Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Game of the Day (4/29/14)

Brewers 5, Cardinals 4 (11). The second verse may not be exactly the same as the first, but it does have some distinct similarities. This time, it's Kyle Lohse starting for Milwaukee against Lance Lynn of St. Louis.

Lynn retired the Brewers in order in the first; Lohse had rather more difficulty with the Cards, as Allen Craig drew a one-out walk, Matt Adams hit a two-out double, and Yadier Molina followed with a three-run homer to open the scoring. (Molina was Lohse's catcher for five years; I'd be curious to see a study on whether that sort of thing consistently gives a hitter the advantage. Of course, he's also an excellent hitter, which may have been advantage enough.)

Lynn worked around a Mark Reynolds double in the second, and Lohse did the same with a Randal Grichuk single. Martin Maldonado and Adams singled in the top and bottom of the third, respectively, and were both stranded.

Milwaukee struck in the fourth, starting with a single by Scooter Gennett. Gennett moved to second on a wild pitch and took third on a groundout, then scored on Lyle Overbay's single to get the Brewers on the board. The team wasn't done yet, as Reynolds walked, and Jeff Bianchi hit into a force to put runners at the corners. Maldonado walked as well, loading the bases with two outs and bringing Lohse to the plate - and the starting pitcher delivered a game-tying two-run single. A wild pitch moved the remaining runners to second and third before Carlos Gomez struck out to leave them there.

Lohse was spotless in the fourth, as was Lynn in the fifth. Greg Garcia pinch hit for Lynn to lead off the bottom of the inning, and Lohse hit him with a pitch, then stranded him at first. Tyler Lyons entered with a flawless sixth, while Lohse had to work around singles by Molina and Jhonny Peralta, but did so by striking out the other three Cardinals he faced.

With two out in the seventh, Lyons served up a tiebreaking homer to Gomez. The Brewers quickly replaced Lohse with Will Smith, who had not yet allowed a run in 2014; he walked pinch hitter Peter Bourjos, coaxed a Matt Carpenter forceout, and then served up an RBI triple to Craig to tie the game. After an intentional walk to Matt Holliday, Smith recovered to strike out Adams and Molina, thereby stranding the go-ahead run at third. But the damage was already done.

Pat Neshek worked a 1-2-3 eighth, while Jim Henderson also faced the minimum thanks to a double play. Neshek was also spotless in the ninth, as was Milwaukee's Tyler Thornburg. Kevin Siegrist replaced Neshek in the tenth and duplicated his results admirably, while Thornburg worked around a lone walk in the bottom of the inning.

Khris Davis became the first Brewer to reach since the seventh inning when he led off the eleventh with a double. Overbay promptly singled, scoring Davis with the go-ahead run. Siegrist managed to get the next three hitters without incident, but Francisco Rodriguez secured the save by circumventing a Daniel Descalso pinch single in the bottom of the inning.

The thing that jumps out at me in this game is St. Louis's decidedly old-school bullpen usage - they pitched three relievers for exactly two innings each, pulling them only for pinch hitters. The Brewers didn't quite manage that, but they did use their relievers only for complete-inning stints, meaning that the game involved nine total pitchers and yet featured no mid-inning pitching changes. It seems like that should be worth bonus points for what was already a pretty terrific game.

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