Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Game of the Day (9/9/14)

Marlins 6, Brewers 3. Miami's Tom Koehler came into 2014 with a vastly lower profile (and paycheck) than Milwaukee's Matt Garza - but so far this season, he's thrown more innings with a lower ERA.

Garza worked around a Donovan Solano single in the top of the first; Carlos Gomez led off the bottom of the inning with a bunt single, was sacrificed to second, took third on a fly ball, and was stranded there. Marcell Ozuna and Adeiny Hechevarria both singled in the top of the second and were left on, and Jean Segura drew a two-out walk and made no further progress in the bottom of the inning.

Miami took the game's first lead in the top of the third when Christian Yelich singled, stole second, and scored on a hit by Solano. Giancarlo Stanton then hit into a double play, but Casey McGehee walked, moved to second on a Garza error, and came home on an Ozuna single for a 2-0 lead. Milwaukee replied in the bottom of the inning, with singles by Scooter Gennett and Jonathan Lucroy, an RBI double from Aramis Ramirez, and a run-scoring Gerardo Parra groundout to tie the game.

Garza struck out the side in the fourth, while Koehler allowed a single-and-steal to Segura, then walked pinch hitter Mark Reynolds before stranding both runners. Jeremy Jeffress relieved Garza in the fifth and set the Marlins down in order; Parra singled with two outs in the bottom of the inning, but was caught stealing. The Marlins then pulled ahead again in the top of the sixth when Ozuna walked and Garrett Jones doubled him home.

Chris Hatcher replaced Koehler in the bottom of the sixth and allowed only a Segura single. Yelich led off the top of the seventh with a single against Will Smith; Brandon Kintzler relieved one out later and struck out Stanton, but then gave up a McGehee single and walked Ozuna to load the bases. Zach Duke took over for Kintzler and struck out pinch hitter (and certified lefty killer) Jeff Baker to strand all 3 runners, and the Brewers tied it in the bottom of the inning by way of a Gennett double and a Ramirez single.

Jonathan Broxton was perfect in the top of the eighth; Bryan Morris was anything but in the bottom, allowing a Khris Davis leadoff single, walking Lyle Overbay, and committing an error on a Segura bunt to load the bases with nobody out. But pinch hitter Rickie Weeks and Gomez both hit into 5-2 forceouts, and Gennett flied to right to leave all three runners on and keep the game tied.

Having slithered free of the biggest possible jam, the Marlins struck against Francisco Rodriguez in the top of the ninth. Stanton drew a two-out walk and stole second, and McGehee followed with a go-ahead two-run homer. Ozuna tacked on a homer of his own, making it a 6-3 game, and Steve Cishek allowed a Ramirez single and walked Ryan Braun in the bottom of the ninth, but left both men on to end the game.

The swing from bases loaded, nobody out in the bottom of the eighth of a tie game to 5-3 lead in the top of the ninth took seven batters, so it's far from the fastest extreme WPA shift you'll see. But the rapid drop in win expectancy from 87% to 8% was still a sudden and depressing turn of events for a Milwaukee team that's officially in near-desperation mode. The loss drops them 1.5 games back of the second wild card, and they now trail the Braves as well as the Pirates.

Even if the Brewers do end up missing the playoffs by a one-game margin, this may not quite be the sort of defeat that is handed down to future generations of Milwaukee residents. But it at least holds the potential to be a game that's heartily bemoaned at the end of the year. Which, of course, is another way of saying that it would have been highly exciting to watch as it occurred.

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