Saturday night at Miller Park, the Cubs suffered a brutal 10th inning loss to the Brewers (MIL 5, CHC 3) that saw their bullpen blow a late-inning lead for the second straight game. On Friday, Ben Gamel had the go-ahead hit. On Saturday, it took multiple Brewers.
The player of the game was, clearly, rookie Keston Hiura. His night included a rather embarrassing moment too. In the sixth inning Hiura trotted around the bases, thinking he hit a game-tying two-run home run against Jon Lester. The problem? The ball hooked foul at the last moment. Replay confirmed it. Hiura later struck out to end the inning.
An embarrassing moment, to be sure. Hiura can laugh about it now because the Brewers won the game, but yeah, he’s going to hear about that in kangaroo court.
Hiura went on to have a huge impact later in the game. With the tying run at third base in the eighth inning, Hiura chopped a two-out game-tying double to right field against Tyler Chatwood. After believing he tied the game with a homer in the sixth, Hiura tied it for real in the eighth.
The score remained 2-2 into the top of the 10th inning, when Albert Almora deposited a Freddy Peralta fastball over the left-center field wall for a go-ahead solo home run. With all-world closer Craig Kimbrel signed and available in the bullpen, it sure seemed like the Cubs were about to escape Saturday night with a win. Alas.
Christian Yelich, the first batter Kimbrel faced in the bottom of the 10th, swatted a game-tying solo home run the other way to left field. It was Yelich’s MLB-leading 36th homer of the season. After Kimbrel walked Tyler Saladino to put the game-winning run on base, Hiura stepped to the plate for the fifth time of the night. Take it away, Keston:
That is an absurd piece of hitting. Kimbrel left the two-strike curveball up a little bit, but the only thing Hiura could do with that pitch was drive it the other way, and drive it the other way he did. Coming into the season, MLB.com’s scouting report said Hiura has “huge upside as a middle-of-the-order bat,” and we saw it right there.
The home run is No. 11 on the season for Hiura, and it was his first career walk-off job. He went 2 for 4 with a game-tying double and a walk-off home run Saturday (plus he narrowly missed another homer), raising his season batting line to .333/.399/.635 through 42 big league games. That is star production.
Saturday’s win combined with the Cardinals losing to the Astros (HOU 8, STL 2) moved the Brewers to within one game of first place in the NL Central. The Cubs (55-49) are percentage points ahead of the Brewers (56-50) and sit one game behind St. Louis as well. Quite a race we have, uh, brewing in the NL Central.