The Brewers got seven RBI from Jonathan Lucroy and a career-high five hits from Rickie Weeks on Thursday. What they didn’t get was a victory, as Milwaukee pitchers walked 11 batters and blew leads of 9-3 in the sixth and 11-9 in the ninth in a 12-11 loss to the Cubs.
The latest huge letdown from the Milwaukee pen came on a day in which closer John Axford was unavailable. Francisco Rodriguez gave up three runs in the ninth to take his seventh blown save and seventh loss.
Lucroy, incredibly, delivered his second seven-RBI game of the season in a losing cause. He had a grand slam off Cubs starter Brooks Riley and three hits in all. Lucroy is the 24th player since 1918 to amass two seven-RBI games in a season, joining such luminaries as Lou Gehrig (3 times in 1930 and twice in 1934), Babe Ruth (1929), Jimmie Foxx (1933 and ’38) and Ralph Kiner (1950 and ’51). Ben Zobrist was the last to do it in 2011. Before him, it was done by Derrek Lee in 2009 and Cody Ross in 2006.
Lucroy was the fourth player in the last five years to drive in seven runs in a losing cause, joining Kansas City’s Jose Guillen (2008 against NYY), Minnesota’s Justin Morneau (2009 against Oakland) and Philadelphia’s Carlos Ruiz (2012 against Atlanta). He’s the first player in Brewers history to pull it off.
The Cubs won the game without the benefit of a homer. They did have six doubles, two each from David DeJesus, Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson, and a triple from Starlin Castro. Alfonso Soriano delivered the game-winner in the ninth.
Riley was let off the hook after allowing seven runs and 10 hits in four innings. He’s expected to be shut down for the rest of the season, leaving him with an 8.14 ERA in five starts as a rookie. Brewers starter Shaun Marcum returned from the DL only to leave with a calf injury after allowing three runs in four innings.
On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.
Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.
The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.