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Brewers 3, Cardinals 2: Playing With Fire

Zack Greinke also made a nice play to get the lead runner at third on a sac bunt. Of course, that was followed up by allowing his only run.
Zack Greinke also made a nice play to get the lead runner at third on a sac bunt. Of course, that was followed up by allowing his only run.

Win: Zack Greinke (3-1)
Loss: Jaime Garcia (2-1)
Save: John Axford (5)

HR: None

MVP: Jonathan Lucroy (.276 WPA)
LVP: Alex Gonzalez (-.095)

Fangraphs Win Expectancy Graph


If there was a more appropriate way for this game to end, I don't know what it would be.

Going into the bottom of the ninth, the Brewers were clinging to a one run lead. With John Axford coming to the mound, one could forgive Brewers fans for feeling confident about their chances. However, a leadoff walk to Matt Holliday followed by a Carlos Beltran single put runners on the corners with no outs. After striking out renowned Brewer-killer David Freese, the always dangerous Yadier Molina came to the plate. Strike one was called. Strike two caught Molina swinging at high heat. Axford went right back to the high fastball for his third pitch and Molina bit, swinging for strike three.

On the strikeout, Carlos Beltran was caught in a rundown on his way to second base. With Beltran being chased back to first by Alex Gonzalez, Tyler Greene, pinch running for Holliday, made his move. Had Greene been able to cross home plate before an out was made, the game would have been tied. Thankfully for the Brewers, Gonzalez showed some great awareness and threw home to catch Greene and end the game. An absolutely wild ending. It also perfectly shows just how the Brewers were playing with fire throughout the day.

While Zack Greinke allowed just one run in six innings, he allowed 11 Cardinals to reach base. Two reached in the first, three in the second (with one scoring), one in the third, three in the fifth, and two in the sixth. Greinke's only clean frame was the fourth inning, when he coerced two groundouts and a lineout. In fact, that was the only clean inning of the day for the Brewers. This start could have ended much worse for Greinke but, fortunately, the Cardinals hit the ball at defenders when the Brewers needed them to. Greinke only struck out two men today (more on that in the stat of the day later).

The Milwaukee bullpen didn't have much better luck at holding off baserunners. Jose Veras allowed a leadoff walk to Jon Jay and a two out single to David Freese before being pulled in favor of Kameron Loe, who retired Yadier Molina to end the seventh inning. And Francisco Rodriguez continued his struggles in the eighth inning. He allowed a leadoff double to Matt Carpenter and a single Skip Schumaker, which put runners on the corners with no outs. A ground out scored Carpenter, bringing the Cardinals within one run, but two more grounders got K-Rod and the Brewers out of the inning with the lead. Then, of course, the two runners in the ninth inning on Axford.

It didn't help that the Brewers bats only showed up for an inning today. Milwaukee scored all three of their runs in the sixth inning after falling behind 1-0 in the second. Carlos Gomez singled and advanced to second on a ground out. He would score on an Aramis Ramirez single. A Corey Hart single and Alex Gonzalez groundout put runners on second and third with two outs and Jonathan Lucroy at the plate. Lucroy took a changeup and a curveball for two balls then launched a cutter to left center field that would have been a home run had it been a few feet higher. Instead, it was a two run double that gave Milwaukee a 3-1 lead.

Outside of the sixth inning, the Brewers collected just five hits. Jaime Garcia pitched fairly well for St. Louis, giving up all three Milwaukee runs in seven innings. Lucroy ended up collecting the Brewers only two-hit day and the only Brewer extra base hit. The two through eight spots in the order each picked up a hit, except for Alex Gonzalez. Zack Greinke also had a single and Norichiki Aoki hit a single in a pinch hit appearance. Rickie Weeks was 0-3 with Milwaukee's sole walk.

A crazy game and a crazy end, but the Brewers managed to leave St. Louis with a win. They head out to the west coast next, with a three game series in San Diego followed by three in San Francisco.