Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Game of the Day (5/27/14)

Brewers 7, Orioles 6 (10). That pair of teams and score seems familiar somehow... This time, the game began with Wei-Yin Chen of Baltimore facing Matt Garza of Milwaukee.

Garza was perfect in the first and second innings, and the Brewers staked him to a healthy early lead. Jean Segura and Ryan Braun's first-inning singles preceded a three-run homer by Carlos Gomez, and Mark Reynolds added a solo shot leading off the second. Garza allowed his first hit to Jonathan Schoop in the third, but left him at first, and after Braun's leadoff double in the third was wasted, Khris Davis homered in the fourth for a 5-0 lead.

Baltimore began to climb back when Nelson Cruz homered to open the fifth, and continued the process when they posted the game's first non-longball assisted runs in the sixth: Pinch hitter Delmon Young drew a walk, Nick Markakis doubled him around, and a bunt and a flyout brought Markakis in to pull within 5-3. Preston Guilmet worked around an error in the bottom of the sixth.

Cruz drew a leadoff walk in the top of the seventh, and one out later, Nick Hundley reached on a Segura error. Schoop grounded out to advance the runners to second and third, putting the tying run in scoring position, and pinch hitter Steven Pearce followed with a go-ahead 3-run homer. Markakis singled to chase Garza, and Wil Smith ended the inning without further damage, not that there hadn't been plenty already.

Ryan Webb allowed a Segura bunt single in the seventh, then coaxed a double play from Braun. Cruz doubled and moved to third on a wild pitch before being stranded in the top of the eighth. Facing Darren O'Day, Jonathan Lucroy led off the home eighth with a double. One out later, Scooter Gennett was intentionally walked, and Davis then drew a base on balls to load the bases and move the tying run to third. Reynolds lined out, and Logan Schafer was summoned as a pinch hitter; the Orioles countered with Brian Matusz, and the Brewers in turn sent Irving Falu to the plate. Falu grounded out to leave the bases loaded and Baltimore in the lead.

Tyler Thornburg worked around a Hundley single for a scoreless ninth. Zach Britton relieved in the bottom of the inning, hoping for the save. Lyle Overbay led off with a single, and was pulled for pinch runner Elian Herrera. Segura bunted the runner to second, and Braun's groundout moved him to third; Lucroy followed with a bouncer up the third base line and beat the throw for a game-tying infield hit.

Francisco Rodriguez took the mound in the tenth and recorded a quick pair of outs. The next hitter was noted slugger Chris Davis, and with noted non-slugger David Lough on deck, the Brewers elected to intentionally walk Davis with the bases empty. Lough failed to make them pay for the decision, grounding out to leave the game tied.

TJ McFarland assumed pitching duties in the bottom of the tenth, and his inning went nearly identically. Two quick outs brought the hard-swinging Mark Reynolds to the dish, and with the pitcher's spot on deck and the Brewers having exhausted their supply of position players, Reynolds drew four wide ones and trotted to first.

Milwaukee was left with no real option but to use a starting pitcher as a pinch hitter. Fortunately, they are possessed of one of the best-hitting pitchers in baseball at the moment, Yovani Gallardo, who has a career average just north of .200 and 12 career homers.

Gallardo didn't homer - but he didn't need to. Instead, he hit a fly ball to deep left center that one-hopped the wall for a double, scoring Reynolds from first with the winning run.

In case you're curious, Mark Reynolds has homered in 5.2% of his career plate appearances; Gallardo has extra-base hits in 7.5% of his trips to the plate. It might have made sense to intentionally walk Reynolds with the bases empty in front of some pitchers, but Gallardo does not appear to be one of them.

But that's not the point, or at least not entirely. A pinch-hitting pitcher had a walkoff double! The fact that said double severely punished an intentional walk is merely the tasty icing on a cake composed of pure baseball bliss.

No comments:

Post a Comment