CHICAGO -- An embarrassing season for the Chciago Cubs got even more humbling as they were pushed around in the ninth inning of a 14-5 defeat to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Newcomer Alex Hinshaw and rookie Lendy Castillo were hit so hard in the final inning that manager Dale Sveum turned over the pitching duties to infielder/outfielder Joe Mather, making him the definition of a super sub.
When the dust cleared, the Brewers had buried the Cubs under the weight of nine ninth-inning runs, turning a close game into a laugher between the division rivals.
Mather gave up an RBI single in the ninth inning, but did manage to record the last out. Hinshaw couldn’t even say that as he gave up three consecutive home runs at one point while allowing five runs without retiring a batter.
“Obviously it’s never what you want to do,” said Mather, who had a two-inning pitching appearance for the Cardinals in 2010 during a lengthy extra-inning game. “You don’t want to have to come in and pitch. I know Dale doesn’t want to have somebody come in and throw like that. It’s just an unfortunate thing you have to do and tonight we got out of it pretty quick.”
Mather faced just two batters while throwing a slow-motion fastball and a lollipop curveball. All four of his pitches were for strikes. The right-hander arrived to the mound with a smirk on his face, as a way to acknowledge the awkward situation, but afterward in a somber clubhouse nobody was laughing.
Mather was asked if it was cruel for a team that is having such a long season had to go through an evening like that.
“In a way,” he said. “I never want to go out there and have to throw, especially in the circumstance we did. If I go out and throw, a position player goes out and throws, hopefully it’s a 20-inning game where it’s a close game. It was fine. It was nice to help the team out.”
The issues weren’t just confined to the ninth inning, though. Much improved infielders Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney had their issues as Castro made two errors and Barney’s footwork was out of sync on one double-play attempt.
“I’ll address it but it isn’t because we lost by that score,” Sveum said.
Rookie Brett Jackson did manage to hit his fourth home run in nine days, but that was lost in the shuffle by the time it was over.
“We win and lose as a team,” Jackson said. “Everyone feels that. Everyone felt that long inning and everyone feels this loss. Obviously it’s tougher for those guys that were on the mound just as it was tough for those guys in the field. We’ll pick each other up tomorrow. We’re going to have fun with this series. In baseball you always have tomorrow.”