WP: Jeremy Jeffress (5-0); LP: Sam Tuivailala (1-1); Save: Corey Knebel (5); Homeruns: StL - Harrison Bader (5); Mil - Christian Yelich (7)
Now THAT’S a better Box Score
Jeremy Jeffress’ scoreless streak ended in the top of the seventh inning. In fact, he gave up TWO runs (just one earned), but one of the keys to today’s win is that he only gave up the two runs. And the Brewers’ seventh inning offense made him a winner for the fifth time this season with no losses, so he’s got that goin’ for him. Which is nice.
So with their 3-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals (29-24), the Milwaukee Brewers (36-21) push the Cards back to 5 games behind the first place Crew, win their sixth series in a row, and go into an off day with a feeling of relief. The home stand against the D’Backs, Mets, and Cards ends at 8-2.
This game had all of the elements of a St. Louis win over the Brewers. Base running outs by Milwaukee - Christian Yelich picked off in the first; Lorenzo Cain out trying to advance on a ball in the dirt in the third. A challenge not made by the Brewers that was as obvious as anything I’ve seen this season (and that would have led to a run in the second given the same results after the call...). The Brewers loading the bases in three innings and squeezing only one run out of it. Twelve left on base for the Crew. Bleeding groundball hits all over the place for the Cards. The Redbirds second (and final) run coming on a sequence of single, error, sac bunt, sac fly - and the error, on Travis Shaw, was an easy double play. Two sacrifice bunts by Cards’ catcher Carson Kelly with two strikes.
But it wasn’t a St. Louis win. The Brewers were good enough to overcome all of that, and the feeling that this is a pretty good baseball squad is starting to grow around baseball - not just in Milwaukee.
Both starting pitchers went unscored upon. Cardinals’ youngster Alex Reyes looked very good, and looked like he hadn’t pitched in the majors for a year and a half. He worked four innings with close to 80 pitches, allowing three hits, walking two, hitting one, and fanning just one.
Junior Guerra was better for Milwaukee. He went six innings, allowing no runs, and retiring fourteen of the last fifteen that he faced. He allowed four hits, walked none, and struck out seven. There had to be serious consideration given to leaving him in going into the seventh.
The Brewers had given Juni G a 1-0 lead off of reliever John Gant in the bottom of the fifth. A one-out single by Erik Kratz was followed by a sac bunt attempt by Guerra, and Matt Carpenter - charging in from third and cutting across in front of the mound - decided to go for the force at second. The play caught shortstop Yaira Munoz by surprise, as he expected a throw to first and was going back to third to protect against the “speedy” Kratz moving up an extra base. Munoz caught the throw in front of the bag and his throw to first was too late to get Junior.
LoCain worked a walk to load the bases, and Christian Yelich’s grounder was mishandled by Munoz, so they only got the force at second as Kratz scored.
The “A” bullpen was ready, and Jeffress had the seventh. He fell behind Harrison Bader 2-0 and Bader took a letter-high fastball out to center, tying the game up. Dexter Fowler (hitting at about Eric Sogard’s level coming in) followed with the second of his three hits, and Shaw had his error. That was followed by the sac bunt/sac fly combo, with St. Louis going on top 2-1. After an intentional walk to Matt Carpenter, JJ caught Jedd Gyorko looking to end the inning.
St. Louis went with lefty Tyler Lyons to face Yelich leading off the bottom of the seventh, and his first (and last) pitch hit up on the scoreboard over the batter’s eye in center to tie things up at two. Since it was the seventh, when the Brewers now score most of their runs, they managed the go-ahead run off of Sam Tuivailala with a single to right by Jesus Aguilar, a base hit an out later by Domingo Santana, and one out after that a first pitch base hit to right by Orlando Arcia, in as a defensive replacement. Lando couldn’t get back from the Sky Sox on a direct flight to replace Tyler Saladino on the roster, so Eric Sogard got the start (two walks). Arcia flew into Chicago, rented a car, drove to Milwaukee, arrived around game time, and got another game winning hit. Nicely done.
Josh Hader had the eighth and possibly the ninth. He had a walk and a single allowed in the eighth but struck out three. After the Brewers squandered a two on, nobody out bottom half of the frame, Hader came out for the ninth. He fanned his fourth hitter to start the inning, but walked pinch hitter Marcel Ozuna. Carpenter had his bat shattered by Josh and tapped one to Hader that could have perhaps been a double play, but Josh took the out at first. Another chance to end it went awry on a come-backer by Gyorko that hit inside Hader’s glove but leaked out, leaving runners at first and third.
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell had seen enough, and went with Corey Knebel to face Jose Martinez. After dropping a first pitch curve over for strike one, Corey missed with three straight fast balls. Manny Pina (a late inning replacement) called for a curve on the 3-1 count and Knebel dropped it in for strike two. With Martinez totally confused Corey blew a fastball by him swinging for strike three, and his fifth save of the season.
We all get to relax for a day on Thursday, then the Brewers are back at it in Chicago, this time against the White Sox (16-37, also off Thursday). Chase Anderson (4-3, 4.42) is still struggling to discover last year’s form, and will go on the mound for Milwaukee. The White Sox go with Hector Santiago (1-2, 4.87). It is Santiago’s sixth start and sixteenth appearance of the season.