After scoring only seven runs in three games at Cincinnati, the Cubs’ bats exploded early against the Brewers Friday night in the first game of the series in Milwaukee. The Cubs took advantage of a very sloppy first inning in which Brewers pitcher Dave Bush gave up a hit to almost everyone – including Michael Barrett, who saw his non-existent average soar to a subpar .133 by the end of the series.
Mark DeRosa and Aramis Ramirez continued their hot offensive starts to the young season with DeRosa hitting a two-run homer and Ramirez driving in a run and scoring in the first inning. Ronny Cedeno connected for a home run later and even 56-year-old Cliff Floyd knocked in a pair of runs before the Cubs went on to win 9-3.
“At first I thought that noise was my knees popping,” said Floyd after the game. “But luckily it was just the crack of the bat.”
Rich Hill was in vintage minor-league form, retiring the first 15 batters he faced and giving up only one hit in his first start of the season, showing the Cubs and Lou Piniella he can be lights-out in the majors in much the same way he finished up the 2006 campaign.
Carlos Zambrano took the hill in the second game versus Milwaukee on Saturday, vindicating himself after the poor start he made to open the season at Cincinnati last Monday. Although it was not Zambrano’s best performance, he pitched effectively enough for the Cubs to come away with the win, giving up three runs and five hits in seven innings of work.
The Cubs continued to hit, with Aramis Ramirez hitting a two-run homer and Derrek Lee connecting for three knocks and driving in a run. Mark DeRosa also drove in a run with a triple in the second. Zambrano then helped his own cause by driving in DeRosa with a single. The Cubs would go on to win 6-3.
Sunday would not be as kind to Cubs pitching, with Wade Miller proving he’s not that much different from Mark Prior, giving up six runs to the Brewers. Geoff Jenkins hit a two-run homer and Gabe Gross would follow with a solo shot, putting the Brewers up 3-0. Former Cub Damian Miller hit a double and later scored on a Chris Capuano single.
The Cubs staged a four-run rally in the sixth, with Jacque Jones hitting a single and scoring thanks to an Alfonso Soriano double and an errant catch by Capuano on a Ryan Theriot grounder to Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder. Theriot scored on a double by Derrek Lee, who scored after an RBI single by Michael Barrett.
However, the rally would not be enough. Scott Eyre gave up three runs in relief, burying the Cubs, who lost the third and final game of the series 9-4.
Wade Miller, who experienced a lot of success versus Milwaukee over the course of his career, blamed confusion for his poor performance on the mound.
“You have to consider the ‘Miller factor,'” the Cubs’ fifth starter said. “My last name is Miller, the name of the park is Miller, the Brewer catcher’s name is Miller, and half the people in the crowd were drinking Miller beer. It’s all so confusing and I couldn’t concentrate. But I like to think I pitched better than [Mark] Prior would have.”
Number of the Weekend: 34
The number of times WGN-TV broadcasters Len Kasper and Bob Brenly referred to eating Bratwursts in Milwaukee.
Number of the Weekend Part II: 3
Consecutive years they have exchanged this exact banter.