MILWAUKEE — The atmosphere Tuesday night at Miller Park was fun and jovial, with large numbers of fans sporting Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers jerseys.
It felt kind of like a friendly rivalry.
The Brewers fans in the crowd of 37, 269 did most of the cheering as the home team routed the Cubs, 11-1. The Cubs committed two errors and had a passed ball charged against them. Their pitchers walked nine.
The Brewers moved within three games of the first-place Cubs in the National League Central. The third-place Cardinals moved to within 4 1/2 by beating Washington.
Games between the Cubs and Brewers have been a thing since 1998, when the Brewers moved from the American League to the National League. Who could forget Brant Brown’s dropped fly ball at old County Stadium in 1998 that gave the Brewers a September victory and could have cost the Cubs a playoff berth?
Cubs fans – as White Sox fans before them – enjoy making the trek up I-94 to catch a glimpse of their team on the road while making it sound like a home game.
Such was the case on Labor Day when the two teams went back and forth before the Brewers prevailed in the bottom of the ninth inning.
But is Cubs-Brewers a rivalry in the sense of Cubs-Cardinals? Maybe not yet, but it’s getting there, especially with the Brewers on the heels of the Cubs. It took a newcomer to the rivalry, Cubs pitcher Cole Hamels, to throw some cold water on the concept. After starting Monday’s game, Hamels said: “When you have a majority of Cubs fans in the stands, I don’t know if that’s a rivalry yet.”
Cubs manager Joe Maddon and Brewers boss Craig Counsell had their own takes Tuesday.
“Rivalries normally are created by fan bases, too, I think,” Maddon said. “I know the proximity is there, but the best I can describe it, legitimately the Cubs and Cardinals have created that. I’ve been involved in it in the past in different organizations – Dodgers and Angels. It’s a different feeling. You could go back to your high school days. You know what that feels like.
“You just can’t create a rivalry by writing that it is. It has to be felt. It has to be proven over time, I think.”
Counsell downplayed the rivalry conversation.
“I really look at, like, we’re spending way too much time trying to classify rivalries,” he said. “Enjoy the baseball games, man. I mean, home, road, I’m happy I’m in the building. Let’s be in the building and enjoy those games.”
The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the second before the Brewers tied it on a wild pitch by Cubs starter Mike Montgomery in the bottom half.
The Brewers got single runs in the fourth and fifth before they sent nine to the plate in a 3-run sixth, which featured a fielding error by shortstop Addison Russell and an error on a missed catch at first by Victor Caratini.
Caratini went into the game in the bottom of the sixth to replace Anthony Rizzo, who left the game with a bruised right foot. Rizzo fouled a ball off the foot in the third inning. The Cubs said X-rays were negative. After the game, Maddon said Rizzo told him he would be ready to go Wednesday night.
As for Montgomery, he knew the Brewers would be ready.
“We’ve got to play well to beat them,” said Montgomery who lasted four nnings. “They always play well against us. They always have that chip on their shoulder when we come here.”