It started out as mystery small sample size theater. Hudson had pitched only 3.1 IP in relief against the Brewers across 3 appearances last year, and was making his first start tonight. Woodruff, meanwhile, had pitched 2.1 IP against us over 2 appearances last season, and only Goldschmidt and Ozuna with their former teams had ever faced him more than once. In the end, the Brewers were able to sit on Hudson's sinker away and hit enough bombs to win the game.
After striking out Cain on a nasty 3-2 sinker to start the game, Yelich lined a low sinker the opposite way well over the left-center field wall for a solo HR to give the Brewers a 1-0 lead in the first. Hudson gave up 3 hits that first inning, but was able to escape further damage with a good play by Goldschmidt at first to nail a lead runner and a strikeout of Thames to end the inning with runners on 1st and 2nd.
The Cards tied the game with some small ball and a little help in the 3rd. Wong hit an inside slider for a broken bat bloop single to center. Woodruff balked by throwing to 1st with Thames playing in and not covering the bag. Hudson laid down a nice bunt to sacrifice Wong to 3rd. After Carpenter struck out, Goldschmidt came through by lining a low slider for a base hit through the hole to left to score Wong and tie the game 1-1.
The Brewers took the lead in the 4th when, with 1 out, Shaw skied a Hudson sinker to deep centerfield off he scoreboard to give the Brewers a 2-1 lead. Grandal then hit a nibbling grounder toward the right side of the infield right into the shift. Wong charged and threw a quick side-armed toss to Goldschmidt, who must have been surprised at the speed of the throw because he just dropped it for a missed-catch error. Moustakas made us pay when he smoked a Hudson sinker over the left-center field boards for a 2-run HR to give the Brewers a 4-1 lead.
The Cards scored 1 run in the 4th but arguably squandered a chance to score more. Ozuna led off the inning by sharply grounding a ball through the right side to center field. Yadi flied out to the track in deep center for the 2nd time, and Ozuna alertly tagged and went to 2nd. After he stole 3rd, Fowler worked Woodruff for an 8-pitch walk after coming dangerously close to striking out on the previous 3-2 pitch, staying alive by barely getting a piece. Wong then grounded a low and away fastball down the 3rd base line for a double just by Shaw’s glove at 3rd. Ozuna scored to cut the lead to 4-2. Shildt must not have believed we had enough long relief available, because he sent Hudson up to the plate with runners on 2nd and 3rd and 2 out, despite actually having Jose Martinez up in the on-deck circle. In Shildt’s defense, Gant, our purported long man, has already been used in back-to-back games and the bullpen would have had 6 innings to pitch. And Hudson hadn’t even thrown 70 pitches to that point. In any case, Hudson lazily grounded out to end the scoring.
The Brewers had a chance to nail us for a big inning in the 5th. Shaw led off with a walk, and Moustakas also walked with 1 out. But after 88 pitches, Shildt brought in Mayers for his first relief appearance of the season. He promptly threw a wild pitch on a curveball in the dirt that allowed the runners to move to 2nd and 3rd, but struck Thames out looking on a fastball down the middle after feeding him several sliders in the dirt. Gamel was intentionally walked to load the bases to face the righty Arcia, and we breathed a sigh of relief when he lined a slider right at DeJong at short to end the inning with no scoring.
The game was now completely turned over to the bullpens to start the top of the 6th, as Woodruff was done with 100 pitches. For the Cards, Mayers allowed just 1 hit off the end of the bat to Cain and 1 intentional walk. Leone pitched the 7th and 8th for us, walked 2 guys in his 2nd inning of work, but managed to get out of the jam when he got Yelich to pop up. For the Brewers, Claudio just allowed a bunt single to Wong in his .2 IP of work, and Wilson shut us down in 1.1 IP with 2 SO. Hader made us look silly again by striking out the side in 9 pitches to earn his 2nd save of the year. O’Neill managed a foul tip on his first pitch, but otherwise it was all fastballs, all swings and misses. Hader so far has thrown us 30 pitches, all fastballs with Cafecito’s shot to center the only ball put in play.
Odds and Ends: All of our relievers have now made appearances, but Wieters and Robinson have yet to be used off the bench...Hader has no reason to throw us his slider....We can talk about Shildt and his not pinch-hitting for the pitcher early in the game 2 games in a row. True, decisions are good or bad when made, not based on how they turn out. But in the case of Flaherty yesterday, his explanation was simply "Trust." You can debate it, but something simple like that can create momentum for Flaherty that lasts the rest of the year. Today, a gambling man might have pinch hit for Hudson down 2 with runners on 2nd and 3rd, but you can easily understand, in looking at the long haul, why Shildt didn't want his bullpen to throw 6 innings tonight.