Chris Narveson (MIL): 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 0 HR (85 pitches, 51 strikes)
Paul Maholm (CHC): 4 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 2 HR (80 pitches, 45 strikes)
Jonathan Lucroy: 2-4, BB, HR
Carlos Gomez: 2-5, 2B
Ryan Braun: 1-4, 2 almost-home runs
David DeJesus: 2-4
Alfonso Soriano: 2-4
— The weather was pretty unpleasant, and it probably had a greater effect on the game than most players: It was 40 degrees at gametime with 10 mph winds, and the conditions only got more unpleasant as the night went on. Every Brewer was wearing sleeves, and at least half had neck warmers on, with a few players looking openly confused as to why they were outside in this weather. All in all, it was a good game to be watching from the comfort of your living room.
– It wasn’t a good night for Paul Maholm. The Cubs starter allowed five runs in the first inning, thanks to two walks, two hit batsmen, a home run, and a double. The cold was probably a factor, as four walks would usually be a couple of starts worth for Maholm. He was able to settle down, getting through the fourth inning while allowing just one more, but the damage had been done.
— Chris Narveson, the Brewers’ starter, had a solid start, leaving after five innings with the huge lead he was given in pretty good shape. Narveson had to deal with some hits and errors, namely a botched double play by Alex Gonzalez, but you can file this one under “good enough”.
— Narveson was aided by some excellent middle relief, especially Kameron Loe, who worked a scoreless seventh and eighth. A lot of people still don’t think think much of Loe’s pitching — usually because of his failed stint as Ron Roenicke’s “Eighth Inning Guy” last year — but he was the one pitcher who really used the cold to his advantage:
(As usual, strike zone plots are from Brooks Baseball)
We’re obviously not dealing with a huge sample, but it appears that Loe made an effort to throw the ball down and in on hitters from both sides of the plate, Given the near-freezing temperatures, that must have been a lot of fun for the batters he faced. (I’m guessing a significant portion of our readers grew up in Wisconsin, so this shouldn’t need further explanation.) Throughout his career, Loe has gone down and away more than any other location, but it appears he was able to tweak his approach tonight, to good effect.
— Just like last night, however, various relievers made the ninth inning more interesting than it had to be. Jose Veras started the ninth with the Brewers leading 7-3, but a home run and walk caused Roenicke to turn to his closer with two outs to go — only this time, the closer was Francisco Rodriguez. K-Rod got a strikeout and groundout to retire the side without incident. The extra drama over the last couple games is a bit unsettling, but it’s hard to be especially worried about the bullpen as long as John Axford and K-Rod are around to close things out.