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Brewers Best Birds in Bullpen Battle 9.24.18

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Cardinals play off aspirations suffer a major blow.

Milwaukee Brewers v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Essential Information

The Brewers won 6-4. The bullpen is bad. So is Lance Barksdale.

The story of this game was the bullpen’s ineffectiveness. The Cardinals won’t go anywhere in October with this mess. Every inning in which a Cardinal reliever pitched saw runs cross the plate. What can Shildt do with this group?

The offense showed some resiliency tonight, and took one of the best relievers in baseball to the woodshed. Josh Hader was not himself tonight, and Jose Martinez & Marcell Ozuna made him pay, with a pair of home runs in the 6th inning to briefly give the Cardinals the lead.

But while Hader faltered, the rest of the Brewer bullpen shined. They combined for 8.0 innings, striking out 9, walking 0, and allowing 1 run. Meanwhile the Cardinal bullpen went 3.2 innings, struck out 2, walked 4, and allowed 3 runs.

The Rockies won big over the Phillies, pulling within half a game of the Cardinals in the 2nd Wild Card spot. The Cubs lost, meaning the Brewers now sit 1.5 back of 1st in the Central.

Final Lines

Jack Flaherty: 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 1 HR, 5 K, 2 BB, 50 GSc, 93 pitches.

Freddy Peralta: 3.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 0 HR< 3 K, 0 BB, 47 pitches.

Events

1st Inning

Flaherty successfully navigated a scoreless 1st. He got ahead 1-2 to Cain, but the Brewer center-fielder was looking for a slider and got one away off the plate, and served into RF for a lead off single. But Flaherty battled back, and busted Christian Yelich inside with a 2-1 slider and got him to ground into a 5-4-3 double play. Flaherty finished off the inning by getting Aguilar to line out to SS. He threw 13 pitches.

The Brewers employed an Opener in order to get an advantage on MVP candidate Matt Carpenter - a move that was met with a chorus of boos from my living room. Dan Jennings was there to face that lone batter, and got him to ground out to 2B with 3 pitches. Freddy Peralta relieved him to face the righties in the heart of the Cardinal order, successfully getting Martinez to ground out to 2B and DeJong to fly out to RF on 3 pitches of his own.

2nd Inning

The Brewers struck first. After Shaw went down swinging over the top of a curveball, Ryan Braun got an elevated slider hung up in the zone and demolished it to the upper deck in LF, right next to Big Mac Land. It was a bomb. Flaherty recovered to strike out Moustakas swinging at an inside slider, and get Pina to pop out to 2B on his 26th pitch. 1-0 Brewers.

Freddy Peralta returned to face the heart of the Cardinals order, and set them down in order. He got Ozuna to pop out to RF on the first pitch, struck out Gyorko swinging at an eye-level fastball, and got Yadi to ground out to 3B after an 11-pitch battle. He was up to 20 pitches.

3rd Inning

Flaherty responded with another scoreless inning. He got Arcia to fly out to Bader in RCF to start, who flashed in front of a mildly annoyed Martinez to make the catch. Cain, after his pitcher grounded out to 1B, flipped another single to RCF, and Flaherty fell behind Yelich 3-0, but ultimately got in on his hands again and got him to pop out to short LF. He was at 43 pitches.

NOTE: Innings like this one look fine on paper, but I am on the verge of trembling throughout them. I’ve missed this.

The Cardinals pulled even in the 3rd. Though Bader struck out looking at a fastball at the bottom of the zone, Yairo Munoz recorded the Cardinals’ first hit by sending an 0-2 fastball right back where it came from. Flaherty tried to bunt him to 2B, but couldn’t place one fair and struck out with a foul bunt. This proved to be a blessing in disguise, as there was consequentially no convenient place to stash Carpenter. Peralta stayed in to face him, grooved a first-pitch fastball, and Carpenter roped an RBI double that one-hopped the wall in RCF. Martinez grounded out sharply to 3B to strand him at 2B. Peralta was up to 35 pitches. 1-1 Tie.

4th Inning

Flaherty smothered the Brewers, in what was his strongest inning of the game to this point. He made Aguilar look foolish as he swung through a slider a foot off the plate, and then painted the inside corner to strike out Shaw with a beautifully-located fastball. He got redemption against Braun for the final out, getting him to ground out sharply to SS on his 53rd pitch.

The Cardinals got some good swings on Peralta again in the 4th, but came up empty-handed. Paul DeJong ripped a lead off single through the hole on the left side of the infield, and Ozuna got a hanging breaking ball up-and-away. He crushed it (105 mph, 397 feet) to dead CF, where Cain briefly turned his back, in what proved to be a deke, as he caught the ball comfortably, 2 feet in front of the wall. Jedd and Yadi popped out to short RF and C to end the inning. Peralta was up to 47 pitches.

5th Inning

Flaherty surrendered another hit, but threw up another zero. He got his money’s worth in an 11-pitch battle with Moustakas, striking him out with a slider low-and-in, and then got Manny Pina to fly out to Martinez on the track in RF. Orlando Arcia flipped a 2-2 fastball into RF for a single, but Flaherty got pinch-hitter Tyler Saladino to pop out to 2B on a 3-2 slider. His pitch count was 78.

The Cardinals didn’t score a run in the 5th, but they did score a strategic victory. Carpenter was due up 4th, and the Brewers were hoping to set the Cardinals down in order and avoid having to use Hader so early. Taylor Williams was the pitcher set with this task, and he got off to a good start. He got Bader to fly out to RF, and Munoz to ground out to 2B. But Jack Flaherty threw a wrench in the Brewers’ plans by stroking a single up the middle, bringing up Carpenter. Hader relieved, and got Carpenter to strike out swinging at a slider away.

6th Inning

Flaherty fell apart in the 6th, and Shildt was too slow to curb the fallout. Jedd Gyorko saved his starter with a fantastic diving stop on Cain smash down the 3B line to turn a surefire double into an out. But that was when the wheels came off. Yelich watched a steady diet of sliders and drew a walk, Aguilar got hit by a slider that didn’t slide, and Shaw drew another walk to load the bases. Shildt finally pulled the plug on Flaherty, and replaced him with Hudson, but Dakota walked Ryan Braun on 4 pitches to force in the go-ahead run. He then bounced a series of pitches in a battle with Moustakas, and got him to fly out to LF. The slow-footed Aguilar tested the limp-armed Ozuna, and Gyorko decided to cut the weak throw off, allow the run to score, and tag out Shaw between 2B & 3B. 3-1 Brewers.

Josh Hader just sat through that mess of a frame, and when he stepped back on the mound, he had nothing. Jose Martinez immediately launched a low, 2-0 fastball onto the berm in CF to halve the Brewer lead. Paul DeJong followed that up by working a 3-2 count and then a walk, and Marcell Ozuna got low fastball to his liking and obliterated it, putting it on a line over the wall in LCF to give the Cardinals the lead.

After Gyorko struck out looking at a fastball down the middle, and Yadi flew out to Shaw ranging into short RF, Harrison Bader ripped a double to LCF that one-hopped the wall. Yairo Munoz worked a walk to finally chase Hader, and Junior Guerra got pinch-hitter Matt Adams to pop out to LF. 4-3 Cardinals.

7th Inning

Jordan Hicks relieved Hudson, and faired little better. Manny Pina greeted him by stroking a 3-2 fastball through the right side of the infield, and was pinch-run for by the fleet Keon Broxton. Arcia moved him up to 2B with a tap out to Hicks (who unleashed hell in the form of a seed to Carpenter at 1B,) and then Hicks’ control disappeared. He walk both pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson and Lorenzo Cain, and Christian Yelich brought a run in with a chopper up the middle that DeJong was able to backhand and turn into an out at 2B. Hicks finally struck out Aguilar swinging with his first slider of the inning to escape any more damage. 4-4 Tie.

Lefty Xavier Cedeno relieved Guerra to face Carpenter, and got him to fly out to CF. The rain then became too much to overcome, and we endured a half hour rain delay.

RAIN DELAY

When the game resumed, righty Corbin Burnes set down the rest of the order, despite the Brewer defense. Jose Martinez knuckled a fliner out towards short, where it hit off the heel of Arcia’s glove, allowing Jose to reach safely. Then, after DeJong struck out looking at a front-door slider, Ozuna rocked a liner to 3B that Moustakas dropped. But Marcell stopped running briefly when he thought Moose caught it, and was thrown out by a step at 1B.

8th Inning

Bud Norris relieved Hicks, and also struggled. He looked really good as he struck out Travis Shaw with a 97 mph fastball. But he left a pitch up to Eric Thames, who ripped it out to RF with topspin, which fooled Martinez, and it scooted past the sliding outfielder to the wall for a triple — and Bud was in trouble. Shildt intentionally walked Moustakas, but Norris became preoccupied with the new baserunner on 1B, and uncorked a terrible pickoff throw that hit Moustakas in the rib cage, caromed into foul territory, and allowed Thames to score. Ugh. Erik Kratz then looped a single to CF to push Moustakas to 3B, but Arcia grounded a fielder’s choice to DeJong that saw Moose cut down at home, and Granderson flew out to LF. 5-4 Brewers.

Joakim Soria relieved Burnes, and set the Cardinals down in order. He struck out Gyorko with a fastball away, got Yadi to ground out to 1B, and struck Bader out swinging with an elevated fastball.

9th Inning

The Brewers grabbed some insurance in the 9th. Mike Mayers relieved Norris, and looked to have struck out Cain with a nice slider on the outside corner. Lance Barksdale disagreed and, soon after, Cain ripped another single to CF. Mayers then didn’t get another borderline call against Yelich and, soon after, he ripped an RBI double down the LF line. Mayers got Aguilar to ground out to SS, and was replaced by Tyler Webb. Webb got Shaw to fly out to CF, and then Dominic Leone got pinch-hitter Hernan Perez to fly out to CF. 6-4 Brewers.

Corey Knebel closed this one out. He struck out Munoz swinging with a fastball above the zone, and Wong swinging with a fastball at the top of the zone. He “hit” Carpenter with a fastball that New York couldn’t prove otherwise, which brought up Jose Martinez. Martinez battled, fouling off fastball off the plate after fastball off the plate, but ultimately struck out looking at a curveball off the plate. Brewers win 6-4.

Notes

  • Lance Barksdale can eat m

The Cardinals will try to get that one back tomorrow, sending Austin Gomber to face Gio Gonzalez. Game starts at 7:15 CST, and can be viewed on FSMW.