Maldonado's run as starter ends in style
Catcher hits walk-off homer in final game filling in for Lucroy
MILWAUKEE -- Martin Maldonado's disappointing five-week run as the Brewers' starting catcher had a grand finale. Maldonado delivered the game-winning home run in the bottom of the 17th inning, collected three other hits, scored two runs and drove in another in a 7-6 win over the D-backs.
Maldonado caught all 17 innings and hit his first walk-off home run in the same game.
"I thought he was a different guy today. He needed to be a different guy," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "I know Luc [Jonathan Lucroy] is coming back, but it was time for him to be a better version of himself."
Maldonado is expected back on the bench when Lucroy comes off the disabled list for a series opener in St. Louis on Monday.
At the same time, Maldonado expressed disappointment about his performance after Lucroy suffered a fractured left big toe on April 20. There was the Mother's Day walk-off hit, but Maldonado entered Sunday batting .168/.231/.224 during Lucroy's absence.
He also had two passed balls and five errors, including a drop on a play at the plate Saturday that cost the Brewers a run.
Sunday was more like it for Maldonado. Other than the game-winning blast, he doubled and scored in the third inning, singled home a run in the fourth, and doubled and scored in the sixth inning as part of a go-ahead rally. In his 33rd start with Lucroy on the DL, it marked Maldonado's fourth multi-hit game.
"He had a heck of a game today," Counsell said. "He needed it."
Maldonado also delivered a defensive gem. With the teams tied again in the eighth following a Mark Trumbo home run, Maldonado dove out of his crouch to catch Jarrod Saltalamacchia's foul tip, completing a strikeout for Brewers reliever Jeremy Jeffress. All of this coming while catching all 17 innings.
"I am tired. I'm glad Luc is coming back tomorrow," Maldonado said. "I was just grinding it out for 17 innings."