As the 8th inning brought to you by ManFridge came to an end...
The game entered the ninth, the score was tied 6 - 6. Ron Roenicke had made a couple of defensive changes, moving Yuniesky Betancourt to first base from third, and after pinch-running, Jeff Bianchi stayed in the game, and filled the vacancy left at third base. Brewers closer, Jim Henderson came into the (tied home) game to pitch the redbirds in the their half of the 9th inning. Due up were: Shane Robinson, Jon Jay, and Pete Kozma.
Shane Robinson led off the inning by hammering the first pitch he saw into left-center field for a single. Centerfielder Carlos Gomez kicked the ball, allowing Robinson to advance to second base to start the Cardinals 9th. In a tied game on the road, with nobody out and a fast runner at second, I'm ok with a sac bunt here to move Robinson to third. Especially given the defensive changes at the corners the Brewers had just made. Bianchi and Betancourt had been seen exactly one pitch at their "new" positions so far this game, and neither were involved in the play that sent Robinson to second. Good enough reason for me, given the situation, to test them.
Everybody in Miller Park was thinking the same thing, and expected the bunt. The Milwaukee infield came in as Jay squared around, and then quickly pulled back to take ball one. After bunting the second pitch foul, Jay took a strike high & outside, which would've been a decent pitchout. Coincidentally, Shane Robinson got a good jump on Henderson, and stole third on the pitch without so much as a throw from Maldonado. With a 1-2 count, Jay would now be swinging away. The infield was drawn in to try and cut down a run at the plate, and keep the game tied. Jay fouled off a couple pitches, and took another ball, before lining a 2-2 pitch back up the middle, scoring Robinson. RBI, Jon Jay -- his fourth of the afternoon (career high). Jay has needed to get something going offensively lately, and this was great to see happen today. But 90% of that run was Shane Robinson. Teamwork at its finest. 7 - 6 good guys, nobody out.
Shane Robinson swipes third without a throw, even though this was wouldn't have been a bad pitchout.
In stepped Kozma.
Jay drew a couple of pickoff throws from Henderson right away before Kozma looked at ball one, up & away. The hit-and-run was on, and Jay took off as Kozma pulled the 1-0 delivery to the shortstop, Segura, whose only play was to first. Descalso then came to the plate with Jay at second, and one out. On the 1-0 pitch (ball 2), Jay's lead had gotten a bit too big for Maldonado's comfort, so he threw down to second, but it wasn't really much of a "pickoff" attempt. Descalso swung & missed at the next pitch for strike one, then watched ball 3 float outside. Ball four was a little further outside, and Descalso took his walk to first.
Jay was now on second, and Descalso on first, with one out for Matt Carpenter.
Carpenter found his way into an 0-2 count after just two pitches. (The theme from the original Super Mario Brothers played over the sound system at Miller Park between pitches 2 and 3 to Matt Carpenter here. I know, hardcore baseball reporting, right?). The third pitch was a ball, but Carpenter chased the next one, missing a fastball, and struck out. So, with Jay still on second & Descalso still on first, Beltran, who stepped in to bat left-handed against Henderson, came to plate with two down. He struck out swinging, stranding Jay and Descalso, as the game headed into the bottom of the 9th.
Cardinals up by a run, and Mujica would have his work cut out for him. Due up for the Brew crew were their 3-4-5 bats: Braun, Betancourt, and Weeks.
Braun fouled off the first pitch he saw, and then swung and missed on the next. After taking the next one for a ball, he grounded the next pitch weakly back to Mujica, for the first out.
Yuni also fouled off the first pitch, and swung and missed at the second one. He then fouled one off the ground that bounced back up and hit him in the face. Fouling off another, he got out in front of the last pitch he saw, grounding to Matt Carpenter at third, for a 5-3 putout.
Two down, and in stepped the Brewers' last hope: Rickie Weeks.
Mujica's first two pitches were fastballs out of the zone, and Weeks watched the next pitch settled right in for strike one. After fouling off the 2-1 pitch, Weeks fouled off a 2-2 pitch before he looked at ball 3. With a full count, Mujica ran one on in on Weeks' hands, and it was fouled off. The next full-count pitch Weeks saw, he lined to Beltran in right field to end the game in rather anticlimactic fashion.
7 - 6 Cardinals over the Brewers. Redbirds become winners of five straight, and remain owners of the NL's best record, now at 19-11. For more on the postgame recap, head over to C70 at the bat.