Baseball’s extra innings rule may be controversial (if you’re being kind), but the Brewers seem to be on to something with the new format.
Even with a momentary blip from the bullpen when Trevor Richards immediately squandered a rare “win” opportunity for Corbin Burnes in the 7th inning, Brent Suter and Josh Hader got the game to extra innings, and Luis Urias was able to play the hero this time to drive in the free runner for a 3-2 win over the Detroit Tigers.
It was the second straight walkoff win at home for the Brewers, their 5th win in a row overall, and improved their record to 6-3 in extra-inning games this year.
Corbin Burnes once again allowed more baserunners than we’ve become accustomed to seeing from him this year, walking 2 batters (after walking 3 in his last start) and scattering 6 hits, but he still struck out 7 over 6 innings and did not allow a run until his final inning of work, when familiar face Jonathan Schoop worked a 10-pitch at-bat — twice nearly hitting towering home runs that were just barely foul — before hitting a hard line drive RBI single for the game’s first run.
10-pitch battle between Jonathan Schoop and Corbin Burnes.— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) May 31, 2021
Advantage: Schoop pic.twitter.com/0DqQhnrrXi
The Brewers offense finally picked Burnes up, though, responding in the bottom of the 6th when Willy Adames continued his hot hitting since becoming a Brewer by hitting a two-run, opposite-field home run into the picnic area to give the Brewers a 2-1 lead.
It’s been rare for the Brewers’ offense to offer Burnes any kind of support, so it was notable that he was in line to be credited with just his third win of the year (and the first in which he had given up any runs). That quickly went away, though, when Richards allowed the game-tying home run to Akil Baddoo in the top of the 7th inning.
That inning would also prove to be costly in another way — Lorenzo Cain had to leave the game after seemingly pulling his hamstring making a long running catch later in the inning.
Cain was replaced by Jackie Bradley, Jr. in the field in a bit of shuffling that ended up with Keston Hiura in left field. The ball found Hiura right away, but he managed to make a nice running catch to end the 7th. While Hiura continues to struggle to find his way at the plate, he was at least able to contribute in the field — both with that play and one earlier in the top of the 5th, when he was able to snare a liner down the first base line and tag first base from his stomach for an inning-ending double play.
Both managers decided to bunt in extra innings, but got different results.
Detroit manager A.J. Hinch, known to be analytically-minded but also managing one of the few teams worse offensively than the Brewers, decided to bunt with pinch-hitter Willi Castro. He was able to get the ball down and move runner Jake Rogers over the third base, but both Robbie Grossman and Harold Castro struck out looking against Brad Boxberger to end the inning.
In the bottom half of the inning, Craig Counsell also decided to bunt, knowing he had a contact hitter in Luis Urias coming up after Keston Hiura — either Hiura would get the bunt down and just about any sort of contact from Urias would win the game, or Urias would be a good fallback option to get a hit if Hiura couldn’t get it down. It turns out Hiura was able to bunt, moving Omar Narvaez to third base.
It also turns out that bunt was moot, as Urias took a 97 mph fastball from Jose Cisnero that was out of the zone to deep right field on a play that would’ve scored Narvaez on a ground rule double regardless. Either way, the Brewers were celebrating again.
The Brewers end May with a record of 29-25 and will be no worse than just 2 games out of first place in the NL Central, pending the results of the Cardinals/Dodgers game tonight.
Milwaukee will go for a 6th straight win and a two-game sweep of the Tigers tomorrow night. Eric Lauer will get the start for the Brewers.