The 2017 Milwaukee Brewers played in a lot of close games. Almost 3 in 10 games — 47 of 162 — were decided by one run, and only 37 were decided by 5 or more runs. Win or lose, the Brewers were competitive virtually every night this past summer, and that led to some exciting finishes.
That included four walk-off wins for the Brewers, two of which came in an unconventional way. Here’s a closer look at the games the Brewers won in the game’s final at-bat.
April 7th, 2017
2-1 over Chicago in 11 innings
The season was in its infancy, but the Brewers really could’ve used a win when they opened their first series against the defending World Series champions. The hometown nine were coming off a very disappointing season-opening series, losing 3 of 4 to the Colorado Rockies — who would eventually beat them out for the final wildcard spot by one game.
Locked in a low-scoring 1-1 battle and struggling to get the offense going, the Brewers tried to scratch together the winning run any way they could. Mike Montgomery was entering his third inning of work in relief when Ryan Braun led off the 11th with a single. Jesus Aguilar later drew a one-out walk, and the pinch-hitting Jett Bandy was hit with a pitch to load the bases. That proved to be a sign that Montgomery was losing all sense of control — after getting Manny Pina to an 0-2 count, he uncorked a wild pitch allowing Braun to sneak in for the winning run.
June 16th, 2017
6-5 over San Diego in 10 innings
By mid-June, the NL Central race was still up for grabs, and the Brewers were in an unexpected position — first place. Holding a 2.5-game lead in the division after winning 3 of 4 in St. Louis for the first time in forever, the Brewers hoped to keep the momentum going against a Padres team in the middle of a complete rebuild.
San Diego proved to be more feisty than expected, though, jumping Junior Guerra for 4 runs in the first inning on the power of two home runs. Guerra settles down after that, though — those ended up being the only two hits he allowed in 6 innings of work — and the offense slowly chipped away at the deficit, starting with a massive home run by Travis Shaw to lead off the second inning. Keon Broxton tied the game with a three-run shot of his own in the 4th inning, but it looked like the Padres would end up stealing the game after all with a solo home run in the 8th inning.
But Manny Pina got a slider down the middle in the bottom half of the inning that he was able to pull for a game-tying homer, and the game went into extra innings. After an incredible play by Orlando Arcia sent the game to the bottom of the 10th, Eric Thames was able to get just enough of a pitch to bounce off the top of the wall and out — his second home run off the top of the fence in two days, and his first career walk-off home run. The Brewers celebrated by ripping off his shirt and making all of us bad for skipping a couple days at the gym.
August 12th, 2017
6-5 over Cincinnati in 10 innings
It’s unusual to see one walk-off wild pitch in a season. It’s got to be even more unusual to see two in the same year.
But when you play so many close games, plenty of breaks can go your way. In a back and forth game — the Reds started the game by scoring 2 runs in the top of the first, and the Brewers responded with 3 in the bottom half — that the Brewers needed to win to avoid slipping under .500 as part of a month-long swoon.
After yet another Thames home run against the Reds tied the game in the 6th, things eventually went into extras. Eric Sogard hit a one-out double against Tim Adleman, giving the Brewers the winning run in scoring position. After getting Pina to fly out, Aguilar was able to draw a 3-2 walk to bring Thames back up to the plate. Understandably, Cincinnati wanted nothing to do with their boogeyman, and Thames walked on four pitches to load the bases.
Facing Ryan Braun with the bases loaded, Adleman gets Braun to an 0-2 count, but tries to get cute with a slider in the dirt. Catcher Tucker Barnhart would eventually win a Gold Glove in the offseason, but he couldn’t corral the wild pitch from Adleman, and the ball squirted away just enough for Sogard to sneak in for the game-winning score.
September 23rd, 2017
4-3 over Chicago in 10 innings
By the end of the year, the Cubs had taken control of the Central, but the Brewers managed to turn things around to stay alive in the wild card race. Chicago had hoped to clinch the division in Milwaukee with a sweep -- which also would’ve effectively eliminated the Brewers from playoff contention altogether. After Chicago took the first two games of the four-game set with a pair of one-run, 10 inning games, the Brewers really, really needed to win in front of a national Saturday afternoon audience.
In another low-scoring, tight game between these two teams, the score was tied at 1 heading into the 8th inning. Working his second inning, Jacob Barnes ran into trouble, but was able to escape with just one run allowed on a sacrifice fly.
Fighting for their playoff lives, though, the Brewers wouldn’t give up. Facing All-Star closer Wade Davis, Orlando Arcia led off the bottom of the 9th with a leadoff home run to tie the game. Unfortunately, because it’s the Cubs and they’re annoyingly persistent, Chicago responded with a run in the top of the 10th on a Jon Jay (because of course) RBI single.
That led Joe Maddon to bring Davis out for a second inning, riding the free agent to be as hard as he could. After striking out Neil Walker, Davis gave up a an opposite field double to Braun. Then Travis Shaw stepped to the plate and bumped the Brewers’ win expectancy from 29% to 100% with one swing of the bat.