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Brewers look ahead to Wild Card Game vs. Nats

Milwaukee ends regular season with consecutive walk-off losses
@AdamMcCalvy
September 29, 2019

DENVER -- Long before the Rockies rallied against seldom-used pitchers Corbin Burnes and Taylor Williams to extend the Brewers’ 4-3 loss all the way to 13 innings at Coors Field on Sunday, Milwaukee’s postseason fate was set. We’ll see you on Tuesday night in Washington D.C. for the National League

DENVER -- Long before the Rockies rallied against seldom-used pitchers Corbin Burnes and Taylor Williams to extend the Brewers’ 4-3 loss all the way to 13 innings at Coors Field on Sunday, Milwaukee’s postseason fate was set.

We’ll see you on Tuesday night in Washington D.C. for the National League Wild Card Game.

Box score

It will be Brandon Woodruff and the Brewers’ army of out-getters against Washington’s trio of aces: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin.

“We’re going into a hostile environment, playing against a hot team with one of the best pitchers in the league,” said Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun, who expects to start on Tuesday after sitting out the weekend with a calf injury. “Certainly, it will be a challenge, but we’ve had our backs against the wall all month. We’ve been counted out many times. We kind of like being in that position.”

Date Result Highlights
Oct. 1 WSH 4, MIL 3 Watch

Entering Sunday’s regular-season finale, the Brewers’ position was this: They needed a win over the Rockies plus a Cardinals loss to the Cubs to force a tiebreaker in St. Louis on Monday for the NL Central crown, and Yasmani Grandal started things right with a two-run home run in the first inning that gave the veteran catcher a career-high 28 homers this season. But the Cardinals struck early and often against left-hander Derek Holland and the Cubs, matching the Brewers’ 2-0 lead in the first inning and growing it to 9-0 after the fourth en route to a win at Busch Stadium by that final tally.

The lopsided score in St. Louis prompted manager Craig Counsell to start resting what regulars he had in the lineup for a bigger game on Tuesday night.

What's ahead? Brewers postseason FAQ

The same Brewers team that won seven games in a row and 18 of 20 to storm into the postseason was swept by a Rockies team that needed Sunday’s win to avoid last place in the NL West. That meant an 89-73 finish for Milwaukee, which was denied consecutive 90-victory seasons for the first time since the Bambi’s Bombers clubs in 1978-79.

And the Brewers were also denied a 21st victory in their magical September, which would have matched the club record for a calendar month.

Is any of that good mojo left?

“I don’t think it’s lost,” Grandal said. “I think being hot all throughout September, making it -- a lot of times, I feel like you need to end up on a down note in order to bring you back down to Earth. The fact that we got swept here, I don’t see it as a bad thing. I actually see it as a good thing. It will kind of wake us up and realize the task that we have ahead.”

Grandal came out of the game after four innings along with starter Adrian Houser, who delivered four scoreless frames to finish his first full season in the big leagues with a 3.72 ERA in 111 1/3 innings. Third baseman Mike Moustakas and first baseman Eric Thames were off their feet by the sixth, when Hernán Pérez homered in Moustakas’ spot for a 3-0 lead.

But the out-of-town scoreboard brought bad news.

“We had our chances,” said Houser, referring to Brewers losses on Friday and Saturday that coincided with Cardinals losses, denying Milwaukee a share of first place. “We didn’t capitalize on them. It’s over with now, and we’re looking forward to Tuesday.”

The lead slipped away late. Burnes’ miserable season ended with the right-hander allowing one run in both the seventh and eighth innings, and then first baseman Tyler Austin’s error helped the Rockies tie the game in the ninth. For both Burnes and Williams, it was only their second appearance all month.

The Brewers couldn’t score after loading the bases with nobody out in the 11th inning, and the Rockies won in the bottom of the 13th on a throwing error off a bunt by third-string catcher Jacob Nottingham and a wild pitch by Jake Faria. That rally included a scare when Brewers second baseman Keston Hiura, a critical player entering the offseason with so many of Milwaukee’s position players banged-up, was involved a collision with an umpire near first base. Hiura, Orlando Arcia, Trent Grisham and Cory Spangenberg played all 13 innings.

“We move forward,” Braun said. “All that matters is Tuesday. I think for all of us, as soon as it was 5-0 in the Cardinals game, our game didn’t matter. The goal was just to get through the game without anybody getting hurt. That was, fortunately, what we were able to do. We’ll move on quickly and look forward to Tuesday night.”

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram and like him on Facebook.