Brewers fall in finale at Wrigley
Some of it wasn’t.
The Milwaukee Brewers’ right-hander typically pounds the strike zone and does not miss many bats in the process. He pitches to contact and gives up his share of hits.
One thing he does not do is lose his command and offer free passes.
Bush showed both sides in facing 28 batters in 5 1/3 innings as the Brewers dropped the series finale, 6-3, to the Chicago Cubs on a cold Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
“I had a hard time throwing strikes,” Bush said. “I got a lot of movement on the ball, but I had a hard time throwing it in the zone.”
Bush allowed six hits, including a home run, and six runs and struck out four. He also walked a career-high five, two of whom scored and another who forced in a run.
The Brewers scored early for Bush when Rickie Weeks led off the game with a walk and Tony Gwynn Jr. doubled down the left-field line, putting two runners in scoring position for Prince Fielder.
Weeks tagged up on Fielder’s sacrifice fly to right field, and the throw from Kosuke Fukudome was up the third-base line, leading catcher Geovany Soto into the base path. Weeks plowed over him to score. The ball went to the backstop, allowing Gwynn to score the second run.
“I’m watching the ball to see if I’m going to have a play at the plate,” Weeks said. “Then as soon as I turned and looked, (Soto) was way up the line. My first reaction was to just go through him.”
Soto said there was nothing dirty about the play because he was in Weeks’ path to the plate.
After the Cubs went down in order in the first inning, Aramis Ramirez drew Bush’s first walk to lead off the bottom of the second. After Fukudome doubled, Mark DeRosa singled to score Ramirez. Soto followed with a sacrifice fly to score Fukudome to tie the score, 2-2.
Bush, who walked only 44 batters in 186 1/3 innings last season, had another 1-2-3 inning in the third but lost his command in the fourth. Fukudome led off with a walk, and DeRosa was hit with a 0-2 fastball that “just got away” from Bush. Another freebie to Soto loaded the bases.
Bush started to work his way out of the jam by striking out Felix Pie and Ryan Dempster, but he again lost control and walked Alfonso Soriano—who had been hitless in the series— on four pitches to force in a run and give the Cubs a 3-2 lead.
“I tried to limit the damage the best I could, but I put myself in a tough spot,” Bush said. “I’m going to give up quite a few hits. That’s always the case, but as long as I can limit my walks, I’m OK.
“When you put guys on base in front of those, I make it a lot more difficult on myself.”
The temperature dipped to the mid-40s during the game with light wind. The cold wasn’t an excuse for his lack of command, Bush said, but it did make it hard to grip the ball.
Brewers manager Ned Yost thought the weather could have contributed to Bush’s struggles, but also noted that Chicago starter Dempster pitched six innings and allowed two runs on three hits in the same conditions.
“That’s uncharacteristic of him,” Yost said of Bush’s five walks. “But again the conditions were a little rough out there. (It’s) tough to get a feel for the ball. I know I was freezing to death the whole game. Pitchers go by feel on their fingertips.”
Gwynn came out of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning after he felt his left hamstring “grab” as he ran out a ground ball in the fifth. He said he broke up scare tissue in the leg while on deck in the first inning, but it got loose and felt better as he played.
But when he felt a twinge of pain running to first base, he was taken out as a precaution and is day-to-day. Gwynn had a similar injury last year and he was shut down until it felt better.
“It’s very frustrating,” said Gwynn, who is the primary fill-in while center fielder Mike Cameron serves a 25-game suspension. “Escpecially when I’m swinging the bat as well as I’m swinging it right now. I was definitely nervous and scared when it happened.
“It doesn’t seem as severe as last year. Right now, it’s just sore.”