Walks, 'feel' are Butler's Achilles' heel in loss

Starter issues five free passes over three frames vs. Brewers

Walks, 'feel' are Butler's Achilles' heel in loss

CHICAGO -- One of the things Cubs manager Joe Maddon liked about Eddie Butler when he saw him in Spring Training was the right-hander's ability to throw strikes. That didn't happen on Friday.

Making his second start for Chicago, Butler walked five over three-plus innings in a 6-3 loss to first-place Milwaukee. They were half of the season-high 10 walks issued by Cubs pitchers in the game, which was played in less than desirable conditions. After three days of near summer-like weather, it was 46 degrees at game time, and rain stopped play for nearly two hours.

"I couldn't get a good feel for the baseball and sprayed the fastball around and wasn't able to establish it," Butler said. "I needed to find a way to get it done, and I didn't do it."

In his first start one week ago against the Cardinals, Butler needed 28 pitches to get through the first inning, and he blamed nerves. On Friday, he faced seven batters and threw 40 pitches total. The five walks were the second most in his career.

"I felt pretty good," Butler said, dismissing any butterflies. "I just couldn't find the feel once I got out there and couldn't attack the zone the way I'd like to."

The conditions were partly to blame.

"That was a very awkward day to play baseball," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Even in Spring Training, he was a real heavy strike-thrower there.

"Today, it just wasn't happening," Maddon said. "We walked at least 10 guys overall, and that was a big part of the game."

Play was halted in the sixth inning for 1 hour 59 minutes because of rain. Butler used that time to talk to his teammates about how to get back on track.

"That's unacceptable to do that out there," Butler said. "I have to go out and give them five innings and keep them in the game. I just have to throw strikes."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.