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Milwaukee Brewers fall to Cards 7-6, are eliminated from Wild Card race

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Disappointing finish to contention

Milwaukee Brewers v St Louis Cardinals
#30 for Santana
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

WP: Ryan Sherriff (2-1); LP Anthony Swarzak (6-4); Save: Juan Nicasio (6); Home runs: Mil - Domingo Santana (30); StL - none

Any loss today to fall out of contention for the second Wild Card position would have been disappointing, but to lose after a 6-0 third inning lead and a 6-4 eighth inning lead is rather excruciating. But that’s what happened, and it renders Sunday’s season finale meaningless for both teams, instead of just the Cardinals.

Milwaukee took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second off of Cardinal starter Luke Weaver. Travis Shaw and Domingo Santana singled leading off the inning and moved up on an infield out from Stephen Vogt. Orlando Arcia brought in the run on a sacrifice fly.

The Brewers moved to put the game away in the top of the third. Eric Thames and Neil Walker drew back to back one out walks, and Ryan Braun’s double to left made it 2-0. Shaw’s single brought home two and Domingo Santana’s two run homer extended the lead to 6-0. That takes Sunday to 30 dingers on the season, and the 2017 edition of the Brewers became the second in franchise history with three thirty home run hitters on the roster, joining the 1982 squad.

Happiness was short-lived, though. The Cardinals struck back with four in the bottom of the third. It was a Cardinal rally worthy of the Cardinals. An infield single, bloop to left, a walk, and bloop to right brought in two. Brewers’ starter Junior Guerra left with the bases loaded and one down after walking Tommy Pham to load ‘em up. Jeremy Jeffress allowed the bloop double to Paul DeJong, and then a ground-rule double to Jose Martinez for two more runs. Jeffress escaped further damage, and it was 6-4 Brewers into the fourth.

And that’s where it stayed as the Brewers let scoring chance after scoring chance evaporate. They left three in the fourth, two in the fifth, two in the seventh, and one in the eighth.

Brewer relievers Jacob Barnes, Jarod Hughes, and Josh Hader kept the Cards off of the scoreboard into the bottom of the eighth. Jader faced Greg Garcia to start the frame, and Anthony Swarzak replaced him to hold the lead into the ninth for Corey Knebel. The Brewers never got to Knebel, though, as Swarzak just didn’t have it for one of the first times this year. A walk to Pham, infield out that moved up the runners, a walk to Martinez, and a two run single from Stephen Piscotty tied the game. Martinez was out at third on the play, and Piscotty was called out at second to end the inning. That wall was overturned on appeal, and it loomed large when Harrison Bader singled to left to drive in Piscotty. Braun over-ran the ball with Bader taking second, and Swarzak’s day was done.

Braun redeemed himself with a nice catch of a liner from Aledmys Diaz off of Carlos Torres.

The Brewers didn’t go quietly against St. Louis closer Juan Nicasio. Santana narrowly missed his fourth hit of the game with a liner caught by a leaping Garcia at second. Stephen Vogt grounded out sharply to Garcia, but Arcia kept hopes alive with a single up the middle. Pinch runner Quentin Berry did his thing, stealing second, but Brett Phillips struck out swinging for the final out.

So tomorrow the Brewers (85-76) will switch from Zach Davies and start Aaron Wilkerson (0-0, 8.10). St. Louis (83-78) will end their season with Jack Flaherty (0-1, 6.06). It will be interesting to see who Craig Counsell plays and who he gives the day off.