PHILADELPHIA -- After loading the bases without recording a hit and forcing Jacob Arrieta out of the game, the Brewers watched Phillies reliever Luis Garcia throw five pitches, all strikes, and pin Milwaukee's sixth-inning rally down to its last strike.Grand slams mean 40% off pizzaThree straight balls and a Ji-Man
PHILADELPHIA -- After loading the bases without recording a hit and forcing Jacob Arrieta out of the game, the Brewers watched Phillies reliever Luis Garcia throw five pitches, all strikes, and pin Milwaukee's sixth-inning rally down to its last strike.
Grand slams mean 40% off pizza
Three straight balls and a Ji-Man Choi pinch-hit grand slam later, the Brewers had turned a one-run deficit into a three-run lead during Saturday afternoon's 12-3 win at Citizens Bank Park, holding onto first place and opening the offensive floodgates in the process.
"I think it's a game of momentum, we just saw the momentum shift happen," Choi said through a team translator. "People started getting on base and I was able to deliver and all the guys were able to deliver as well."
Choi's first career grand slam sparked an outburst that buried the Phillies with 12 runs for the second night in a row. It was the first time since May 31 and June 1 of last year that the Phillies allowed double-digit runs in consecutive games. But for the Brewers, it was a welcome turnaround after failing to score more than five runs on a road trip that saw them drop a pair of series in Chicago and Cleveland.
"It feels really good," Choi said, "mainly because we were down and just to come back and get that."
The inning began with Ryan Braun reaching on catcher's interference. Jonathan Villar walked, and Arrieta hit Erik Kratz with a pitch. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler opted for Garcia in the high-pressure situation, and he answered with a three-pitch strikeout of Orlando Arcia.
Choi's fate appeared similar when he got behind Garcia 0-2. But he watched three balls go by and knew a fastball was coming. Choi whacked the 3-2 pitch to the opposite field, just barely sneaking it to the left-field corner with a 20 percent hit probability. The grand slam traveled just 347 feet and left the bat at 96 mph, according to Statcast™.
"That's a really big spot in a baseball game, and it's just a fabulous at-bat," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "It's the kind of at-bat where the chips are pretty stacked against you and you still come back and you produce something incredible."
In the dugout, an aggressive barrage of high-fives met Choi, who entering Saturday had one home run and six hits on the year. He had been recalled from the Minors on June 2 to DH during recent Interleague Play, and collected just one hit and seven strikeouts in 14 at-bats.
On Saturday, though, he played the hero. Starting pitcher Brent Suter -- who allowed three runs in five innings before Josh Hader, Taylor Williams, Dan Jennings and Boone Logan combined to finish the game from the bullpen -- said it was one of his favorite moments of the year.
"Just so happy for him," Suter said. "It was chaotic [in the dugout]. We had bodies flying, arms going in the air. It was crazy."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
One too many: After Arrieta walked Villar to put runners on first and second with one out in the sixth, Kapler took a lengthy visit to the mound. He kept Arrieta in the game. Arrieta hit Kratz on the second pitch of the at-bat, and Kapler had seen enough. This time, he pulled his starter.
That's when Garcia entered, striking out Arcia on three pitches, only to fall victim to Choi's stunning grand slam in the next at-bat.
Mercy: The Brewers bats' stayed alive in the seventh. Christian Yelich singled to open the frame. A Jesus Aguilar double scored him. A Braun single scored him. A Villar home run plated two more, and the Brewers suddenly had a 10-3 lead. They'd add two more in the ninth thanks to a Phillies throwing error and a Hernan Perez single.
"It's fun to play with, fun to watch," Suter said. "We've got great swings by a lot of people today."
The Brewers have not lost a game in which Hader has pitched this season, amassing a 21-0 record when Hader sees action. That is a Brewers franchise record for a pitcher to start the season. Hader had not pitched since June 2, but tossed a perfect sixth frame with one strikeout. His ERA is down to 1.02.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Aguilar homered off Arrieta to open the scoring, giving the Brewers a first-inning homer for the second day in a row. Aguilar now has nine home runs in his last 23 games after just two in his first 33 games this year.
"Against a guy like [Arrieta], to take a little piece of him just right off the bat, that's important," Counsell said. "It tells the guy, 'Hey, it's gonna be tough and you gotta make pitches to this whole lineup.'"
HE SAID IT
"A grand slam, you need players on base, so it's more about teammates than me. Just them getting on base and giving me that opportunity." -- Choi
Brandon Woodruff (2-0, 6.05 ERA) returns to the Brewers from Triple-A Colorado Springs to start the 12:35 p.m. CT series finale at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday. Woodruff last pitched in the Majors on May 23 and owns an 8.49 ERA in three 2018 starts. The Phillies start Zach Eflin (2-2, 3.74 ERA), who stymied the Cubs over 7.2 one-run innings last week at Wrigley Field.
Joe Bloss is a contributor to MLB.com based in Philadelphia.