The St. Louis Cardinals fell to the Milwaukee Brewers 5-4 on Sunday afternoon, dropping the opening series with their NL Central rival, three games to one. The game spoiled the first regular season appearance for Michael Wacha since an oblique injury on June 20th effectively ended his 2018 season.
Christian Yelich gave Wacha a rude welcome back to the regular season with a 408-foot home run in the opening frame, staking Brewers starting pitcher Corbin Burnes to a 1-0 lead. With the homerun, Yelich became just the sixth player in MLB history to homer in each of his team’s first four games. Burnes looked dominant early on, striking out nine Cardinals through the first three innings- all right-handed hitters. After the Yelich blast, Wacha settled in and held the Brewers scoreless through the next 5.2 innings.
In the top of the fourth, the Cardinals solved Burnes. Marcell Ozuna led off with an infield single, which prefaced Paul DeJong’s two-run homerun to leftfield. It gave the Birds a 2-1 edge. In the fifth inning, Matt Carpenter and Paul Goldschmidt gave the Associated Bank Check Deck in centerfield a lot of free advertising by crushing back-to-back solo bombs there to push the lead to 4-1. It was Carpenter’s first home run of the season, and Goldschmidt’s fourth. The trio of homeruns prompted some guy pounding a Spotted Cow in a supper club in Oconomowoc to proclaim “Uff da! They’re whompin’ tha lutefisk outta these pitches!” before resuming his fantasy football plans for 2019.
BACK TO BACK JACKS— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) March 31, 2019
The Carp and Goldy edition. pic.twitter.com/nBMJ9ad8Cb
Wacha came out of the game after six innings. In his 2019 debut, he went 6 innings, yielding one run, four hits, walking four and striking out seven. He gave way to Alex Reyes, who walked Manny Piña, struck out Eric Thames, and induced Lorenzo Cain to fly out before Andrew Miller was summoned to face Yelich.
At that point, all hell broke loose. Yelich walked and Ryan Braun dropped in an RBI single to close the gap to 4-2. With two outs, Miller got Travis Shaw to pop up to shallow left field for what should have been the final out of the inning. However, with the shift on, the weak contact managed to find a hole between Carpenter and Ozuna, enabling the Brewers to pull within 4-3. Miller struck out Jesus Aguilar to end the madness, bringing on the 8th inning with a one-run contest.
The teams exchanged zeroes in the 8th, with Miller retiring two hitters in order and Jordan Hicks closing out the bottom half of the inning. With Hicks still pitching, Ben Gamel led off the bottom of the 9th with a just-barely-fair double in the left field corner. Lorenzo Cain followed with an infield single, setting the stage for Yelich. This time, the 2018 NL MVP drove a double to left field, scoring both Gamel and Cain to give the Brewers a walk-off victory.
The Stag Ice Players of the Game are Matt Carpenter (2-for-3, double, home run), Paul Goldschmidt (1-for-4, home run), Paul DeJong (1-for-4, home run, two RBI), and Wacha. Kolten Wong continued his hot start to the season, going 2-for-4 with a pair of stolen bases. He pushed his early season batting average to .571 and OPS to 1.671. At this rate, he’ll shatter Barry Bonds’ record OPS of 1.422 in 2004.