In a game that featured six home runs (almost seven), the Cardinals and Brewers flashed signs of what’s in store when they meet this season. With early rallies and some late tension, the Cardinals fell to the Brewers, 5-4, on Opening Day at Miller Park on Thursday afternoon.
Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong made history on Thursday by hitting two home runs. Wong joined Albert Pujols as the only Cardinals to hit multiple homers on Opening Day. After Wong hit a two-run homer in the top of the second inning, center fielder Harrison Bader followed with a solo shot. With that, Wong and Bader are the only Cardinals to ever hit back-to-back long balls in the first game of the season.
Wong and Bader were also the only Cardinals to get much of anything going on Thursday. Outside of the pair’s two hits apiece, left fielder Marcell Ozuna recorded St. Louis’s only base hit, and right fielder Dexter Fowler (he reached on a walk) scored on one of Wong’s home runs.
Milwaukee had some home run magic of their own. Third baseman Mike Moustakas, who returned to the team on a one-year deal back in February, went deep in the bottom of the second off Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas. Mikolas later surrendered a two-run shot to reigning National League Most Valuable Player Christian Yelich and a solo homer to his mound opponent, Jhoulys Chacin.
Mikolas worked five innings on Thursday afternoon with five earned runs allowed in his outing. Mikolas issued one walk and allowed three home runs; in 200 2⁄3 innings in 2018, Mikolas allowed a total of 16 long balls. Dominic Leone, John Brebbia, and John Gant followed Mikolas out of the bullpen with three scoreless innings to keep the game close.
After Chacin pitched into the sixth inning, Junior Guerra worked through the seventh before Josh Hader took over. Hader blew by the Cardinals in the eighth and ninth innings, fanning four batters and retiring all six he faced. With two outs in the top of the ninth inning, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt opted to pinch-hit for the left-handed-hitting Wong in favor of the right-handed Jose Martinez, who entered the day 2-for-3 lifetime against Hader with a home run. Left-handed hitters managed a minuscule .090 batting average against Hader last season.
On a 1-0 count, Martinez hit a ball to deep right-center field, leading many to believe it was the seventh home run of the day. The thought quickly faded as Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain had a great beat on the ball off the bat and was able to time his leap and pull the ball back over the wall. Cain’s star-worthy catch ended the game and preserved the Brewers’ Opening Day win.
These two teams will be back in action on Friday. Freddy Peralta will go for the Brewers against Jack Flaherty and the Cardinals at 7:10 PM Central time.