WP: Buddy Bosher (1-0); LP: Oliver Drake (3-4); Save: Matt Belisle (2); Homeruns: Mil - Broxton (15); Min - none
Last night it took the Brewers’ bullpen two pitches two lose the game to the Tampa Bay Rays. Tonight, the bullpen worked four excruciating innings and finally gave up two runs in the seventh to give the Twins a comeback 5-4 win over Milwaukee.
Starter Brent Suter had a second poor outing in a row, and it was very odd. The top five hitters in Minnesota’s lineup went 0-10 with a walk against Suter. The bottom four went 5-7 with a walk and three runs scored. Suter left after giving up two runs on thee hits and a walk after two were out in the fourth, giving way to Josh Hader.
Hader didn’t have it tonight, but gutted his way through a fifth inning that saw him walk the bases full before ending the threat with a strikeout of Ehire Adrianzi. Hader could only get his fastball over the plate, and that was sporadic. Oddly, Craig Counsell stuck with Hader into the bottom of the sixth with a 4-3 lead. Hader hit the number eight hitter and give up a single to the number nine hitter before he brought in Jeremy Jeffress. Jeffress needed only three pitches to dispose of Brian Dozier on a foul pop and that was much too efficient for Counsell.
In came Oliver Drake, and he retired Joe Mauer on a liner to left and Robbie Grossman on a fly to shallow left. After the Brewers failed to produce in the top of the seventh, out trots Drake for another inning of work, and he walks the Eduardo Escobar, gives up a double to Eddie Rosario that Domingo Santana misjudges in right (unlike the TV crew, I found it doubtful that Santana makes that play even with a perfect route, but we’ll never know). Escobar scores to tie the game. Bryon Buxton sac bunts Rosario to third (thank you Twins!), and Adrianzi pops out to Orlando Arcia for out number two. Number eight hitter Jason Castro comes up, a lefty, and the Brewers go into their shift, with Travis Shaw at the shortstop spot.
With nobody close to him at third, Rosario dances off of the bag and Drake steps off and moves him back. Then, Rosario dances further down the line with nobody to hold him on, and Drake...balks. He balks in the lead run. Then he completes the walk to Castro, gives up a hit to #9 hitter Jorge Polanco - his fourth of the night - and exits the game. With the Brewers behind, it’s Carlos Torres time, but Carlos actually mows down the four batters he faces!
So in two innings Josh Hader and Oliver Drake combined for seventy nine pitches (79). Forty four of them were strikes. 44. How do pitchers that can’t throw strikes get that much rope? Granted, they were occasionally victimized by incredibly inconsistent home plate ump Bill Welke, but to be fair Welke was an equal opportunity bad ump tonight. He didn’t favor one team over the other, and he didn’t favor hitters or pitchers. Balls were strikes and strikes were balls. And every once in a while the calls were correct.
Milwaukee built a 3-0 lead in the third off of Twins starter Ervin Santana. Keon Broxton smashed a hanging slider 435’ to left for a 1-0 lead, and Santana took another pitch up and in for a HBP - this time on his left arm. An error on shortstop Polanco on an easy groundball from Ryan Braun put runners at first and second, and a soft single to center by Travis Shaw plated run number two. When Boxton over-ran the ball in center, Braun came all the way around to score run number three.
After the Twins scored once against Brewers’ starter Brent Suter in the bottom of the inning, Milwaukee tacked on another run in the top of inning number four with an RBI double to the gap in right center from Broxton.
Minnesota got two back with two down and nobody on in the bottom of the frame when Suter again couldn’t control the bottom of the order. Two singles, a walk, and a double brought in two to put the score at 4-3 until the Twins pushed ahead in the seventh. When hitters 1-5 faced Suter, they were 0-10 with a walk. 6-9 were 5-7 with a double and walk, three runs scored, and two of the RBI.
Milwaukee had a baserunner in each inning from the fifth through the ninth. After a walk by Eric Thames in the sixth, followed by a fielder’s choice for Hernan Perez, Perez stole second. Orlando Arcia and Susac fanned to end the inning, and then the first two struck out in the seventh. In the eighth, Rule 5 pick-up Ryan Pressly came in and walked Jesus Aguilar on four pitches. Jonathan Villar pinch ran, and you might hope that Thames would a) take a pitch until Pressly could throw a strike, and b) take pitches hoping Villar could pilfer second. Nope. First pitch to Thames, double play.
Manny Pina had the night off while Andrew Susac caught, but pinch-hit with two down in the top of the ninth, doubling into the gap in left center (well, it was called a single and error but Pina never slowed around first so it should have been a double). Santana grounded to third to end things.
The Twins move to 54-56 while the Brewers fall to 59-55. As of this writing the Cubs lead the Giants 5-3 in the eighth, and if that holds Milwaukee will trail Chicago by 11⁄2 games. Tomorrow night the two teams complete their first two of the four game home and home set with a night game at Target Field. Matt Garza (5-5, 3.68) goes for the Crew, while the Twins have Adelberto Mejia, a 4-5 lefty with a 4.30 ERA going.