The Milwaukee Brewers earned a statement win Wednesday night, converting in clutch moments to beat the Chicago Cubs 5-1 at Wrigley Field.
The win pulled the Brewers within a game of the division-leading Cubs and capped a record of 4-2 against them in the last ten days.
Key in the game was Chicago-native Curtis Granderson who went 3-4 with a triple, home run and HBP. In eight games so far with the Brewers, the 37-year old is hitting .455 with 2 home runs and 8 runs scored.
Although Chicago will win the season series with an 11-8 record, the last six matchups have been a litmus test for the Brewers in proving how far they’ve come since the beginning of the season. Christian Yelich has turned into a legitimate MVP candidate, while Lorenzo Cain, Jesus Aguilar and Ryan Braun have developed into a terrific supporting cast.
But without question, the most important part of this Milwaukee team has been the bullpen. One of the best in the majors, it proved its mettle once again Wednesday as five relievers combined to go five innings with just one earned run. Josh Hader recorded the win, striking out three batters (including likely MVP Javier Baez) in a scoreless eighth.
In three innings of work in the series, Hader struck out nine, allowing only one baserunner.
At certain times during the series, the class of the National League looked a little sloppy and lethargic. Wednesday was day 23 of a stretch that includes 30 games in 30 days for the Cubs.
Wednesday marked the last time the Brewers and Cubs will play each other in the regular season, but a potential NL Division series matchup looms if both teams can take care of business the rest of the way. Milwaukee has the easier schedule (vs. PIT, vs. CIN, @ PIT, @STL, vs. DET), with only one of their remaining five series coming against a +.500 ball club. Chicago will look to retain their one-game lead against the likes of (vs. CIN, @ ARI, @ CWS, vs. PIT, vs. STL).
Rivalry or not, the Milwaukee Brewers are coming the Chicago Cubs.