ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Twenty-seven last strikes for the 27 outs recorded by Milwaukee’s bullpen in Monday night’s 6-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
1. They say that each trip to the baseball park could bring something that you’ve never seen before. Monday night at Busch Stadium in St. Louis was just that for some people.
2. Dan Jennings – one of Milwaukee’s regular relief pitchers – toed the rubber at approximately 7:25 p.m. CT Monday night to start the bottom half of the first inning. He threw three pitches, a slider, a two-seam fastball, and another slider before being greeted on the mound by manager Craig Counsell.
3. Jennings induced a groundball to second baseman Travis Shaw for the first out of the game off of the bat of Matt Carpenter before hitting the showers. His work for the day was done.
4. This wasn’t a freak injury, or an ejection, though. This was done by design. In fact, Freddy Peralta was in the bullpen warming up at the same time as Jennings during the first inning. Peralta replaced Jennings after just one hitter.
5. “Somebody asked me if I was going to five tonight before the game and I said, “five pitches or five innings?’” Jennings said. “No, we kind of knew what the deal was. Props to everybody that came in behind me and the position players for getting it done. That’s a grind right there, that’s an absolute grind and it was fun to watch.”
6. It was the first time Jennings had started a game since 2008 when he was in short-season A-ball.
7. That wasn’t where the bizarre events stopped, either.
8. It rained on and off throughout the middle innings, but seemed to pick up each time the Cardinals were at the plate, Josh Hader struggled on the mound, and then the tarp was pulled on, then off, then on again, and then finally off for good in a span of roughly 14 minutes.
9. “It was wet; it was raining,” Hader said after his outing in which he allowed three runs on three hits in an inning. “Obviously, it’s not the easiest thing. But I made a mistake, threw two fastballs down the middle. You saw what happened.”
10. It didn’t stop there, either.
11. In the sixth inning the Brewers were able to load the bases on a walk, hit by pitch, and another walk. Ryan Braun stepped to the plate and drew a four-pitch walk to force a run in for the Crew giving them a 2-1 lead.
12. Mike Moustakas strolled up next and hit a shallow fly ball to St. Louis outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna caught the fly ball and fired home as Jesús Aguilar tagged up from third base to try and score.
13. First of all, it was a great send by Eddy. It was a very nice, aggressive play by Eddy,” Counsell said.
14. Obviously, Aguilar isn’t exactly the person who pops into someone’s mind when ‘fleet of foot’ is whispered aloud, or at least that’s what Shaw thought.
15. Shaw was on second base when Moustakas was at the plate and executed some smart base running. He tagged up from second to third on a ball that he would normally have no chance of reaching third on. What he was able to do, though, was get in the vision of Cardinals third baseman Jedd Gyorko.
16. Gyorko cut the throw off and chased Shaw, who immediately stopped in his tracks in the baseline. Shaw was tagged out, but not before Aguilar had crossed home plate.
17. “Yeah, with Aggy on third I wanted to do that,” Shaw said. “It wasn’t a very deep fly ball. If it was a deep fly ball it would be a different story.
18. “As soon as it gets cut and Aggy scores I just slammed on the brakes.”
19. “I don’t think the throw gets to the plate,” Counsell said. “The question, to me, is could it have been cut and thrown home. Travis did really nice baserunning to put himself in the vision of Gyorko. It was a good play all around. Good play by Eddy. Good play by Travis.”
20. In the eighth inning the Brewers sent Eric Thames to the plate to pinch-hit for reliever Corbin Burnes. He laced a one-out triple under the glove of José Martínez in right field. Moustakas was intentionally walked following that to bring Erik Kratz to the plate.
21. Moustakas, entering the game with a grand total of 15 stolen bases in his eight-year career, drew a pick-off attempt from Bud Norris. That throw hit Moustakas and bounced away far enough to score Thames from third base and give the Brewers a 5-4 lead.
22. The Brewers were able to add an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning as Christin Yelich doubled home Lorenzo Cain to make it a 6-4 Milwaukee lead. When the bottom half of the inning came, Corey Knebel – not Jeremy Jeffress – walked out of the left field bullpen at Busch Stadium.
23. In fact, Jeffress wasn’t even in the bullpen.
24. “JJ was unavailable tonight,” Counsell said. “He’s experiencing some neck spams that made it unable for him to pitch. He wasn’t in the bullpen all day.”
25. The ninth inning was no problem for Knebel as he struck out three of the four batters he faced, with the lone base runner reaching via a hit-by-pitch.
26. All in all, the plan of a bullpen game – which really was just a Freddy Peralta start in which he didn’t face the first batter – worked out for the Brewers. This was a huge win for a club attempting to make the postseason for the first time since 2011. Now, they’re one step closer, even if this was the required avenue to get there.
27. So, yeah, anytime you come to the ballpark you may see something that rarely happens. In the next few days that might include the Brewers punching a postseason ticket.