Gindl walks off in return to Brewers' lineup
MILWAUKEE -- Caleb Gindl's most recent start for the Brewers was miles better than his previous two.
Back in left field for the first time since a poor two-day showing against the Cubs on June 26-27, Gindl went 2-for-5 on Sunday, including a sweep-clinching home run in the 13th inning that gave the Brewers a 1-0 win over the Marlins at Miller Park.
It was Gindl's first Major League home run, so he was not surprised to get the traditional cold shoulder. In this case, that meant his teammates hustling up the clubhouse tunnel rather than onto the field to offer high-fives.
"I kind of knew that was going to happen," Gindl said. "I saw [Jean Segura] at home plate, and I was like, 'I guess the rest of them are in the tunnel.' I was running up there to find them.
"That's the highlight of my career."
Gindl, a natural right fielder who is capable of playing all three spots, had endured some lowlights in a previous stint with the Brewers. He made costly errors in back-to-back games, including a June 27 drop that contributed to four unearned runs in a 7-2 Brewers loss, then was optioned back to Triple-A Nashville the next day after getting some encouraging words from manager Ron Roenicke.
"He told me he knows I can play the outfield, that the first time up here is always different -- which it is," Gindl said. "'I think you play with a lot of nerves,' he told me, 'Hey, go back down there and do what you're supposed to do, and you'll be back.'"
Gindl responded by playing clean defense and batting .421 with seven extra-base hits in Nashville's first 10 games in July. He brought that hot bat into Sunday's start against Miami.
"He really squared up four baseballs," Roenicke said. "Good at-bats all day, and we didn't have a whole lot of those, so it was nice to see him swing well."
He also played a mistake-free game in the outfield in place of Ryan Braun, who was used only as a pinch-hitter.
"When those things happen and you make one error, you think about it, like, 'Oh my God, don't let it happen again,'" Gindl said before Sunday's game. "Then when it happens again, you go, 'Oh, no,' and it's the kind of thing that sticks with you a little bit. That's not me. I'm not used to making errors at all, especially in the outfield on popups. ... It's nice to get another opportunity. I'm not going to play so timid this time. I'm going to play wide-open."
Gindl's bat has been his best asset since the Brewers' made him a fifth-round Draft pick in 2007. He is a .293 hitter with 81 home runs in seven Minor League seasons, but Sunday marked a first.
"Never in my life have I ever hit a walk-off homer," Gindl said. "That was the first, and it was unreal running the base. It was pretty special."
The occassion also marked a first for the Brewers: Gindl became the first player in franchise history to hit a walk-off as his first Major League home run.
The homer ended the Majors' longest scoreless game since Boston won, 1-0, in 16 innings at Tampa Bay on July 17, 2011, according to Stats, Inc.
Gindl never expected to be the one to do it.
"Not at all," Gindl said. "Not a chance. I thought Braun or Rickie [Weeks] or somebody like that, but not me. Me and Jerry [Narron, the Brewers' bench coach] actually just talked about it, and he said, 'Don't try to hit a homer. Hit a double.' That was my approach. When I hit it, I thought it had a chance, but I thought it was going to go foul, actually. It snuck in there for me."