Villanueva laments 'heartbreaking' loss
Carlos Villanueva summed up this afternoon’s 6-5 loss to the Brewers this way:
“It’s heartbreaking. It’s a heartbreaking loss. It’s frustrating. It’s baseball. It happens. We go out there and try to do our jobs. Sometimes it doesn’t happen the way we want it to. When it happens more than once, more than twice, it’s obviously difficult on the day of.”
Villanueva looked in line for a victory as he left with a 5-2 lead in the seventh inning. The Brewers had two men on, and manager Dale Sveum brought lefty James Russell in to pitch to Khris Davis. On Russell’s first pitch, Davis homered to right field to tie the game and saddle Russell with his seventh blown save of the season. The Brewers scored another run off Russell, who had gone 12 straight scoreless appearances until today.
The Cubs are now 27-for-48 in save chances. Villanueva, who opened the season in the rotation before going to the pen and back to the rotation, has not won in his last 10 starts.
The 3-hour, 45-minute game was not a pretty one. Cubs third baseman Luis Valbuena made a “creative” play to end the top of the fourth. The Brewers had runners on second and third with two outs. Jeff Bianchi then grounded to Valbuena, who apparently lost track of the outs and came home with the ball instead of throwing to first base. Fortunately for the Cubs, catcher Welington Castillo was able to tag runner Jonathan Lucroy out.
“Do I talk to him?” manager Dale Sveum said about Valbuena. “I think he kind of knew that he had his head somewhere else. Thank God Castillo was looking.”
Russell was on the mound for a pair of stolen bases in his disastrous seventh inning.
The Cubs have called up righty Jake Arrieta to start the second game. He was at Class AAA Iowa after being acquired from Baltimore in the Scott Feldman trade.
“I’ve seen him on video, I’ve seen him in big-league games,” Sveum said. “He’s got big stuff. He’s got a big arm, power slider or cutter or whatever you want to call it, an 88-91-mile-an-hour slider. He has a really, really good arm. He’s sitting on the verge of putting it all together, too.”
Arrieta was 1-2 with a 4.03 ERA at Iowa. He was 5-3 with a 4.41 ERA at Class AAA Norfolk and 1-2 with a 7.23 ERA with the Orioles this year.
Even though the Brewers are sending right-hander Tyler Thornburg at the Cubs tonight, Sveum is not starting the left-handed hitting Nate Schierholtz in right field, instead opting for Cole Gillespie. With 3 p.m. Wednesday being the nonwaiver trading deadline, that is setting off speculation that Schierholtz might be traded. He, along with closer Kevin Gregg, are the two most talked-about Cubs in trade scenarios.