Braun homers, but 'weird' rally breaks Brewers
Gonzalez's debut foiled by walk, bunt, broken-bat single in seventh
MILWAUKEE -- Give Michael Gonzalez some credit. The left-handed reliever was able to take one positive from his bizarre Brewers debut.
"I'm just glad Alex [Gonzalez] is alive," he said.
The Brewers' Gonzalezes did escape a weird seventh inning unscathed, unless you count Michael's record. He faced three Rockies batters and none of them hit a ball farther than 90 feet -- yet all three scored amid a broken-bat-aided rally that sent the Brewers to an 8-4 loss on Tuesday at Miller Park.
Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez each homered for the second straight night as the Rockies earned rookie manager Walt Weiss his first win.
That result rendered moot Ryan Braun's first 2013 home run, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the third inning that landed in a group party area just over the right-field fence, and a rare run-scoring hit for Brewers starter Marco Estrada, who managed only three RBIs all of last season.
In the end, it seemed the game was decided by the baseball gods.
On this night, they favored the visitors.
"What do you do about an inning like that?" Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.
The seventh inning began with the teams tied at 4 and Gonzalez, one of the key players in Brewers general manager Doug Melvin's bullpen makeover, trotting in from the bullpen. He walked Dexter Fowler on five pitches before Josh Rutledge squared to bunt and directed the baseball right at the pitcher's mound. By the time Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy picked it up and fired to first, Rutledge was safe with an infield hit.
Gonzalez had even worse luck with Carlos Gonzalez, who hit a chopper toward Alex Gonzalez at first base that would have been routine had the barrel of Carlos Gonzalez's broken bat not followed. Alex Gonzalez flinched, Carlos Gonzalez was safe and Michael Gonzalez's Brewers debut was done.
"Weird," Roenicke said.
Burke Badenhop arrived in relief and surrendered a tiebreaking sacrifice fly to Tulowitzki and RBI singles to Michael Cuddyer and Todd Helton. Cuddyer's hit didn't leave the infield. Helton's floated into center field.
"Luck's going to happen," Tulowitzki said. "You take a look at [Monday's] game and they ran into a little bit of luck, too, with some of the infield hits. We did a good enough job fighting to get back into the game, then we had some big at-bats and were able to extend our lead."
"The disappointing thing for me right there was walking that first dude," Gonzalez said. "You don't want to do that. That just opens up the inning."
The rest was just bad luck.
"The bunt, maybe we should make a play on. The broken bat, I don't know what you should do with that thing," Roenicke said. "Bloop to center. Swinging bunt to third.
"It just didn't go well."
The flying bat was a new experience for Alex Gonzalez, who had never played an inning away from shortstop in the Major Leagues before Monday's season opener. He saw both bat and ball at the same time and knew he was in trouble.
"That's a first for me. It was coming right after me," he said. "You can't do anything."
"Tough luck," Michael Gonzalez said. "I've seen that a couple of times, but not to me. Seriously, at that moment right there, you want an out, but you want to make sure Alex is all right and he doesn't get one to the eye or something like that."
On the mound, Estrada struck out eight batters and walked none in five innings, but he also surrendered four runs on nine hits. Just like Yovani Gallardo the day before, he misplaced pitches to Tulowitzki, whose solo home run tied the game at 2 in the third inning, and Carlos Gonzalez, whose two-run homer tied the game at 4 in the fifth.
Both pitches were 89-mph fastballs up and away, and both were mistakes, Estrada said.
"Two got away from me, and two good hitters did what they were supposed to do," Estrada said. "They hit them over the wall. I thought I made some good pitches overall, [but] I was disappointed with the offspeed stuff."
Estrada had already accounted for a Brewers run in the second inning, when he battled Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa for an eight-pitch at-bat and poked a two-out, run-scoring single to right field. It scored Carlos Gomez, who had just put the Brewers on the board with an RBI double.
Braun got to De La Rosa the following inning for home run No. 1. De La Rosa, a left-hander who pitched to a 6.23 ERA in parts of three seasons with the Brewers from 2004-06, allowed four runs on five hits and threw 77 pitches in 4 1/3 innings.
The Brewers had less success against five Rockies relievers, who combined for 4 2/3 scoreless innings. Edgmer Escalona pitched 1 2/3 innings for his first Major League win.
Cuddyer finished with three hits, was one of five Rockies with multiple hits in the game and made his presence felt defensively with a diving catch in the eighth to begin an inning-ending double play.
Colorado already has 26 hits in the first two games of a season-opening series that will conclude Wednesday night.
"They have a good hitting team, they do," Roenicke said. "And tonight, everything they hit went in."