Coming off a pair of impressive series wins against the two best teams in the National League, and having pulled within a half game of the second wild card, the Brewers seemed to be on a roll that would lead them back to the playoffs for the first time in six years. Facing a three-game set against horrible pitchers on a terrible Reds team, the result of the series felt like a mere formality — surely, this would not be the end of the line.
All that assumes that the world is, on some level, basically good and that happiness and joy are attainable emotions, not merely unreachable fantasies invented by the collective human consciousness to give hope and meaning to a cruel and desperate existence.
There was a baseball game.
HOPE IN A HOPELESS WORLD: Travis Shaw, +.071 WPA (1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, BB, K)
THE CEASELESS MARCH TOWARD THE GRAVE: Jacob Barnes, -.151 (0.2 IP, 4 ER, H, 3 BB, K)
Zack Davies took the hill for Milwaukee seeking sole possession of the MLB wins lead, which is a thing you should only care about it when it suits you. He pitched well, allowing just one earned run over 5.2 innings, striking out four and walking one. He took the loss anyway, the victim of poor defensive play and silent bats. Pitcher W-L Record: It’s the Stat for when You Really Hate Stats!
The Brewers were shut out over the first two-thirds of the game by a bad pitcher for the second consecutive day. This time was by Robert Stephenson, who entered the game with an ERA of 5.52. They managed just two hits off of the 24-year-old right-hander through the first six frames, though scoring chances abounded due to the five walks Milwaukee drew.
The third inning was a disastrous one for Jonathan Villar, who at this point must be considered Milwaukee’s everyday center fielder after receiving his fifth straight start there over Keon Broxton (and the myriad of other actual outfielders employed by the Brewers). He led off the inning with Milwaukee’s first hit of the game, but was promptly doubled off of first on Orlando Arcia’s flyout to right. Then, in the Reds’ half of the frame, his two-base error allowed Stephenson to reach and wind up on second, eventually scoring on Zack Cosart’s double.
Milwaukee’s best chance to tie the game came in the next half inning, as the first three batters reached. With the bases loaded and nobody out — stop me if you’ve heard this one before — the Brewers registered three straight strikeouts to end their own threat.
Milwaukee finally tallied their first run in the seventh when Domingo Santana and Stephen Vogt led off the inning with back-to-back doubles. That brought Milwaukee within a run, and though they loaded the bases again the Brewers weren’t able to scratch across the tying run.
It was Jacob Barnes, Wei-Chung Wang and Carlos Torres on to handle the final two innings for Milwaukee. The Reds entered the bottom of the seventh with two runs; they finished the eighth with nine. The first sentence explains the second.
The Brewers will turn to Matt Garza, the newest resident of Starting Rotation Limbo, on Wednesday to try to salvage a game from this forgettable trip to Great American. Garza’s last three starts have been rough, as he’s amassed an ERA of 7.82. He’ll oppose rookie righty Luis Castillo, whose 3.32 ERA over 14 starts easily leads the Reds’ starting rotation. First pitch is at 11:35 am.