Brewer Bats Continue To Struggle, Whiff 14 Times in Loss
By Bill Berg
Jul 29, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays catcher Curt Casali (59) talks with starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) during the eighth inning on the mound against the Milwaukee Brewers at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Brewers hoped for a little offense on Tuesday in the second game of their three-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Milwaukee bats had only scored one run in their last 19 innings coming into tonight’s game that pit Matt Garza (7-7, 3.87 ERA) against Alex Cobb (6-6, 3.76 ERA).
Garza threw a gem, but Cobb struck out 12, still struggling, Brewers hitters over eight innings of work before the starters gave way to the bullpens in a 1-1 tie.
The Brewers bullpen, notably Will Smith, promptly threw gas on the fire and gave up 4 runs en route to a 5-1 Rays win.
Neither team had a base runner until Brandon Guyer knocked a two-out double down the line in left in the bottom of the second inning, but that was it for the Rays in the frame.
Cobb set the first nine Brewers down in order through three innings, including four strike outs.
Curt Casali led off the bottom of the third with a single. He was erased at second on a fielder’s choice ground out to short by Kevin Kiermaier. Kiermaier was erased on a double play on a long fly ball to center by Desmond Jennings.
Kiermaier must have thought Logan Schafer couldn’t get to it because he kept running, and Jean Segura threw him out at first after getting the ball from Schafer in a bit of bad base running from the Rays.
After ten straight outs by the Crew, Jonathan Lucroy knocked a single down the line in left to break up the prefect game. He was erased on a Braun double play ground out.
Garza had another three-up, three-down inning in the fourth.
Aramis Ramirez led of the fifth with a single through the empty right side of the infield, beating the shift. Khris Davis followed with a walk to put two on. Mark Reynolds, 0-for-8 in his career against Cobb, sacrificed the runners up a base with a bunt. It was his first sac bunt since 2008.
Ramirez came in to score on a Scooter Gennett sacrifice fly to center to give Milwaukee the lead. Segura popped out to end the inning.
After getting two quick outs in the bottom of the frame Yunel Escobar doubled to the wall in left center. But that is where he stayed as a pop out ended the inning.
Cobb earned another one-two-three inning in the sixth, setting down Schafer, Gomez (for Gomez’ third whiff) and Lucroy in order, all with strike outs.
With two out in the bottom of the sixth the Rays tied the game on a Ben Zobrist home run down the line in right. Matt Joyce followed with a single up the middle.
Evan Longoria walked to extend the inning but Garza got James Loney to pop out to third to end the inning.
Ryan Braun walked to open the seventh inning for Milwaukee but was erased on a pick off to clear the bases. Ramirez and Davis struck out to end the inning.
Guyer drew a nine-pitch walk to open the seventh inning but was erased at second base on a fielder’s choice ground out by Escobar. Casali grounded to Ramirez at third and the Brewers turned two to end the inning.
Scooter Gennett knocked a one-out single in the top of the eighth to give Milwaukee some life, but Segura and Schafer struck out to end the inning with no damage done.
Will Smith came on to toss the eighth for Milwaukee, ending Garza’s night. Garza threw seven innings and allowed just one run on five hits and two walks. He struck out two hitters.
Smith walked pinch-hitter Sean Rodriguez to open the bottom of the eighth. Jennings bunted him over to second. Rodriguez took third on a wild pitch by Smith.
Zobrist drove him home with an RBI double down the line in left to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead. Logan Forsythe, pinch hitting for Matt Joyce, knocked a double to deep center to bring in Zobrist and extend the lead.
Smith intentionally walked Longoria to get back to a left-handed hitter, in Loney. Unfortunately for the Crew, Smith walked Loney on five pitches to load the bases for Guyer.
That was enough and Ron Roenicke called for Marco Estrada. Guyer knocked a slow roller down the first base line. Reynolds fired to the plate but Forsythe beat the ball home to make it 4-1.
After strike one on Escobar he took exception and ended up getting thrown out of the game for arguing balls and strikes. Cole Figueroa finished the at bat for the Rays.
Figueroa flew out to Davis in left to bring in Longoria; Loney was thrown out at third after the run scored to end the inning with Milwaukee suddenly trailing 5-1.
The final line on Smith in the inning was four runs on two hits and three walks in just 1/3 of an inning of work. Estrada gave up a hit in 2/3 of an inning.
Grant Balfour came on to pitch the ninth for the Rays and he promptly gave Gomez the Golden Sombrero with his fourth strike out of the game. Balfour struck out Lucroy for the second out. Braun grounded out to short to end the game.
Smith took the loss for Milwaukee, and Cobb earned the win for the Rays. He threw eight innings and allowed just one run on three hits and two walks. He struck out 12 Brewers.
Over their last three games the Brewers have scored two runs on just two hits and an astonishing 30 strike outs. Lost in the Brewers offenses collapse is the fantastic work done by the team’s starting pitching over the last week.
Cincinnati already won today so they pick up a game in the division with the Brewers loss. Pittsburgh and St. Louis haven’t started their games yet tonight.