Coming into this evening’s ball game, Corbin Burnes was in position to win an ERA title and to enhance a claim on a National League Cy Young award. By the end of his night his chances at an ERA title and the Cy Young vanished into thin air. Burnes was not on at all this evening, and it just got worse and worse as his short night wore on.
All four innings Corbin Burnes pitched in were a struggle for him. In the first three innings, he was pitching around multiple jams in which he gave up just one run. In fact he was pitching with a lot of grit, because he obviously did not have his normal stuff. That first run he gave up came in the bottom of the third when the Cardinals strung together three straight singles by Kolten Wong, Tommy Edman, and Paul Goldschmidt to lead off the inning. Wong scored on the Goldschmidt single. As Burnes did in the previous two innings, he pitched out of trouble and held St. Louis to just the run. We should have seen trouble brewing, because at the end of three innings pitched, Burnes had thrown 68 stress-filled pitches.
The Brewers did respond in the top of the fourth. Ryan Braun ripped a 3-2 fastball from Kwang-Hyun Kim to left field for a single. Braun was eliminated from the base paths on a fielder’s choice by Jedd Gyorko who was safe at first. Keston Hiura followed with a single to center. Gyorko scored on a single that snuck under the glove of Paul DeJong.
That was as good as it would get for Milwaukee. In fact things turned pretty bad for in the bottom of the fourth. First and foremost what was happening with the radar gun was becoming notable. Corbin Burnes was pitching at 92-94 mph much of the night, which was down from his normal. In the fourth, his fastball velocity was 88-91 mph. Something was definitely getting worse in that inning.
An 89 mph fastball from Burnes is what Dylan Carlson hit out of the ballpark for a 2-run shot. Dexter Fowler was on in front of him after he drew a walk from Burnes when he was initially down 0-2. Burnes tried to continue, but after one pitch into the Tommy Edman at-bat, Burnes started walking toward centerfield, and Jacob Nottingham started waving for the trainer and Craig Counsell to come out. Burnes immediately left the game shaking his head. Evidently he was battling a lower back discomfort for some or all of this ball game.
Re: That mound visit from Counsell, Hook and Scott Barringer before the go-ahead homer. Corbin Burnes was wearing a massage device on his back or right side between innings earlier in the game. pic.twitter.com/tksA9zmOje— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) September 25, 2020
Eric Yardley replaced Burnes and pitched out of the trouble of the fourth inning as well as a scoreless fifth. Corey Knebel took the sixth inning and started things off by walking Dexter Fowler. Fowler scored when Dylan Carlson doubled into the left centerfield gap on a fly ball that one has to wonder if Lorenzo Cain was patrolling the outfield tonight, would he have made the play?
In this game, every Cardinal hitter had an at-bat with at least one runner in scoring position. Every Cardinal starting position player also reached base tonight. In some ways, it was amazing St. Louis only scored four runs. Oh let us not forget that Yadier Molina got his 2000th hit in the seventh inning. Congratulation to one of the biggest Brewers’ nemeses of all time.
The Brewers did make it interesting in the top of the ninth. Jace Peterson and Daniel Vogelbach singled. Peterson scored on what should have been a double by Eric Sogard down the left field line. With Daniel Vogelbach, you take the good and the bad. In this case, his lack of speed ensured that he and Sogard were station-to-station and at first and second instead of second and third with one out. Unfortunately the Brewers did not come through, with Christian Yelich, representing the go-ahead run at the plate, ending the game with a strike out.
These same two teams go at it tomorrow in two seven inning games. Jack Flaherty goes to the mound for St. Louis in game 1 of the doubleheader. Daniel Ponce de Leon goes in game 2. The Brewers have not announced starters yet. First pitch of game 1 is scheduled for 4:15 CT. The game can be seen on Fox Sports Wisconsin and heard on WTMJ 620.