By all accounts, the next dozen games beginning with this series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals is a pivotal stretch for the Milwaukee Brewers and their dwindling playoff hopes. And unfortunately, the team started things off with a whimper.
From the get-go, Gio Gonzalez did not have command of the strike zone in this one. He loaded the bases in the first inning with a double and a pair of walks, then with two outs, Yadier Molina reached out across the plate and lined a soft single to plate a pair of runners. 2-0 Cardinals.
But it was the second inning that was truly a disaster for Gio and the Brewers. Harrison Bader singled on a ground ball off the glove/wrist of Mike Moustakas, who would later leave the game (x-rays were negative, but Moose doesn’t figure to play on Tuesday). Opposing pitcher Adam Wainwright bunted him up to second. An errant pickoff throw pushed Bader up to third, and he scored on a single by Dexter Fowler. Tommy Edman singled, then Paul Goldschmidt walked to load the bases. Marcell Ozuna cleared the bags with a three-run double. Paul DeJong walked, then Molina reached on an error by Moose to re-load the bases. After a Matt Carpenter whiff for the second out, Bader lined a ground rule double to left to plate two more. Waino then mercifully popped out to end the inning, but by the time the dust had settled, Milwaukee’s deficit was 8-0.
Milwaukee’s offense did tally nine hits and four walks in this game, but as has been the theme all year, struggled to score many of the men they put on base. Milwaukee went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position, stranding two runners in the first, another in the second, two more in the third, and bases loaded in the fourth. If there is a silver lining to this one, it is that they forced Wainwright out of the game with 90 pitches through 3.2 innings. But once the Brew Crew got into STL’s bullpen, they managed only three more base knocks the rest of the night against John Gant, Dominic Leone, Andrew Miller, and Carlos Martinez.
Recent call-up (and potential 2020 shortstop candidate?) Cory Spangenberg had himself a nice game, going 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. The other run batted in for Milwaukee belonged to Lorenzo Cain, who doubled Spangenberg home in the fourth inning as Wainwright’s day was ending. Christian Yelich was 2-for-2 with a pair of walks, and Eric Thames smoked a double and a triple while going 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Gonzalez finished his day with nine runs allowed in five innings, though only seven of them were earned. It was perhaps a small victory that Gonzalez was able to settle down and eat some innings; he yielded only one run total in his final three innings — a solo shot by Yadi — finishing the day at 102 pitches. Jay Jackson came on after Gio and allowed a pair of runs in his inning on a mammoth home run by DeJong. Alex Claudio walked three and allowed a run in 1.2 innings, and Ray Black finished this one out for Milwaukee with 1.1 scoreless, hitless frames.
At the end of the night, the scoreboard read 12-2 in favor of the visitors. The brutal loss drops our beloved local nine to 67-64 and they are now 5.5 games behind St. Louis for the divisional lead. Milwaukee trails the Cubs by 2.5 games for the second Wild Card spot, too. The Brewers and Cardinals will match up again in the middle game of the series on Tuesday evening, with first pitch scheduled for 6:40 PM central at Miller Park. Adrian Houser is set to toe the slab against Miles Mikolas.