This is one of the games you're going to remember. In a 162 game season, there are always a few that stick out years down the road, especially when maybe it's just going to be one of those years. I certainly have them for 2008. I have them for 2011. And maybe one day, this will be one of those games for 2014.
Really, the Brewers had no business winning this game. They ran out of bench players in the eighth inning. They ran out of non-Wang relievers in the 12th. We were dangerously close to Wily Peralta, outfielder. They were unable to play both Ryan Braun and Jean Segura, even though each took up a roster spot. The bullpen pitched 6 scoreless innings. They batters struck out 16 times. And one guy who accumulated 4 of those strikeouts, Khris Davis, got the winning RBI in the 12th.
It was frustrating early for the Brewers, as they combined a tendency to not really hit anything hard against Michael Wacha with a frustrating tendency to squander plenty of leadoff baserunners. The Brewers had a leadoff baserunner on first in each of the 2nd through 6th innings, except the 5th, when Mark Reynolds reached with 1 out. They loaded the bases in the 6th with 2 outs when Ramirez was hit, but Khris Davis (1-6, 4 strikeouts) struck out to end the inning.
Yovani Gallardo wasn't his best tonight but kept the Brewers in the ballgame. The Cardinals scored in the first on a hot shot that bounced off the glove of Mark Reynolds and over to center field. Gallardo looked good after that until the sixth. He led off the Brewer half of that inning with an infield single, but then appeared to jam up his wrist a bit diving back to second base after advancing. We don't know that he really injured anything, but In the bottom half he had his worst inning of the day, giving up home runs to Matt Holliday and Allen Craig. He finished with 2 strikeouts, 1 walk, allowing 7 hits and 3 earned runs in 6 innings.
The Brewers rallied to take Gallardo off the hook for a loss in the top of the 7th inning. Jeff Bianchi walked with 1 out and the Brewers came up with four consecutive singles from Elian Herrera, Lyle Overbay, Carlos Gomez (on a bunt), and Scooter Gennett. That chased Michael Wacha, who had been dominating the Brewers before the 7th. Pat Neshek came on and struck out Jonathan Lucroy, but then hit Aramis Ramirez in the elbow (again) with a 1-2 pitch to force in the tying run. Davis flew out to deep left to end the inning.
Ramirez exited the game with an elbow injury in the bottom half of the inning. He was replaced by Martin Maldonado at first base, with Mark Reynolds moving over to third. Roenicke made this move despite Lyle Overbay being in the game at the time because he had pinch-hit in the previous half inning. It's unclear if he did not know that Ramirez had to exit the game before setting the lineup for that inning, or if he expected Thornburg or Smith to go an extra inning before changing his mind. That left Rickie Weeks as the only position player left on the bench; he flew out on the first pitch he saw with a runner on and two out in the top of the eighth.
The Brewer bullpen continued to be impressive. Roenicke burned Tyler Thornburg and Will Smith to get through the 7th, and then went to Jim Henderson for the 8th. Trevor Rosenthal shut down the top of the Brewer order in the 9th. Brandon Kintzler drew the difficult task of holding down the Cardinals and getting the game to extra innings. Jhonhhy Prherhaltha hit a 1-out single, and newly anointed annoying stupid cardinal Mark Ellis reached on a perfect sacrifice bunt attempt that Mark Reynolds could do nothing with. Outfield prospect Randal Grichuk, in his first MLB at bat, hit a flare that was snagged on a beautiful catch by Jeff Bianchi going backwards into shallow left field. Kintzler then got a ground ball to second from Matt Carpenter, but noted non-first baseman Maldonado could not find the bag covering first base, loading the bases with 2 outs. John Jay then hit a a nearly identical ground ball, but this time Maldonado found the bag and ended the inning.
Maldonado led off the 10th with a walk, and following a failed bunt attempt and then strikeout from Davis and another from Reynolds, Jeff Bianchi roped a single to left but Herrera struck out to end the inning with probable decoy Braun on deck. In the bottom of the 10th, Roenicke surprisingly pulled Kintzler and went to Zach Duke, his only remaining non-Wang, non-closer on the road pitcher, to face a string of right-handed power hitters. Matt Holliday led off with a double, but the Cardinals TOOTBLANed away the lead runner on the bunt attempt. Duke walked Allen Craig but got Peralta to fly out to center to send us to the 10th.
In the 11th, the Cardinals went to LOOGY Randy Choate to face feared power lefthanded batter Zach Duke, who struck out. Duke finished off the bottom of the inning, only allowing a walk. Lucroy led off the 12th against Seth Maness with a double down the left field line. Maldonado moved him over to third with a ground ball to the right side (though he inexplicably slid feet-first attempting to beat out the infield hit, and was out). Khris Davis nearly hit a sacrifice fly to left, but Holliday wisely let it drop in foul territory. Fortunately it did not matter as Davis drove a ball into the rightfield corner for an RBI triple. Mark Reynolds then hit a sacrifice to Jay in center to score Davis and give the Brewers a 5-3 lead.
The ninth was a typically stressful K-Rod inning. With 2 outs, Molina singled, and Allen Craig walked after a long battle with Rodriguez. Finally-- finally-- Peralta flew out to Gomez in center to end it.
Early on, this team has had a pretty special thing going. And someday, April 28th may be the point that we look back on and say that we had a good feeling that special thing might be for real.