Last night, the Brewers almost pulled off an unlikely extra-inning victory, just to watch the win slip away. Man, baseball can be cruel sometimes.
In last night’s game against the Twins, the Brewers went from nearly being no-hit to standing 90 feet from an extra-inning lead, only to ultimately still lose the game. It was an example of how some games can be both beautiful and cruel, emotionally, to both players and fans.
Let me get one thing straight: all sports have the ability to be cruel. Athletes pour their heart and soul into every game, only to possibly still come out on the losing end. If you’re on a bad team, you get that feeling more often than not.
But in baseball, the close losses seem that much more cruel. It’s already a game of failure – after all, failing to get a hit 70% of the time is actually considered acceptable. Teams grind and grind to put themselves in position to get a win, only to possibly have the tides turn with one swing of a bat.
The Brewers failed plenty in the early stages, not to mention middle and late stages, of Tuesday night’s game, yet still almost got to experience the joy of a come-from-behind win. Instead, the cruel mistress that is baseball snatched defeat right from the jaws of victory.
Let’s not forget about the cruelty that was experienced in the opposing dugout, though. Twins starter Kenta Maeda was on his way to making history last night. Maeda was nearly flawless through eight innings, having thrown 113 pitches and three outs from MLB’s first no-hitter of 2020.
Then in a flash, it was all gone. Eric Sogard‘s weak liner to center on Maeda’s 115th pitch gave the Brewers their first hit of the game, ending the no-hit bid. Three batters later, the game was tied, and Maeda’s near no-hitter was merely a strong no-decision. It hardly seemed like a fair ending, but that is unfortunately how baseball often goes.
Milwaukee would be unable to take the lead before the ninth inning had ended. Still, for the Brewers, hope had all of a sudden arisen where there previously had been very little. Was their resilience going to be rewarded with the exhilaration of an extra-inning, come-from-behind victory?
If this were some sort of sports movie, yes, that’s exactly how things would have ended for the Brewers. But we’re talking about real baseball. And real baseball can be downright cruel, which is what one might have thought after how the game did end up playing out.
The Brewers certainly made it close, putting runners on first and third with no outs in the 12th inning. After a Manny Pina pop out, Orlando Arcia slapped a ball to right that should’ve dropped and should’ve given Milwaukee the lead and a chance to win in the bottom of the inning.
Except that’s not what happened. Twins right fielder Max Kepler made an incredible diving catch and Milwaukee’s Jedd Gyorko, who was the runner on third, froze just up the baseline waiting to see if the hit would drop. Gyorko had no time left to tag and score, and the Twins would wind up improbably getting out of the inning.
That was just the opening that the Twins would need. Arcia’s near perfectly placed knock to the outfield couldn’t bring a run in. Instead, two grounders that didn’t even leave the infield would score the winning run for the Twins in the bottom of the 12th. What a cruel way to end things.
Baseball is full of possible cruelties, from being unable to get out of a cold streak because all your scorched line drives keep getting hit right at a fielder, to supposedly being in perfect position to field a grounder only to have it inexplicably carom off the bag for a hit.
Tuesday night’s game won’t be the last time the Brewers or their fans experience baseball’s cruelties this season. And that’s okay. We may hate those moments when they happen, but whether we know it or not, they’re part of why we love to watch this beautifully cruel game.