By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — A makeup game between the top two teams in the National League Central had different ramifications for both the division-leading Brewers and the defending champion Cubs on Thursday afternoon.
For the Cubs, it was a game in which they could’ve pushed back to within one game in the loss column of the division lead. The Brewers had something else on their mind.
Behind starter Zach Davies, Milwaukee made a statement with an 11-2 win at Wrigley Field.
“Everyone’s mindset was a little upset,” Davies said. “We had a night game last night and (the Cubs ) rescheduled a day game for today. I think as a team we wanted to put it on early. That kind of showed right out of the gate.”
The end result gave the Brewers a season-high 4.5-game lead in the division. The return of Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber from the minor leagues was heartening but had no real impact on this particular day. Schwarber went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and two groundouts.
“Honestly, there is nothing much to talk about,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “That game goes into the trash can as fast as any game we have ever played. We just didn’t pitch well early. It is very difficult to fight back from that moment.”
Cubs starter Mike Mongomery was roughed up for seven runs, all earned, in 2 1/3 innings. The rest of the day was more like spring training baseball. By the seventh inning, regulars from both teams had been pulled for rest purposes. Outfielder Jon Jay pitched a scoreless ninth for the Cubs, featuring a 46-mph eephus pitch.
Does one game make a statement or is it just another one in a season that has 77 more left to play? Time will tell, but Montgomery didn’t back away from his poor performance or the importance of this game.
“Today I didn’t feel any different,” he said. “I have been throwing the ball pretty well. You just have to give them a lot of credit. They put together some good at-bats against me. I was not really able to locate my fastball. That was frustrating.
“Unfortunately, I put up that kind of performance against the Brewers when we are trying to chase them now. We have to stay within ourselves. You also want to give them credit. They are a good team. They are in first place for a reason. We believe in ourselves and what we can do. We believe it is still right there for us.”
Maddon is hoping his team isn’t getting caught up in the present standings.
“If we take care of today and just worry about ourselves, we eventually do what we want to do,” he said. “Obviously, you want to go out there and win today’s ballgame. It just got off too poorly. We lost control of it very early. I don’t want us to dwell on that for even the 30-minute rule. Just throw it away.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.