Preview: Brewers vs. Cubs
MILWAUKEE — After leading the National League with 115 errors last season, Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell said he thought his team had made strides in that department during spring training.
And even after they committed 11 errors over their last six games, including a pair in the ninth inning that led to a four-run rally by the Cubs and a third loss in four games, Counsell still said he thinks his team is a good defensive unit.
“We’ve made too many infield mistakes, there’s no question,” Counsell said after Saturday’s 5-2 loss. “We’ve made a bunch of infield mistakes, but I think they are a good defensive infield.”
They will try to clean things up Sunday and salvage a split of their four-game series with the Cubs behind right-hander Chase Anderson.
Anderson worked six shutout innings Opening Day but struggled against the Cardinals his last time out, giving up four runs on eight hits over four innings, opening the game by allowing back-to-back home runs. He is 3-2 with a 3.79 ERA in seven starts versus Chicago.
“He wasn’t crisp,” Counsell said. “The two homers stung him fast and put him on his heels a little bit. He had a good changeup, but he was struggling to put hitters away.
It wasn’t his night, but he kept it at four. I thought through four innings, keeping it at four was a good point and our bullpen did a great job.”
That’s been a common refrain for the Brewers this season as their starting rotation gets off to yet another slow start.
Before two more errors triggered a four-run ninth against Jacob Barnes on Saturday, Milwaukee’s relievers had combined to post a 4-0 record and 2.21 ERA while holding batters to a .212 average and 12 walks while striking out 37 in 36 2/3 innings.
But as was the case last season when Brewers’ starters had issues going deep into games, the workload was building up and an already short-handed group was dealt a mighty blow when all-star closer Corey Knebel was lost for at least a month because of a strained hamstring.
Milwaukee bolstered its bullpen Saturday, adding right-hander J.J. Hoover from Triple-A Colorado Springs and, after Matt Albers and Josh Hader were unavailable Saturday, should have a full complement of fresh arms for the series finale.
“We’ve logged a lot of innings here and some guys had some long appearances (Saturday),” Counsell said. “J.J. is fresh and ready to go.”
Chicago will try to take the series behind left-hander Jose Quintana. He took the loss in his season debut April 1 at Miami, allowing six runs on six hits in six innings.
“I felt great out there,” said Quintana, who was cruising until Miami’s five-run fifth. “One bad inning changed everything.”
Quintana has had plenty of success against Milwaukee, going 2-1 with a 0.90 ERA in four career starts.
Only one of those came after he was traded across town from the White Sox to the Cubs last summer, but it was a memorable one as Quintana threw 112 pitches in a complete-game shutout Sept. 24. He scattered three hits with a walk and struck out 10 in that outing, which effectively ended Milwaukee’s hopes of winning the NL Central.