This entire series between the Brewers and the Rockies has included some high-blood pressure moments in the late innings. Sunday was no different, but this time, the Brewers came out on the short end, losing 5-4 in 11 innings.
Despite their woes on Sundays this year, the Brewers started this Sunday afternoon game well enough. Wade Miley struck out the side in the first inning on his way to a relatively stress-free first 4 innings, the Brewers got some good swings in on Jon Gray — Christian Yelich and Eric Thames both flew out on deep fly balls in the first inning — and Travis Shaw led off the 2nd inning with his second home run in as many days.
Then Jon Gray settled down, Trevor Story homered again, and it looked like the Brewers were just going to sleepwalk their way to another Sunday series finale walk. But the Rockies bullpen still managed to find a way to mess things up despite only being asked to cover one inning. More on that in a second.
But first, for the most part, Wade Miley was largely solid again this afternoon — he just couldn’t hold a candle to Gray. He scattered 5 hits over 5 innings, but the big one came in the 5th when he made a mistake on a two-strike pitch to Story, who hit a fastball up in the zone out for a three-run home run — his 4th home run against the Brewers in this series, and his 7th against the Brewers this year. Not even Jay Bruce has approached that level of Brewers Killing in a single season. Story would add another RBI in the top of the 9th inning, when a review showed he beat out what looked to be a double play ball off of Corbin Burnes. It was his 18th RBI against the Brewers this year in 7 games, and his 8th in the past two days.
Gray more or less mowed down the Brewers after that second inning, and was only truly challenged in the bottom of the 5th when Ryan Braun singled and Orlando Arcia walked, causing Craig Counsell to take his shot by pinch-hitting for Miley with Jesus Aguilar. Unfortunately, Aguilar would ground into a fielder’s choice — to Story, of course — to end the threat.
The Rockies ace would end up throwing 8 innings, allowing just 4 hits and the 1 run, striking out 8 — including Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich and Eric Thames in the 8th inning.
Colorado has had trouble closing out games during their current road trip, though, and instead of going to Wade Davis — who blew the save in the series’ first game — manager Bud Black went with righty sidearmer Adam Ottavino, the one Rockies reliever who has been good all season.
Mike Moustakas started the 9th by hitting his first home run as a Brewer off of Ottavino, taking full advantage of the short porch in right field to cut the deficit to 4-2. Braun then reached on catcher’s interference and stole second base and Erik Kratz reached on a wild pitch third strike to bring up Orlando Arcia, who again came up big in a 9th inning at-bat by delivering an RBI double, making it 4-3 Rockies.
Orlando Arcia has struggled at the plate this season, but also some clutch at bats. Go-ahead RBI in 3 games vs Padres, Cubs, Cardinals, and just tied the game with 2-strike double in 9th. Free baseball at Miller Park.— Sophia Minnaert (@SophiaMinnaert) August 5, 2018
Another wild pitch — it was not catcher Tom Murphy’s best inning, to say the least — allowed Kratz to score the tying run with Hernan Perez at the plate. Perez then nearly got down a safety squeeze attempt, but it went foul and he eventually struck out to end the inning.
After Corey Knebel pitched a clean 10th inning (outside of a two-out walk), Christian Yelich led off the bottom half of that inning with another hit, but Eric Thames got just under one to fly out and Moustakas hit into an inning-ending double play after hitting one off the pitcher.
Counsell rolled the dice by pitching Knebel for a second inning, and it almost worked. Knebel got Charlie Blackmon to ground out and struck out DJ LeMahieu, but fell behind Nolan Arenado 3-0 before surrendering a go-ahead solo home run on a 3-2 count to the NL’s home run leader. Knebel recovered to strike out Story to end the inning.
Still, the Brewers offense wouldn’t quit, and the Rockies bullpen was willing to make it interesting. Shaw led off the bottom of the 11th with an opposite field leadoff single, and Jonathan Schoop blooped a single to center to put two men on for Erik Kratz, who at first seemed to beat out a double play with a headfirst slide into first, but the game ended after a review showed Kratz was out. It turns out you can be 38 years old and still think it’s a good idea to slide into first base.
While the result was disappointing, there is something worth noting about this game: Counsell has taken some heat from fans this year about his unwillingness to use his best relievers while trailing in close games. That wasn’t the case today.
After Miley exited after 5 innings and the Brewers trailing 3-1, Counsell used (in order) Joakim Soria, Jeremy Jeffress, Josh Hader, Corbin Burnes and then Corey Knebel. Counsell has pointed to not being able to use his best in every game and the Brewers’ crazy stretch of games — 21 in 20 days leading up to the All-Star break, then 17 straight after the break including an 8-game West coast road trip — to explain his reluctance to do that. With so many off-days scheduled in the second half, including one tomorrow, this may be the start of Counsell using those big guns to keep games close more often.
If there’s a bright side, it’s that the Cubs also lost at home this afternoon to San Diego, meaning the Brewers remain just a game behind Chicago in the NL Central race with the Padres coming to town starting Tuesday. The Cubs head to Kansas City.