Kyle Schwarber‘s unplanned cameo in the infield Friday ended with him lying belly-first in the mud between second and third base.
Schwarber was charged with two errors on one play after he charged from left field during a soggy sixth inning, trying to catch Jonathan Villar’s tricky popup. The ball bounced off Schwarber’s glove and fell between him and shortstop Javier Baez.
“I thought I had it the whole time,” Baez said. “I messed up.”
Schwarber compounded the miscue when, after retrieving the ball, he botched a flip to second while trying to force out Eric Thames. Both Thames and Villar eventually scored.
And so it went on a 46-degree day fit more for late October than late May, a day when Cubs pitchers walked 10, the Cubs defense made three errors and the few fans who braved the conditions were treated to a replay of postseason highlights from 2016 for a couple of hours until play resumed.
“That ball should never happen,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the popup. “That’s why they pulled the tarp. … The conditions weren’t baseball-esque.
“Please don’t blame Schwarber. That’s very unjust. The wind and where that ball blew back to, he made a great attempt at it.”
Save for inning-ending, run-saving, diving catches from second baseman Ben Zobrist to end the first and Schwarber in left to end the third, there were few highlights for the Cubs.
Butler averaged a pitch every 30 seconds during the top of the first, which took 20 minutes and 40 pitches to complete.
Three walks, two runs, one hit, two strikeouts and Zobrist’s play later, the Cubs found themselves in a familiar hole. The team’s starters have allowed 45 runs in the first inning, worst in baseball with a 1.10 average.
“Just couldn’t get a good feel of the baseball,” said Butler, who threw 92 pitches, half of which were balls. “I sprayed the fastball around, never really was able to establish it.”
In the process, the National League Central-leading Brewers (25-18) upped their baseball-best average of first-inning runs to 1.05.
Butler lasted three-plus innings, forcing the Cubs to go to the bullpen yet again for extended innings.
“Our inability to get longer starts really has put us in a bind with that extra guy in the bullpen,” Maddon said. “Today really typifies that.”
The Cubs (21-20) took around three minutes to go down in order in their half of the first against Paolo Espino, who was making his major-league debut, and the Brewers lowered their MLB-best first-inning runs-allowed average to 0.28.
In the fifth, Montgomery allowed a double, a single and three walks, the last of which forced home Brewers…