Coming into the weekend, manager Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs said that he wasn’t going to run his ‘A’ lineup out on to the field during their final series in St. Louis, which was an understandable thought. His team was already eliminated and star players Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and Kris Bryant are all dealing with injuries. But that hasn’t stopped the Cubs from doing every favor possible to try and hand the Milwaukee Brewers the division title, as the Northside Nine has defeated the Cardinals in both of their weekend matchups so far.
If only the Brewers could take advantage.
It was a battle of the Gonzalez’s tonight in Colorado, with Gio going for the visitors against Chi Chi of the hosts. Both hurlers performed well in what ended being a rare pitching duel at Coors Field, with Chi Chi starting the contest by tossing four hitless innings before buckling in the fifth. He served up a leadoff home run to Eric Thames, but that towering moonshot would be the only damage against him across six complete frames. Gio worked around a bit more traffic, allowing four hits and two walks in 4.2 innings, but he completed his work for the day without allowing a run. Freddy Peralta cleaned up the final out of the fifth inning with a strikeout.
In the sixth, it looked like the Brewers had added another run. Yasmani Grandal walked with one out and was followed by Mike Moustakas, who roped a double to right field. Grandal motored around the bases and appeared to score to make it 2-0, but the Rockies challenged the play. Upon review, it was determined that Grandal failed to touch home plate on his slide. He was correctly ruled out and the tally was taken off the board.
Brent Suter found himself in some immediate trouble in the bottom of the sixth when Ian Desmond led off the frame with a triple. But he whiffed Ryan McMahon next and then got Josh Fuentes to ground a ball to third base, and Mike Moustakas gunned down Desmond at home as he tried to score. Lorenzo Cain made a tremendous diving stop on a liner off the bat of Yonathan Daza to end the sixth, an impressive play that wouldn’t even end up being his best of the night.
Milwaukee did add their second and final run in the seventh inning. Cain doubled with one out, but with Ben Gamel at the plate, he was inexplicably thrown out trying to steal third base. Gamel ended up lining a single back up the middle that would have easily scored Lorenzo, but instead it was just a runner on first with two outs. It loomed even larger when Orlando Arcia roped a double to the right field corner that scored Gamel to stretch the lead to 2-0 instead of 3-0.
Junior Guerra came out for the bottom of the seventh, and after a groundout for the first out, Daniel Murphy knocked a base hit to right. The next batter, Garrett Hampson, crushed a fly ball to deep center that could have tied the game. Not today, said LoCain.
Drew Pomeranz came on and got the final out of the seventh, then returned to the mound to pitch the eighth inning. He struck out the side, but also allowed a solo dinger to Desmond to slice Milwaukee’s advantage to 2-1. In the top of the ninth, Cain reached base for the third time of the night, singling with two outs. Gamel once again came up with a clutch hit, doubling to center field. Cain was waved around towards home, but the throw from Daza beat him. Tony Wolters fielded the throw in the baseline and there was a collision with Cain, who wasn’t even able to reach home after sliding into Wolters. He was also injured on the play, going down in a heap before eventually limping off the field under his own power. After the game, his diagnosis was revealed as a sprained ankle. Counsell challenged the play saying that Wolters didn’t give Cain a clear line to home, but the call was upheld after a replay review. Counsell was ejected for voicing his displeasure with the determination, and after the game told reporters that he isn’t even sure why the rule is there if that type of play doesn’t get overturned.
In any case, the Brewers took a 2-1 lead to the bottom of the ninth and handed the ball to All-Star lefty Josh Hader. He got a lineout and a strikeout for the first two outs, then with an 0-1 count, threw a 97 MPH above the letters to rookie Sam Hilliard. The left-handed hitter inside-outed the pitch over the fence to the opposite field in left to tie the game up at 2-2. It was Josh’s first blown save after 12 straight opportunities converted. Hampson followed with a single before Hader struck out Charlie Blackmon to escape further damage.
The Brewers went 1-2-3 in the top of the 10th, then acting manager Pat Murphy went to Matt Albers for the bottom half of the inning. It was his first appearance since September 21st against the Pirates and he entered the night with an 8.31 ERA for the month. After taking the leadoff batter Trevor Story to a 3-2 count, Albers left a 94 MPH sinker up in the zone that Story was able to get up into the air and keep just inside the foul pole down the right field line for a walk-off home run. The losing effort was probably Albers’ final appearance as a member of the Brewers as he’ll be a free agent at the end of the season.
There are now three pitchers in Brewers franchise history with at least 100 appearances and a 5+ ERA:— Kyle Lobner (@byKyleLobner) September 29, 2019
Matt Albers, who just made career appearance #100 in a critical spot in a pennant chase game and allowed a walkoff homer.
The Cubs held off the Cardinals 8-6 in St. Louis, meaning that our beloved local nine remains one game back of the lead in the NL Central standings. The best that Milwaukee can hope for now after tonight’s brutal loss is a sudden-death game 163 against St. Louis, which would require the Cubs to complete their sweep of the Cardinals tomorrow and for the Brewers win the series finale against the Rockies. Adrian Houser will get the ball for Milwaukee, facing off against Jeff Hoffman. First pitch for every game tomorrow is scheduled for 2:10 PM central.