WP: Jared Hughes (4-3); LP: Brian Ellington (0-1); Save: none; HR: Mil - Stephen Vogt (10); Eric Thames (31); Neil Walker (14); Domingo Santana (25)
The Milwaukee Brewers reverted to their first half ways in their road game at Miller Park tonight by scoring all ten of their runs via the home run. Four Brewers homered, highlighted by a grand slam from Neil Walker to salt things away in an eight run eighth inning.
Lost in the late inning explosion could be another fine job by the Brewers’ bullpen. Reliever Jeremy Jeffress made the start for Milwaukee and went just two innings, allowing two runs on four hits in the bottom of the second inning. He wasn’t hit hard, but still did allow the Marlins to tie after the Brewers had taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the frame on a Stephen Voght two run homer. Miami could have had more, but Eric Sogard made a great catch in shallow left center to end the inning.
After that, eight (of course) Brewer relievers combined for seven innings of two hit ball, walking one and striking out thirteen. Josh Hader especially shone, working two perfect innings and fanning five. Aaron Wilkerson made his major league debut and had a perfect ninth with two strikeouts.
While the Brewer pen mowed down the Marlins, the batters wasted plenty of scoring opportunities. They left two runners on in the first, fifth, and seventh, and had runners at first and third in the fourth before a baserunning blunder by Brett Phillips ended the inning. Phillips took off from first and the throw down was cut and thrown home. Eric Thames took off for home, and made it back to third as the throw went past the bag. Thames held, but Phillips took off for third and was thrown out getting back to second.
Miami reliever Brian Ellington brought his 100 mph fastball into the eight inning and struck out Domingo Santana, but Eric Thames turned a fastball around on the first pitch he saw to give Milwaukee the lead. Manny Pina, who entered in the bottom of the seventh for Vogt, singled next. Marlins’ manager Don Mattingly claimed that Pina had hit out of turn, as he had him in the ninth spot and reliever Jared Hughes in that seventh spot. After two trips out, the umps finally at least convinced him that they weren’t going to uphold that, as they had the lineup the same as the Brewers did.
Thames’ homerun gives him three in the last three games. He is looking to close the season like he started it, and ended up tonight with a double, walk, and hit by pitch to go with the homer, scoring twice.
Craig Counsell, in his post game presser, said that he went out before the eighth and confirmed with the home plate umpire, Ryan Additon, that Pina was in the seventh spot. The scoreboard had the lineup wrong.
Phillips made the second out on a long drive to the wall in center, but Ellington walked Jett Bandy and Eric Sogard to load them up for Walker. After the slam, Ryan Braun singled to mercifully end Ellington’s night. Travis Shaw also singled, and Santana redeemed himself for three straight strikeouts with a three run bomb to left center.
Milwaukee used not just Johnny Wholestaff tonight; they used Johnny Wholeroster. They used 23 players, including eleven in the ninth spot. Three players played more than one position; all four catchers on the roster played (and contributed a homer, two singles, and a walk); and Jonathan Villar pinch hit and didn’t get anything official at the plate as Phillips committed his TOOTBLAN with him at bat. Is it any wonder that Mattingly was confused - twice? He got tossed in the bottom of the eighth protesting something about where reliever Anthony Swarzak was placed in the lineup.
Chicago’s win over St. Louis leaves the Brewers three back of the Cubs and a game ahead of the Cards with fifteen to play. Colorado also won, so Milwaukee remains three back there as well.
Zach Davies (17-8, 3.67) is running out of starts in his quest for twenty wins, goes for the Brewers (78-69) Saturday night. He faces Adam Conley (6-7, 5.23) for the Marlins (68-79).
The Brewers drew 19,000 plus fans on two days notice, and expect in excess of 25,000 for the weekend games.