I can’t remember where I heard the theory, but I have always been intrigued by it: the idea that Heaven and Hell are just like life on Earth, but with joy and happiness turned up slightly in the former, while hopelessness and rage are turned up slightly in the latter. Should that be the case, then surely in Hell the Brewers play the Cardinals every day. Tuesday was just another hum-drum day in the fiery pits.
The Brewers struck a blow for the negative in the “Does momentum exist in baseball?” debate, eating a double-digit scoring night from a mediocre Cardinals team two days after holding perhaps the greatest team in the history of the sport to five runs over three days. If there is peace and solace to be found in our world, surely it is located elsewhere. Let’s chart it:
THE OLD TAYLOR: Eric Thames, +.065 WPA (1-for-3, HR, BB, 2 K)
THE NEW TAYLOR: Matt Garza, -.319 WPA (3.1 IP, 4 H, 3R, 5 BB, 2 K)
Garza’s outing started innocently enough, and he won himself an appearance on SportsCenter for the next 12-18 hours with a circus catch in the second. While casual fans will be delighted by the barehanded, about-to-fall-over stop, real Garza-ites will recognize that the truly impressive portion of the play was when he successfully tossed the ball to first base, rather than some schmuck sitting in the seventh row in Section 124.
Now, if you’ve ever seen a Brewers-Cardinals game before, dear readers, then you’re all too familiar with the way the third inning went down. The Red Birds loaded the bases with one out with a single, an error and a walk. Desperately needing a ground ball to get out of the inning, Garza got two, and they resulted in three Cardinal runs despite the fact that the ball never exited the infield.
Eric Thames went yard to temporarily ease close the gap, but Garza fell apart in the fourth, clearly rattled by the previous innings’ shenanigans. He retired just one more batter — a sacrifice bunt by the Cardinals pitcher — and was lifted for Carlos Torres after a Paul DeJong single plated two.
Torres, refusing to allow another man to be the worst pitcher to appear in the inning, promptly allowed the next three batters to reach after Manny Pina nabbed Tommy Pham trying to steal third. The Brewers catcher may have injured himself in the effort, as he was lifted for Stephen Vogt in the fourth inning.
Torres, a Teflon-coated fountain of runs allowed who ranks third on the team in appearances, would go on to allow another pair of runs in the ensuing inning, a two-run shot off the bat of Matt Carpenter after he failed to retire the pitcher. It was simply the next in a long line of terrible outings for Torres, who somehow remains near the top Craig Counsell’s bullpen depth chart, and it won’t be the last.
The Brewers mounted a threat in the sixth that might have been interesting if Torres hadn’t allowed the Cardinals margin to balloon to eight. MIlwaukee scored once and loaded the bases with two outs, facilitated by Keon Broxton legging out a run-scoring infield single. The threat was nullified when Jonathan Villar ripped a line drive aimed straight at Cardinals reliever and old friend Zack Duke’s face. Duke was able to get the glove up in time, and the avoidance of serious injury seems like a happy ending in a game that was likely out of reach.
The Drake replaced Torres, being used correctly in a game that was already all but over; he allowed the final run over two shaky innings. Jacob Barnes and Jeremy Jeffress also appeared, recording scoreless innings to take us home.
The Brewers spend another night in Hell as they wrap up a quick two-game set with the Baby Eaters on Wednesday afternoon. Ace Chanderson, making his third start since returning from the disabled list, will take the hill for the Crew as they try to salvage a Suds Series split. Opposing Anderson will be Carlos Martinez. First pitch is at 1:10 pm.