his first start for the Cubs on Monday, and wasn’t terribly good, but wasn’t bad either. He did have trouble locating his pitches, and left a lot of pitches up in the zone on a very windy day at Wrigley. He threw just five innings because of a high pitch count, surrendering three earned runs.
I still think he’s going to be a very good starter in the back of this rotation, once he can improve his command.
Volstad left with the Cubs and Crew knotted at three, but leave it to the bullpen to let that get away. Shawn Camp, perhaps unsurprisingly, surrendered another three earned runs, while Lendy Castillo was tagged for another earned run to put the Cubs down 7-3.
Then the ninth came. The Brewers went through three pitchers in the bottom of the ninth, before closer John Axford finally notched the save. But it wasn’t easy.
Ian Stewart started the inning with a double, before Geovany Soto walked. Marlon Byrd reached on an error by Aramis Ramirez , before Steve Clevenger popped a double to knock in Soto and put the tying run on base. Darwin Barney drew a walk to load the bases for Starlin Castro with two outs.
Castro had a bad day, and that at bat about summed it up. Sstarlin was 0-for-5 on the night, including his three pitch strikeout that ended the game, with the third strike coming on a fastball straight down the middle that he just stared at.
But even this loss comes with some encouragement. If this was a Mike Quade coached team, I’d bet on 7-3 being the final. But the Cubs were patient at the plate, Dale Sveum subbed guys in effectively, and they almost pulled off the ninth inning rally. If they had anything resembling a bullpen, just imagine the possibilities.