Benches empty late in Cubs’ 9-0 win over Brewers

It didn’t even take the Cubs and Brewers two games before tensions boiled over.

In the eighth inning of their 9-0win Saturday over Milwaukee, Cubs reliever Keegan Thompson was ejected for hitting the Brewers’ Andrew McCutchen. Both dugouts and bullpens emptied but there were no punches thrown, though both teams formed a giant huddle between home plate and first base.

Thompson’s purpose pitch didn’t come out of nowhere.

Brewers pitchers hit three Cubs batters. Milwaukee starter Brandon Woodruff grazed Nick Madrigal as part of a three-run first. Then in the fourth, Willson Contreras was hit by a Woodruff sinker. Contreras was also hit in Thursday’s season opener, and has now been hit 10 times by Milwaukee since the beginning of the 2020 season.

The costliest hit-by-pitch, however, might have come in the bottom of the seventh. Brewers reliever Trevor Gott’s slider hit Ian Happ directly on the left kneecap, with Happ crumpling to the ground. Perhaps encouragingly for the Cubs, Happ was able to walk off the field under his own power.

Making his big-league debut in the ninth, Cubs reliever Ethan Roberts hit the Brewers’ Christian Yelich, but play continued without incident.

The eventful ending overshadowed an otherwise-ideal day for the Cubs, who have won their first two games of the year. Making his first start of the season after joining the rotation last August, Justin Steele threw five scoreless innings, needing 77 pitches to strike out five while allowing four hits.

“We need him to be good for us to have success,” manager David Ross said before the game. “He’s a big part of our future and success. I’ve definitely seen a maturity of still working through some things.”

Suzuki drove in threeruns and Happ had two hits with two RBIs and three runs scored before exiting.

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