The Milwaukee Brewers needed some help on the last day of the season if they hoped to tie for the lead in the National League Central, and today they did not get it. The Cubs managed to beat the Cardinals in the first two games of their season-ending series in St. Louis, but the Brewers blew both chances to draw even in the standings by losing their first two games to Colorado. Chicago got walloped by the Cardinals this afternoon in a game that ended long before the contest at Coors Field end, essentially rendering the outcome of this afternoon’s tilt between the Rockies and Brewers meaningless.
So, of course, it lasted longer than four hours and went into the 13th inning.
Milwaukee jumped out to a quick lead in the within the first two batters of the game against Jeff Hoffman. Trent Grisham walked to lead off the game and then Yasmani Grandal launched a moonshot out over the fence in right field for an early 2-0 lead. Grandal’s 28th home run of the season established a new personal career-high.
For awhile, that’d be all the scoring. Adrian Houser started for the Brewers and tossed 4.0 scoreless innings with only one hit and one walk allowed, striking out five. He ends his first full big league season with a 3.72 ERA across 111.1 innings pitched, and it seems safe to pencil his name into the rotation mix for 2020. He was pulled after only 48 pitches once it became clear that the Cardinals were going to win the division, and other regular position players eventually followed suit. Grisham, Grandal, Mike Moustakas, and Eric Thames all hit the showers early, though for some reason Keston Hiura wound up staying in at second base for the entire game.
Ray Black (fifth) and Devin Williams (sixth) each tossed a scoreless inning, and the second-team offense added another run to the board in the top of the sixth. Hernan Perez, who entered the game replacing Moose at third base, hit a home run on the first pitch of the inning to extend the lead to 3-0.
Corbin Burnes came on in the seventh inning and surrendered a run on a pair of base hits and a stolen bag. He came back out for the eighth and allowed a leadoff home run to Dom Nunez, which sliced the lead to 3-2. Burnes ends the year with an 8.82 ERA and 17 home runs allowed (3.12 HR/9) in 49.0 innings, and he’ll surely be glad to turn the page on a wasted year in 2019.
The Brewers drew a pair of two-out walks in the top of the ninth but they were stranded by Perez, and then Taylor Williams came out to try and close the game in the bottom of the ninth. He got a groundout to lead off the inning, but then Raimel Tapia reached on an error by Tyler Austin and made it all the way to second. Josh Fuentes walked to put runners on first and second. After a mound visit, Pat Valaika singled to left to score Tapia and tie the ballgame at three apiece. Williams finished the inning with a pair of strikeouts, and the fans in Denver were treated to some free baseball.
Milwaukee failed to score in the 10th, and Williams threw a second inning, this time scoreless, to send it to the 11th. Ben Gamel led off that inning with a walk, then a Tyrone Taylor double put runners on second and third. Jacob Nottingham was plunked to load the bases with no outs. Then, with Manny Pina at the plate, Gamel was thrown out trying to score on a wild pitch by DJ Johnson. Pina eventually struck out, then Perez did the same thing, so the Brewers failed to cash in on the excellent scoring opportunity.
Jimmy Nelson, throwing perhaps his final game with the Brewers, looked flat out dominant in the 11th and 12th. He struck out four batters across two perfect frames. The Brewers didn’t put up any real offensive threat in the 12th or 13th inning, then Craig Counsell called on Jake Faria for the bottom of the 13th. He walked Sam Hilliard to lead off the inning, then Yonathan Daza reached on what was ruled an infield single when Nottingham threw the ball away at first base. That allowed Hilliard to reach third base. With Ian Desmond at the plate, Faria uncorked a wild pitch and Hilliard dashed home to score the winning run.
So the regular season ends with a sweep on the road at the hands of the lowly Rockies, and the Brewers finish with an 89-73 record, two games back of the Cardinals for the NL Central title. Milwaukee also misses out on their chance to win 90+ games in back-to-back years for the first time since 1978-79. Still, it was an improbable 20-7 sprint to the finish during the month of September that winds up propelling the Brewers to consecutive postseason berths for the first time since 1981-82. This is the 18th winning season in franchise history, and 89 victory is the ninth-highest single season total that the Brewers have ever recorded. It is the sixth time ever that our beloved local nine has qualified for the postseason.
So, now it is on to Washington and the Wild Card game on Tuesday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:08 PM central time. Max Scherzer will start for the Nationals, and Counsell has yet to reveal who his starter will be. Expect Brandon Woodruff to factor into that mix, though, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Jordan ‘Ace’ Lyles in the do-or-die contest, either. Ryan Braun and Lorenzo Cain figure to be available for that one, too.