The Milwaukee Brewers won’t be one and done in this year’s MLB playoffs. The Brewers went to Wrigley Field and beat the Chicago Cubs 3-1 in a tiebreaker game to claim the NL Central crown, relegating the Cubs to Tuesday’s one game Wild Card playoff against the loser of Monday’s Rockies-Dodgers NL West tiebreaker.
Milwaukee’s victory in the tiebreaker game was spurred on mainly by two players – NL MVP favorite Christian Yelich, and light-hitting shortstop Orlando Arcia. Yelich went 3/4 on the day, and drove in Arcia with a third inning single for the first run of the game. Arcia went 4/4 and scored two runs, including the game-winner in the eighth inning after a single from Lorenzo Cain.
Monday’s two Brewers stars couldn’t have had more different seasons – Yelich is the best hitter in the National League and has carried the Brewers in the second half of the season. Arcia, on the other hand, had only played in 118 games this season, and had a lower slugging percentage (.299) than Yelich’s batting average (.323).
The Cubs’ offense was dormant all day. Their lone run came in the fifth inning courtesy of an Anthony Rizzo solo homer off of Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin. Chacin ended his day by allowing just the one hit and one run over 5 2/3 innings, walking two Cubs and striking out three. The Cubs’ best chance came in the sixth, when Xavier Cedeno allowed a single to Daniel Murphy and a walk to Ben Zobrist with two outs, but Javier Baez was struck out by Joakim Soria to end the threat. Chicago didn’t put another runner on base until the ninth inning, when Baez singled with two outs.
The Brewers chased Cubs started Jose Quintana after five innings, but put men on base in five of the first six innings to make his day more complicated. After two perfect innings from Jesse Chavez, Milwaukee got to the Cubs bullpen in the eighth. Arcia led the inning off with a single against Justin Wilson, and Domingo Santana followed up with a pinch hit double to put men on second and third with none out. Cain then followed up with a single off of Steve Cishek to score Arcia and make it 2-1, and after Yelich struck out, Ryan Braun singled off of Brandon Kintzler to score Santana and make it 3-1.
Milwaukee’s bullpen was excellent on Monday, throwing 3 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits, one walk, and striking out five. Three of those strikeouts came courtesy of Josh Hader, who threw a pair of scoreless innings to finish off the Cubs and pick up the save.
The Brewers were in first place in the NL Central for much of the first half, but fell out of the top spot on August 1st. They eventually fell to third place, six back of the Cubs, by the end of August, but rallied in September by going 19-7 to reclaim first place on Saturday and winning the division crown on Monday.
Their next date with the Cubs could come as soon as Thursday, if Chicago wins Tuesday’s NL Wild Card game with either the Rockies or Dodgers at Wrigley Field.