Benches clear in Cubs-Brewers after HBPs;  X-rays on Happ's knee come back negative

Benches clear in Cubs-Brewers after HBPs; X-rays on Happ’s knee come back negative

The Cubs beat the Brewers at Wrigley Field in Thursday’s opener, 5-3, and then took Saturday’s game, 9-0, to move to 2-0 on the season. The Brewers won the Central last season while the Cubs finished with their worst record since 2013, so the results are at least mildly notable — while also acknowledging there are 160 games to go — but something perhaps more exciting to casual baseball fans happened late .

It didn’t start here, and we’ll get to that, but here is Cubs reliever Keegan Thompson hitting Andrew McCutchen of the Brewers and benches clearing.

There was a lot of milling around. Thompson was ejected. Jason Heyward made a beeline in from center field. Lorenzo Cain was front and center for the Brewers. Some of the more heated conversations happened between Cubs catcher Willson Contreras and the Brewers, notably members of their coaching staff. That’s where we find the root here and tug a bit.

Contreras was hit by a pitch on Thursday and again on Saturday. Those two give him 15 career hit-by-pitches at the hands of the Brewers. No other team has hit him even half as much. These two teams have often been at odds with this stuff, in general, for years, too.

Also, in the half inning prior to the above fracas (and we use that word loosely here, as it was more of a gathering), Cubs cleanup hitter Ian Happ was plunked in the knee and had to leave the game. It was a breaking ball and clearly unintentional, but it seems like teaming that with the Contreras stuff and recent history in general was when the Cubs decided enough was enough.

“I don’t think there was any intent on anybody’s hit-by-pitches today except for one,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said after the game (via Bally Sports Wisconsin), alluding to Thompson’s pitch as the intentional one. “I think both sides will tell you that. Benches clear when there’s somebody intentionally thrown at, and that’s what happened today.”

Anyway, probably the most important thing to do here is move on and just play baseball. The two teams square off again on Sunday with Marcus Stroman getting the ball for the Cubs against Freddy Peralta of the Brewers.

In terms of any of this affecting the on-field action, Happ got X-rays on his knee and said they were negative. Happ figured to be a big part of the Cubs’ path to success this season after finishing 2021 by hitting .323/.400/.655 in his final 44 games last season. He’s hit cleanup in both of their games so far this season and he’s 5 for 7 with a .778 on-base percentage, two doubles, four RBI and three runs. Losing him early would be a blow, even if only for a few games, so it’s a situation worth monitoring.

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