Crew downed by Goldschmidt's 3-HR game

March 30th, 2019

MILWAUKEE -- It’s going to be a long six years if the Brewers don’t solve their problem -- to the extent that one of the National League’s best hitters can be solved.

Already Miller Park’s all-time leader in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage among players who have stepped to home plate here at least 100 times, Goldschmidt added three more home runs to his ledger on Friday, including a tiebreaking solo shot in the sixth inning of the Cardinals’ 9-5 win over the Brewers.

Goldschmidt tallied four hits and put five balls in play. They left his bat at 105.0 mph, 104.9 mph, 107.3 mph, 105.8 mph and 106.4 mph, according to Statcast. All were with two strikes. He hit a fastball, a Taylor Williams slider and a Jacob Barnes cutter for home runs. Goldschmidt’s shortest plate appearance was five pitches.

“He definitely got us today,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We’re just going to have to make better pitches. The good hitters, the great hitters, the margin for error is far more slim. Once in awhile, they’re going to hit a tough pitch out, and I think he did that to Freddy in his first at-bat, but when those guys are locked in, mistakes are likely to get hit hard.”

All three home runs were mistake pitches. Peralta wanted a fastball away and missed way in, almost off the plate. Williams left a full-count slider too far up in the strike zone after Goldschmidt fouled off three straight quality fastballs. Barnes’ cutter wasn’t far enough away.

“I felt like I was throwing him some good fastballs 3-2, and I had a chance to beat him,” Williams said. “Execution was the big thing there.”

When he stepped to the plate in the ninth inning with first base open and the Cardinals up four runs, the Brewers denied Goldschmidt entry to the four-homer club by intentionally walking him.

“There’s a base open. It’s the logical thing to do,” Counsell said.

The Brewers will see a lot more of Goldschmidt in the coming seasons. He was traded from the D-backs to the Cardinals in December, signed a contract extension during Spring Training that runs through 2024, and went hitless with three strikeouts in his regular season debut Thursday before going off on Friday night.

What does he make of his Miller Park success?

“I don’t have a good answer for you,” Goldschmidt said. “You can have success in one place or off one pitcher, but that can change pretty quickly. There are ballparks or pitchers you do well off of, and then all of a sudden, they have your number or you don’t do well there. I don’t really put too much stock in it.”


1. Throw strikes
Goldschmidt made Peralta pay during a 39-pitch first inning highlighted by a 10-pitch battle between the perennial NL MVP candidate and the 22-year-old right-hander. Peralta was “scattered” with his fastball, said Counsell, and just missed with a number of pitches as home-plate umpire Marvin Hudson established a tight zone. Peralta threw 80 pitches over three-plus innings.

“I made a mistake, and I paid for it,” Peralta said. “I saw the video, and it was a ball. I don’t know how he hit it, but he hit it good.”

2. Hard work pays off
Ryan Braun tied the game in the third inning with his first home run of 2019 after Lorenzo Cain legged out a two-out infield hit and Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty walked Christian Yelich. It was a good sign after Braun spent the offseason tweaking his swing in response to a tough-luck 2018 season in which his production sagged in spite of underlying metrics that showed he was hitting the baseball as hard as ever.

“Hitting behind Christian is going to be a challenge,” Counsell said. “You’re going to have lots of spots like that. He’s definitely capable of it.”

3. Silver linings
Cain and Travis Shaw each avoided an injury scare. Cain didn’t require X-rays after jamming his left thumb on second base when he was caught stealing in the fifth inning, while Shaw was OK after being hit on the right hand by an Andrew Miller pitch in the eighth.

Cain was more irritated than injured. He was sure he was safe, and when the Brewers challenged, the stadium replay appeared to back up that belief. But the call on the field stood, and it proved pivotal when Yelich followed with a single that might have broken a 4-4 tie had Cain been on second base. Goldschmidt led off the next half-inning with his tiebreaking homer.

“I was really sure that I was safe,” Cain said. “But hey, what can you do. It didn’t go our way.”