How do you spell wasted opportunities?
At times this year, it’s B-R-E-W-E-R-S.
Anchored by another great pitching performance by Randy Wolf – his second strong outing in a row – ended in another no-decision and another one-run loss, this time in extra innings.
Outside of a Billy Butler RBI in the very first inning, Wolf threw hard and stymied chance after chance for Royals batters. He only struck out one batter over seven innings, but over the six hits Kansas City managed to scatter during that time, only one runner was plated.
Milwaukee hit the ball well tonight, with 13 hits over the course of 11 innings. Only two Brewers, starting catcher George Kottaras and pinch hitter Brooks Conrad put up zeroes in the hit column. Unfortunately, the Brewers managed to leave 13 men standing on base when those 11 innings came to an end. Aramis Ramirez drove in one run in the third, and Braun earned his 41st RBI by plating Maysonet in the top of the 7th inning. By that time it was 3-1, and it seemed all but over and in Milwaukee’s favor.
That’s usually the case, anyway, when John Axford comes to the mound in the ninth.
Axford got the Brewers two quick outs, and walked Eric Hosmer – who would steal second on a play scored as defensive indifference. Four pitches later, former Brewer Alcides Escobar would drive a triple deep into right field, over Braun’s shoulder, to secure the tie and give Axford just his second blown save of the year. Axford would strike out the final Royal batter of regulation, but the damage was clearly done.
The Brewers would threaten in the 10th inning, with Rickie Weeks making his way over to third after singling and advancing on a clutch line drive single from Martin Maldonado – however a foul-tip strike out from Edwin Maysonet killed their chance.
In the eleventh, the Brewers would finally fall apart out of the bullpen. Kameron Loe would replace
Manny Parra who held the Royals scoreless in the tenth frame. Loe promptly loaded the bases by giving up a single, a walk, and a single to the first three Kansas City batters. It was enough tension to pull the reliever in favor of Jose Veras.
The tension would be quickly nullified for Royals fans, as Jose Veras gave up a walk-off walk on five
pitches to plate Billy Butler and win the series for the Royals.
All in all, it was a second confusing and frustrating game for Milwaukee – made more so by the fact that the bullpen fell apart at a time when it seemed they were finally becoming more reliable.
Amid all the line-up changes, audible frustrations and shoddy on-field performance, fans are looking for any sign that this team is ready to make a charge for the top of the division. If tonight’s game is any indication, they may be waiting for a very long time.