This was one of those familiar roller coaster type games where you think you have no chance, then you think you've got it won, then the rug gets pulled out from under you at the end. It was another interesting pitching matchup, as Wacha made his first major league start since June 20, 2018. Meanwhile Corbin Burnes, who pitched 30 regular season games in relief for the Brewers last year, was set for his first career start. He had only pitched 3 IP against the Cards last year across 3 different appearances in August and September.
Yelich continued his magic when he tomahawked a high fastball above the zone deep into the right field seats for a solo HR with 1 out to put the Brewers on top 1-0 in the bottom of the 1st. For the Cards through 3 innings all 9 outs were recorded by the strikeout. Carpenter doubled in the 1st and walked in the 3rd, but other than Wong’s single described next, that was it for baserunners. We had a chance to score a run in the 2nd inning when Wong lined a single to left with 2 out, stole second then advanced to 3rd when the Brewers’ backup catcher Manny Pina threw the ball into center field for a throwing error. But Bader couldn’t handle Burnes’s sliders, swinging at ball 1 on the first pitch, ball 4 on the 3-1 pitch then striking out looking on a 3-2 slider.
After Cain doubled in the 3rd with 1 out, Shildt had enough of Yelich and decided to intentionally walk him. The move paid off when Wacha struck out Braun swinging on a changeup and Shaw looking on a changeup. Ozuna led off the 4th with a dribbling infield hit to 3rd that Shaw tried to charge and barehand, but couldn’t come up with it. An above average 3rd baseman might have made the play. DeJong finally got the Cards off the schneid in the top of the 4th with a bomb to left for a 2-run HR on an up-and-in fastball to give the Cards a 2-1 lead. Wacha got himself into and out of a jam in the 4th when Aguilar grounded an infield single deep in the hole at short and Moustakas walked. But Wacha escaped when he struck out Pina on a filthy changeup, got Pina to softly line to left and actually got the pitcher out on a grounder to short!
It was nice to see the Cards capitalize on Brewer pitcher mistakes when Carpenter got us an insurance run in the 5th to lead off the inning. He torched a Burnes low-middle fastball out to center for a solo shot to extend our lead to 3-1. Goldschmidt made it back-to-back on an even meatier center-cut fastball for a 445 foot bomb to left-center for another solo HR and a 4-1 Cards lead. Ozuna might have taken matters into his own hands to knock Burnes out of the game with a liner right off his chest that ended up as a groundout. Burnes might have been pulled anyway after 5 innings, 3 HRs allowed and 87 pitches, but he, along with his 12 Ks to 1 BB in just 5 IP were out of the game. Wacha became the first Cards starter this season to pitch into the 6th inning and finished the Brewers off in that inning.
Reyes got the first 2 outs of the 7th for us, and you can see in his pitches all the promise that people talk about with a 96-99 mph sinking fastball, nasty slider and a 90 mph changeup. He couldn’t get his changeup over today, but if he shows that he can, he’ll be something to behold out of the pen. Shildt pulled Reyes with a runner on 1st (Reyes walked Pina to start the inning) and 2 out and brought Miller in to pitch to Yelich. This got us into a bit of a jam, as Miller walked Yelich on 4 straight pitches. This defeated the purpose because we could have just intentionally walked Yelich again and have Reyes pitch to Braun. With Miller still in there, Braun sharply grounded a ball through the hole to left, score Pina, move Yelich to 2nd and cut the Cards lead to 4-2. Miller did get squeezed a bit on the strike zone. Next came a bizarre play. The Cards’ defense lined up in a shift for Shaw with Carpenter basically lined up at shortstop and the only fielder on that side of the 2nd base bag. Shaw popped one up into the outfield grass in left field. Ozuna didn’t run hard towards it, Carpenter got turned around and misjudged it, and the ball dropped between them for a base hit. Yelich scored, Braun went all the way to 3rd, and our lead was cut to 4-3. Aguilar hit some hard fouls off of Miller, but Miller elevated a 95 mph fastball and got Aguilar swinging on a 1-2 pitch to keep our lead.
The Brewers bullpen, courtesy of Albers for 2 and Williams for 1 shut us out from the 6th through the 8th innings. Shildt left Miller out there to start the 8th, and Moustakas gave us a scare by lining one deep to left-center but it was caught right before the track. Perez grounded to short on the first pitch, then Shildt made his first double switch of the season, replacing J. Martinez with Fowler in right and bringing in Hicks. Hicks, featuring his new 90 mph changeup quickly retired Grandal, pinch-hitting for Pena on a grounder to end the 8th.
We got a scare in the 9th when Wong, after getting his 2nd hit of the day—this one of the infield variety off pitcher Barnes’s glove with 2 outs—stole second base. Grandal’s throw to second hit Wong in the back of the neck, just below the helmet and right by his left ear. Wong looked hurt and play was stopped for a couple of minutes, but he stayed in the game. Fowler, batting in the 9th slot, couldn’t bring Wong home.
Hicks got into deep trouble in the 9th. Gamel pinch hit for the pitcher burns lined an 0-2 center cut 99 mph fastball that one-hopped the left field fence in the corner for a double. On the first pitch, Cain sharply grounded a ball that went off of Hicks’s outstretched glove to Wong at 2nd for an infield hit to move Gamel to 3rd. If Hicks would have let it go, it most likely would have gone straight to Wong at 2nd for the out, but that’s a reflex play that’s hard to judge in a split second. That left Yelich at the plate. Hicks looked like he was pitching around him and got behind in the count 2-0. Then he threw a fastball right down the middle, which Yelich lined into the left-center field gap. Bader tried to dive to his left to stop it from going all the way to the wall, but it bounced off his glove to Ozuna. Ozuna didn’t have much on the throw, but the speedy Cain was racing around the bases from 1st the entire time, and I don’t think a perfect strike would have had him. Yelich’s 2-run walkoff double gave the Brewers a 3-1 series victory and handed Hicks his first blown save of the year.
Odds and Ends: Drew Robinson made a pinch-hitting appearance, leaving Wieters the only member of the 25-man roster yet to be used. We should start a raffle with prizes to guess when he finally makes an appearance. Wacha's changeup and curveball looked sharp, and it was refreshing to see a starter go longer than 5. Tale of the tape for Yelich: in the 4 game series, he was 6 for 12, 8 RBIs, 6 BB, 1 SO, 4 HR. I think we've had enough of him for a while.