Considering how this game began, it was a real pleasure just to write that headline.
In a match that featured two prominent, yet struggling, pitchers starting it ended up being the bullpens that needed to carry the day. Gallardo and Liriano did not disappoint, but neither could put the other team away despite good performances.
Whatever offense occurred during the game came in bunches, and in the end it was Milwaukee who delivered the final punch, a two-run homer by Martin Maldonado which was the final nail in the coffin at Target Field for a 5-3 Brewer victory to end a three game losing streak.
By the middle of the game, it seemed impossible for Milwaukee to gain any traction against Twins starter Francisco Liriano. Going into the sixth inning, Liriano looked to be on fire – carrying a no-hitter with five strikeouts and two walks. At that point, the 2-0 lead for the Twins seemed all but assured.
No hitters are hard enough to complete, and made even harder when Ryan Braun is due up.
Braun extended his hitting streak to ten games tonight in the sixth inning, and also energized the team while doing so. It wasn’t just breaking up a no-no, it was blasting an 87 MPH slider into center field with Maysonet and Gomez on base. The one out home run was the only hit against Liriano for the night – he would induce a ground-ball out from Ramirez and strike out Corey Hart to end his start – but that one hit was devastating enough.
Yovani Gallardo, on the other hand, had a very quiet, but very respectable no decision on the night. He effectively dealt with Twins batters through the first third of the game, at one point retiring seven straight batters before Joe Mauer drew a walk in the bottom of the fourth. Before that, only one Twin had recorded a hit and it seemed that a pitcher’s duel was on.
In the bottom of the fifth, Yo ran into his first roadblock. That roadblock’s name was Trevor Plouffe, who led off with a home run to break the tie and put Minnesota up 1-0. He would then give up three consecutive singles to score Brian Dozier and put the Twins up 2-0 with no outs.
Roenicke decided to leave Gallardo in to clean up his mess, and in a very tense situation Yo was able to buckle down and finish the inning with no further damage.
In the very next inning, however, Plouffe would put up another homer on Yovani to even up the score
at 3-3. Yovani finished out the inning – his last of the night – and left an uncertain game up to his bullpen.
Roenicke went to Manny Parra first, who put out Ben Revere and allowed a single to Joe Mauer. That was enough for Parra to leave the game in lieu of Kameron Loe – the eventual winning pitcher on the night. Loe went one and two thirds innings, and began his night by striking out the first two Twins he faced. He gave up only one hit on the night and had the kind of performance Milwaukee fans wished for all season from a Brewers reliever.
The Twins relief held Milwaukee scoreless through the eighth inning, and Matt Capps was on the mound to begin another tied ninth inning for the Brewers. Corey hart led off and picked the perfect time to connect on his first hit of the night – a ground-rule double to right field on a 1-2 count.
It seemed like it would be another wasted offensive show, however, as Rickie Weeks quickly popped out and Taylor Green fanned on four pitches. Hart seemed destined to be stranded in scoring position, and the Brewers destined to another tight finish.
That is, until Martin Maldonado hit a clutch home run to left-center on another misplaced fastball by Capps. It gave Milwaukee a soft cushion to sit on, up 5-3 with the Twins last chance at-bats coming with the top of the Twins order due up.
In a night that bucked many recent trends for Milwaukee, John Axford threw a ten pitch, perfect ninth inning to earn his 11th save of the year, and throw off the Milwaukee losing streak.
Milwaukee will look to string together wins tomorrow as Michael Fiers takes on Liam Hendriks.