|11:10 AM PT12:10 PM MT1:10 PM CT2:10 PM ET14:10 ET18:10 GMT2:10 11:10 AM MST1:10 PM EST1:40 PM VEN22:10 UAE1:10 PM CT, September 8, 2019
Miller Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin Attendance: 44,217
Brewers aim to make up more ground on Cubs
The Chicago Cubs might face their most important game of the season Sunday when they visit the Milwaukee Brewers to wrap up a four-game series.
The Cubs are coming off back-to-back losses against the Brewers and have fallen 3 1/2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the National League Central. Chicago squandered a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning Saturday night and fell short 3-2 on a walk-off double by Christian Yelich.
Oh, and the Cubs will be without shortstop Javier Baez for the foreseeable future because of a hairline fracture in his left thumb.
"Javy's the heart of this team," Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said in comments published by the Chicago Sun-Times. "He plays for us with his head on fire. We're going to miss him a lot. But like somebody said once, 'One steps out, one steps in.'"
Addison Russell will take over for Baez, but will it be enough? Russell clubbed his ninth homer on Saturday but also committed a throwing error during the ninth inning that preceded Yelich's heroics.
Milwaukee has climbed within three games of the Cubs in the chase for the NL's second wild-card spot. The Brewers are 9-9 against the Cubs this season and boast an impressive 42-31 record at home, compared with a 31-37 record on the road.
Right-hander Adrian Houser (6-5, 3.45 ERA) will try to keep the good times rolling for Milwaukee in his 14th appearance and eighth start of the season. Houser is 2-0 with a 1.63 ERA in his past five starts. He has nine walks and 28 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings during that span.
In six appearances (one start) against the Cubs in his career, Houser is 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA.
The Cubs will counter with veteran left-hander Jon Lester (12-9, 4.19), who will make his 28th start. Lester is seeking career win No. 190 and is coming off a solid performance in which he pitched six scoreless innings against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.
Lester is 5-3 with a 2.10 ERA in 10 career starts against the Brewers. He has 66 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings against the club.
Milwaukee likely will be without hard-throwing closer Josh Hader after he pitched two innings and earned the victory Saturday. But the Brewers are confident in their depth in terms of both pitching and position players.
"I believe September baseball benefits us as much or more than any other team in baseball," Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun recently told reporters. "I don't know everybody's roster as well as ours, but we utilize all 40 spots and we have some opportunity to mix and match and play matchups to make us a lot better."
The Cubs insist that they can make a run at the playoffs even if Baez is out for an extended period.
"It's a big blow for our team," Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo told reporters. "As professionals, we have to step up. We're obviously (losing) an All-Star on and off the field, a perennial MVP candidate. So that's not easy. But we can't just hang our heads. We've got to play."
--Field Level Media
Updated September 8, 2019