Rogers' 8th-inning mistakes cost Crew game, series

August 14th, 2022

ST. LOUIS -- After a strong performance the night before, Brewers reliever Taylor Rogers got his first chance to throw in consecutive games for his new club. On Sunday, the results left something to be desired.

Rogers gave up a pair of home runs, including a mammoth 443-foot three-run homer off the bat of Albert Pujols, as Milwaukee gave up an early lead to come away with a 6-3 loss at Busch Stadium to lose the series and help the Cardinals increase their lead in the National League Central to 1 1/2 games.

“He just made some mistakes. And you know, some good hitters put good swings on some mistakes,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.

Rogers had appeared in three previous games since coming to Milwaukee from San Diego at the Trade Deadline as part of a package for All-Star reliever Josh Hader, throwing three innings of one-run ball.

That included a scoreless frame in the Brewers’ 3-2 10-inning win Saturday night that included a key strikeout of Pujols.

But Pujols ambushed the first pitch he saw from Rogers on Sunday for his second homer of the game. It was Pujols’ 63rd career multi-homer game, tying him with Willie Mays for fifth most all time.

“He's a guy that, especially against lefties, if he's gonna get a pitch to hit, he’s going to be ready to hit it,” outfielder Andrew McCutchen said. “He got his pitches today, out over the plate, and he did damage. That's what he's done his whole career.”

Dylan Carlson greeted Rogers with a homer to break a 2-2 tie in the eighth. Pujols hit a solo homer in the second, and Tyler O’Neill added another in the sixth.

One positive the Brewers can take is the start from Aaron Ashby, who rediscovered his command while pitching six strong innings. Ashby allowed a pair of runs on just three hits while striking out five.

After walking eight total batters in his past two starts, Ashby gave just two free passes, neither of which hurt him.

Ashby worked well with catcher Mario Feliciano, who made his first Major League start.

“He was just around the zone a lot, even his misses were around the zone,” Counsell said. “I thought Mario did a nice job, too. They really had a pace going, which sometimes when Ash is throwing well, just kind of keep him in that pace, and I thought Mario did a nice job of that.”

Ashby said the familiarity with Feliciano, his batterymate in the Minor Leagues, helped.

“A little throwback to last year and our time spent in the Minor Leagues,” Ashby said. “It’s just that comfortability there. He knows what I want to do, I know what he wants to do, and then kind of just working back and forth with each other.”

Hunter Renfroe’s 405-foot blast to center field gave the Brewers a 2-0 lead in the second inning. It was Renfroe’s 20th of the season and first since July 31.

Renfroe joined Rowdy Tellez, who hit a solo homer in the ninth, and Willy Adames as Brewers with at least 20 home runs this season. The Braves and Yankees are the only other teams in baseball with three players at or over the 20-homer mark this season.

But the Brewers couldn’t get anything else against Miles Mikolas, who struck out six over eight innings. Mikolas retired 20 of the final 22 hitters he faced following Renfroe’s homer.

“Everyone was locating, making the big pitches when they needed to make them, efficient, quick,” McCutchen said. “I think it was both sides. I think Ashby did the same thing. He gave up a couple homers on pitches that he didn't locate where he wanted to locate them, and that's the way that went. I think both guys did exceptionally well.”

All three games in the series followed a season-long pattern of mostly close games with a slim margin of error between the two top teams in the NL Central.

The Cardinals now hold an 8-7 season series lead over the Brewers, and nine of those games have been decided by two runs or fewer.

The rivals meet four more times this season with two games in St. Louis in mid-September and two games in Milwaukee in late September. Those games could be the deciding factor between playing postseason baseball or watching from home since there are no more tiebreaker games and the winner of the head-to-head series will be declared the division champion if they end the season with identical records.

“There's a ton of games left and a ton of baseball left,” Counsell said. “So, you know, today was disappointing, but you gotta get right back at it tomorrow.”