W: Junior Guerra (2-0)
L: Wandy Peralta (0-1, BS 1)
SV: Josh Hader (12)
HR: CIN - Tucker Barnhart (4), Derek Dietrich (12); MIL - Keston Hiura (2), Mike Moustakas (12), Yasmani Grandal (9)
I’m going with the word “try” here because it was the weirdest baseball game the Brewers have played this year, and there’s no way to truly capture the bizarre afternoon that lasted nearly 4 hours and involved 20 runs and 23 hits.
This was supposed to be a pitcher’s duel, one of those afternoon getaway games with two starting pitchers who have been cruising all year. A nice, tidy, sub-3 hour game, you know?
All hope for that went out the window in the second inning, when the Reds dinked and dunked Zach Davies to death with four straight hits, including a 2-RBI bloop by Josh VanMeter that put the Reds up 2-0 early. There was still hope that Davies would get out of the inning without getting hit hard, until Tucker Barnhart -- who came into the game hitting .170/.285/.274 -- launched a 3-run home run into the second deck to make it 5-0 early.
With Luis Castillo on the mound, you’d be forgiven for thinking that would be that and you could go on with the rest of your afternoon. But the Brewers’ lineup -- even without Christian Yelich, Ryan Braun and Jesus Aguilar in the starting nine -- showed why they’re never out of the game.
Keston Hiura led off the Brewers’ half of the 2nd inning with his second home run of the season, and his first at Miller Park to cut the lead to 5-1.
The rally would continue with a walk by Ben Gamel and a double by Hernan Perez, but the Brewers weren’t able to add any more runs after Orlando Arcia chopped out to third, Zach Davies’ safety squeeze attempt ended on an out at home, and Lorenzo Cain grounded out on a chopper up the middle.
The Reds got that run right back, though, with Derek Dietrich teeing off on Davies in the top of the 3rd and admiring an admittedly impressive home run about halfway up the batter’s eye in dead center to make it 6-1 Reds.
Again, that could have easily been a momentum killer, and the Brewers could have easily packed it in to try to fast forward to an off-day tomorrow. Instead, they ended up chasing one of the NL’s best starters from the game in the 3rd inning.
Mike Moustakas led off the bottom of the 3rd by nearly hitting the Toyota truck in right center field to cut the deficit to 6-2.
So close! If this homerun would have hit the Toyota Rav4, a fan in attendance would have driven away with it pic.twitter.com/CP1KRV9JQ5— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) May 22, 2019
The Brewers would end up loading the bases later in the inning thanks to a walk from Yasmani Grandal, a hit by pitch to Gamel, and an infield single by Perez. That brought up Arcia, who got the count to 3-0 with the bases loaded before taking a strike and then whiffing on what would’ve been ball four. He would redeem himself, though, extending the at-bat to 9 pitches before getting a 2-RBI bloop hit of his own to put the Brewers within 2 runs at 6-4.
The rally caused Craig Counsell to go for it early, pinch-hitting for Davies with Ryan Braun and forcing Old Friend David Bell to pull his ace after just 2.2 innings. Michael Lorenzen would come on in relief and was able to get Braun out on a check swing call to end the threat.
Corbin Burnes came on in relief of Davies in the 4th inning and had no issues in his first inning of work, putting together one of the rare 1-2-3 innings in this game. In the bottom half of the 4th, the Brewers offense kept chugging along. Lorenzo Cain got on base via an error after hitting a ball off Lorenzen, whose rushed throw to first allowed Cain to reach. A single by Moustakas would send Cain to third, and then Eric Thames would tie the game at 6 with a 2-RBI single up the middle.
Burnes looked like he would continue cruising in his second inning of work, picking up two more quick outs before giving up a 2-out bloop single to Eugenio Suarez and walking Jesse Winker. A weird situation then unfolded in an at-bat against Dietrich, when Dietrich called for and was granted an extremely late time out call while Burnes was starting his motion. Burnes stopped his delivery halfway through and appeared to be a little shaken up and was checked out by the trainer before being allowed to continue -- and eventually walk Dietrich to load the bases.
That ended Burnes’ day, with Counsell calling on Junior Guerra in relief. Guerra was able to get Jose Iglesias to an 0-2 count, but yet another ducksnort for the Reds led to two more runs, putting them back on top at 8-6.
The Brewers would rally again in the 6th inning, though, and this time they didn’t just tie it -- they took the lead with a big 5-run inning.
Moustakas led off the inning with another single for his third hit of the game, this time against lefty Wandy Peralta. Grandal followed with a screaming 2-run home run to tie the game at 8, and then Thames also singled off the lefty.
Peralta was eventually removed after hitting Gamel (on the receiving end of a HBP for the second time in this game, this time on a scary fastball that may have hit him in the head if he didn’t get his shoulder up at the last second), relieved in favor of David Hernandez, who promptly gave up the go-ahead RBI single to Perez.
Yet another soft single by Arcia scored Gamel and pushed the Brewers’ lead to 10-8, and Jesus Aguilar added another run on a pinch-hit sacrifice fly.
Even with an 11-8 lead, though, things would not be easy for the Brewers over the last few innings. Alex Claudio was called on to start the 7th inning, but was only able to record one out, walking Suarez to start the inning, getting Winker to ground out, and hitting Dietrich with a pitch. That forced Counsell to use Jeremy Jeffress before he likely wanted to, and Jeffress followed by allowing a single to Iglesias and hitting Curt Casali with the bases loaded to allow a run before getting bailed out of the inning on a truly bizarre Little League-level play.
Jeffress got Phillip Ervin to strike out swinging, but appeared to cross up Grandal in the process, with the pitch getting through to the backstop untouched. The ball bounced back so hard that Dietrich was unable to move from third base, but Casali was caught off of first base and was eventually tagged out in an inning-ending rundown while Dietrich never tried to score from third.
❓❓❓❓❓❓❓— FOX Sports Wisconsin (@fswisconsin) May 22, 2019
One of the stranger plays you'll see this season pic.twitter.com/0ccGpQRLic
Jeffress would return to the mound in the 8th inning, but after giving up singles to Jose Peraza and Joey Votto and the Brewers clinging to an 11-9 lead, Josh Hader was asked to pick up the final 5 outs.
Because it was that kind of afternoon, even Hader’s outing got off to a tense start. Suarez hung with Hader for a 7-pitch at-bat before flying out to shallow right, and a strong throw from right field by Perez kept Peraza from trying to score. Winker followed with a very hard-hit ball up the middle that would have normally scored a run, but Arcia was positioned perfectly to grab the line drive that had Hader diving out of the way.
The 9th inning was much more Hader-like, striking out Dietrich on three pitches, Iglesias on four pitches, and getting Casali to foul out to end the game.
Overall, an ugly win is still a win, and the offense put together an impressive day against one of the best-pitching teams in the NL a day after getting shut out. They’ll hope to carry that momentum through the off day before welcoming Philadelphia to Miller Park for the weekend.