You don’t win a division in April, but you can show everyone that your squad is a legitimate playoff contender when the circumstances are right. The Milwaukee Brewers again found a way to pull out a game they had no business winning, and there were a number of fun stats to see afterward to make one think, “Yeah, this team is for real.”
Let’s start with the fact that the Brewers entered the game with a 12-25 mark in their last 37 contests with the St. Louis Cardinals. Add in the absence of Ryan Braun and Jean Segura from the start, as well Aramis Ramirez in the seventh, and things looked bleak as they trailed 3-0. Yet, everything seemed slightly different that night, even early in the game.
Yovani Gallardo, with a career 1-11 record and 6.46 ERA against the Cardinals, turned in a quality start by allowing three earned runs in six frames. The Brewers’ 5-3 victory was only the fourth win for the club in 18 of Gallardo’s starts versus the Red Birds. The fun facts kept coming when the dust had settled.
If you want to know how fantastic the pitching has been overall, Milwaukee’s win pushed their record to a perfect 18-0 when the offense scores three runs. Monday marked the sixth time the Brewers tallied exactly five runs, their most common output.
Speaking of the pitching, the Crew’s relief corps continues to slam the door. The bullpen tacked on six scoreless frames, a trend that’s becoming pure habit. That included two innings from lefty Zach Duke where he battled through mostly right-handers to keep the Cards off the board while earning his second win.
And while the pen tossed five of those innings in a tie game, closer Francisco Rodriguez remained perfect on the season, earning his MLB-best 12th save in as many tries while holding his ERA steady at exactly zero. His 12th-inning goose egg extended the bullpen’s scoreless streak to 27.2 frames when pitching with a lead. The relievers have delivered gusty and dominant performances across the board (minus Wei-Chung Wang).
Overall, the staff on Monday night struck out 11 Cardinals batters, though they earned only 13 swinging strikes in 212 pitches. Instead, the Crew’s hurlers racked up 42 called strikes, baffling hitters in key spots in the game.
As for the offense, it was there when they needed it. Lyle Overbay knocked in the Brewers’ first run with an RBI single, making him 3-for-5 as a pinch-hitter this season. Later in the seventh, Ramirez earned the game-tying RBI with a bases loaded hit-by-pitch. It was the second time he was plunked in the contest — the first time in his career he had a pair of HBPs in a single game.
Meanwhile, in the first 11 innings on Monday night, Jonathan Lucroy, Khris Davis and Mark Reynolds combined to go 1-for-15 with eight strikeouts. They’re bats woke up in the 12th. The trio put together the game-winning rally by going 2-for-2 with a double, a triple, two RBIs and two runs scored. Talk about turning your night around in a hurry.
It’s the type of win that players and fans look back on in September and acknowledge, “That’s when we knew something special could be going on.” Even Mike Vassallo, Senior Director of Media Relations, said Monday’s win over St. Louis ranked as one of the best in his nine years with the club.
Baseball is built on the unexpected and strange occurrences that happen from day-to-day. Yet, sometimes those same, odd events seem to forecast a uniquely successful endeavor.