Welp, chock this one up as one of the worst losses, if not the worst loss, of the season for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Our beloved local nine jumped out to a 1-0 lead against Joe Musgrove and the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second inning, when Travis Shaw golfed an 0-1 changeup below the strike zone over the fence in right field to lead off the frame. The lead didn’t last long, however, as Milwaukee starter Jhoulys Chacin ran into some trouble in the third. Musgrove reached base on a throwing error by Chacin, and then the next batter Corey Dickerson pounded an 0-2 slider out of the park to give the Pirates the 2-1 advantage. Chacin went 5.1 innings while allowing just the one hit and two runs before getting relieved by Josh Hader, who retired all five hitters he faced, including four whiffs.
The Brewers came back in the sixth with Musgrove still on the mound. Christian Yelich lined a one-out double to right and Jesus Aguilar followed with a walk. Travis Shaw popped out on the infield for the second out, which brought Tyler Saladino up to the plate. He delivered a run-scoring single to left field to tie things up at two apiece. With two hits today Saladino now owns a .298/.352/.476 slash in 34 games on the year, and he’s done quite well in locking down the shortstop position since his return from the DL and Orlando Arcia’s second demotion to the minors.
Musgrove was still on the mound in a 2-2 game when the eighth inning started, and once again it was Yelich who started a rally with a single. Aguilar drew another walk to put runners on first and second, and after outs by Shaw and Saladino, pinch-hitter Nate Orf drew a two-out free pass to load the bases. Recent call-up Brett Phillips, who started the game in right field, strode to the plate and delivered a three-run triple to give Milwaukee a 5-2 lead.
Jeremy Jeffress came out to start the eighth inning for Milwaukee and retired the first two hitters he faced before Dickerson punched a two-out double to right. Starling Marte was the next batter and delivered an RBI single to close the gap to 5-3, and then Corey Knebel was summoned to try and nail down the four-out save. He walked Gregory Polanco, but retired Elias Diaz to send the game to the ninth.
Knebel quickly unraveled after that. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with no outs, though he did induce a double play to Jordy Mercer. A run scored to make it 5-4, but there were two outs and a runner on third base with Brewer-killer David Freese coming to the plate. Predictably, he lined a run-scoring triple to center field to send the game to extra innings. After his outing today, Knebel now owns a 3.91 ERA and 104 FIP- on the season with 12 walks in 25.1 innings.
Milwaukee uncharacteristically played some small ball in the 10th inning, with Shaw reaching base on a free pass to lead off the frame and then getting bunted over by Saladino. After a pinch-walk by Keon Broxton, Phillips once again delivered the go-ahead hit, grounding a single to center field to score Shaw and give the Brewers a 6-5 lead. Taylor Williams was summoned to try and close things out in a rainy bottom half. He induced a line out to lead off the frame then allowed a single to Polanco before retiring Elias Diaz on a pop-up. Counsell then decided to play the matchup game and brought in Dan Jennings, who allowed a single to Colin Moran to put runners on the corners. The next batter, Josh Bell, ended the game by lining a two-run, walk-off double to center field.
Today’s loss means a five-game sweep at the hands of the Pirates (48-49) and a six game losing streak overall for the Brewers (55-43) entering the All-Star break. They’ll now get a much-needed respite after completing their 21-game-in-20-day stretch at a 10-11 clip. Their 55 wins at the break are a franchise record, and the Cream City Nine will start the second half of the 2018 season 2.5 games back of the Cubs for first place in the central division and leading the National League Wild Card race.