MILWAUKEE -- It was supposed to be a pitchers’ duel between the owners of Major League Baseball’s second- and fourth-best ERAs. Instead, the Brewers’ Zach Davies and the Reds’ Luis Castillo were both bounced in the bottom of the third inning of a game owned by the offenses Wednesday at Miller Park, and may have been saved by one of the strangest double plays you’ll ever see.
All on the heels of the Brewers’ first shutout loss all season.
“Baseball is crazy. Baseball makes you crazy,” Perez said, summing up the sentiment in both clubhouses.
Here are the moments that mattered most for the Brewers in a wild one:
1. Double play the hard way
Inning: Top seventh
Win expectancy before the play: 65.6%
Win expectancy after the play: 89.0%
A five-run sixth inning gave the Brewers an 11-8 lead into the seventh when lefty Alex Claudio and Jeremy Jeffress quickly found trouble. With the bases loaded and one out, Jeffress clipped Reds catcher Curt Casali on the arm with a pitch, forcing in a run. Next up was Phillip Ervin, who came within inches of hitting a tying double into the right-field corner, only to be denied by a foul ball call from umpire Mike Winters. The Reds challenged, and there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the ruling, so it stood.
The at-bat continued to a swinging strikeout of Ervin on a splitter in the strike zone that got past catcher Grandal. When the baseball caromed hard back to him -- a rare occurrence at Miller Park because of the composition of the backstop -- Grandal initially fumbled it. But he recovered in time to see Casali way off first base, and threw down to begin a rundown that bailed the Brewers out of the inning with a two-run lead intact.
“That’s a play we work on every day,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
But seriously …
“No, we caught a break there. One hundred percent,” Counsell said. “It was a cross-up and we just caught a break. ‘What is going on?’ was everyone’s reaction on the field. It was a lot of stuff that happened on just one play.”
First baseman Eric Thames was right in the middle of it, and tossed to Hiura who applied the inning-ending tag with Casali face down in the dirt off first base and the lead Reds runner, Derek Dietrich, still planted firmly at third.
“I think we were all just like, ‘What just happened?’” said Thames. “Arcia and I were laughing a little about that rundown, but it all worked out and we got out of that inning. It was one of those weird things.”
"A lot of times, as a runner, you just react," Reds manager David Bell said. "If you wait around, you're not going to make it. The hard part is to run with your head up. Curt reacted there and they got out of the inning.”
2. Grandal for the tie
Inning: Bottom sixth
Win expectancy before the play: 31.2%
Win expectancy after the play 57.5%
Hiura’s first Miller Park home run started a comeback in the second inning that continued with three runs in the third inning and two more in the fourth for a tie that got away from Brewers relievers Corbin Burnes and Junior Guerra in the fifth, when Cincinnati reclaimed a two-run lead. It wasn’t until a five-run sixth inning that the Brewers’ took their first lead with a rally that began with three successive hits off Wandy Peralta, the biggest coming off the bat of Grandal. His tying, two-run home run to right field knotted the game at 8, and the Brewers never trailed again.
“He got that one good,” said Counsell. “He got a pitch down, and [batting] right-handed, I think that’s his best swing, is center-right field. It was a no-doubter.”
3. Perez for the lead
Inning: Bottom sixth
Win expectancy before the play: 62.7%
Win expectancy after the play: 80.7%
Perez entered the day with one hit in his last 12 at-bats but drew a start in right field against Reds right-hander Castillo because Christian Yelich was sidelined a second straight game by of back spasms. Perez made the most of the opportunity with a double in the second inning, an infield single in the third and a tiebreaking, RBI single in the sixth that gave the Brewers the lead for good.
“I needed a day like that,” Perez said. “I know I was struggling.”
4. Arcia wins a long battle
Inning: Bottom third
Win expectancy before the play: 18.3%
Win expectancy after the play: 33.5%
The single best at-bat of the day may have belonged to Arcia, who fought Castillo for nine pitches on the way to a two-run single in Milwaukee’s three-run third inning that forced the tough Reds righty from the ballgame.
“We knew early on that there was still a lot of game left,” Arcia said through translator Carlos Brizuela. “They scored most of their runs early on, and we were able to put a few back on there. We just kept our head up, we kept a good attitude going, and we kept grinding it out. We were able to pull it off, and I think [that attitude] was a big part of it.”