Last strikes: Cardinals 6, Brewers 0

MILWAUKEE – Fourteen last strikes for the 14 total hits in Milwaukee’s 6-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.

1. Things didn’t get off to a good start for the Milwaukee Brewers for the second night in a row. Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler laced Jhoulys Chacin’s second pitch of the game into the left-center gap for a leadoff double. Chacin then attempted to pick off Fowler at second and the ball got past Milwaukee second baseman Jonathan Villar into centerfield. Villar was charged with an error on the play as Fowler moved up to third. A few pitches later Tommy Pham hit an RBI-groundout to third base and St. Louis took a 1-0 lead.

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2. On the bright side for Milwaukee fans, the Cardinals didn’t open the game with back-to-back home runs as they did on Tuesday night.

3. Just because that was the case didn’t mean things weren’t difficult for Chacin against the top of the Cardinals order. In the third inning Fowler led off with a walk, Pham hit a ground rule double, and both eventually scored to make it 3-0. Fowler scored on a ground out for the second time, and Pham was able to cross the plate on a Marcell Ozuna RBI-single.

4. That didn’t mean that the bottom of the order didn’t do damage as well. Catcher Yadier Molina hit his third home run of the season off Chacin in the fourth inning. He later drove in another run on a sacrifice fly to left field in the sixth inning.

5. The sacrifice fly was potentially the best defensive play of the game. Leftfielder Christian Yelich tracked the ball into foul territory before making a sliding catch up against the wall. It was a really impressive play, even though a run scored on the play. Yelich later left the game in what was described by manager Craig Counsell as “oblique stiffness.” Counsell also said it’s likely Yelich is held out of the lineup on Thursday against Chicago lefty Jon Lester.

6. The same could not be said about the rest of the sixth inning, however. Villar made his second error of the game. St. Louis second baseman Kolten Wong reached base on an infield single that deflected off the glove of Milwaukee first baseman Eric Thames right to Villar. There was no play at first, however Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong attempted to each third base on the play.

7. Villar had the opportunity to try and throw DeJong out, but the bail got past third baseman Travis Shaw. That allowed DeJong to score and Wong to move up to second base.

8. That display was also the end of the night for Chacin. He finished with a final line of 5.2 innings pitched, seven hits, six runs (three earned), a pair of walks, and the home run to Molina allowed.

9. “Thought [Chacin] pitched much better tonight than he did in San Diego,” Counsell said of Chacin’s performance. “I thought his breaking ball was very effective tonight. I thought the first inning we gave him a run and I thought we were a little sloppy in the sixth inning and gave up a couple runs. I was encouraged by this outing. He needs his breaking ball and his breaking ball was sharp tonight.”

10. “I felt that I was throwing more strikes today,” Chacin said. “I was trying to keep the ball down. There was a couple pitches, the one for the homer for Molina, I felt I put it where I wanted but he put a good swing on it. I’m disappointed in my first two starts this year, but I won’t put my head down. I’m going to keep working on all my pitches.”

11. Milwaukee’s first scoring opportunity came in the bottom of the second as Domingo Santana and Villar reached base on consecutive pitches. Santana was hit by a Carlos Martinez slider to start things off and Villar followed with a single to centerfield. Santana later reached third on a Manny Piña sacrifice fly to medium-deep center but was unable to advance any further. Both men were stranded due to Eric Sogard and Chacin both going down on strikes to close the inning.

12. The next scoring chance for the Crew didn’t come until the bottom of the seventh inning. Martinez was lights out for the Cardinals, finishing with a final line of 8.1 innings pitched, four hits, two walks, and 10 strike outs. Martinez didn’t allow a base running from the second inning until the seventh when Santana knocked a single into left field. Piña also reached base with a two-out walk, but the Brewers were unable to do anything else as Sogard lined out to center to end the threat.

13. The Brewers tried to make things interesting in the ninth inning, but the 6-0 St. Louis lead was too much to overcome. Milwaukee loaded the bases with one out in the inning. Piña then knocked a weakly hit bouncer back to the mound, resulting in a 1-2-3 double play to finish the game.

14. The loss drops the Brewers to 4-2 on the young season. Milwaukee welcomes the Chicago Cubs to Miller Park on Thursday evening for the first game of a four-game series.

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