Brewers win 9-4, take 2-0 NLDS lead on Diamondbacks

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Busting a tie game open with a five-spot in the sixth, the Brewers beat the Diamondbacks 9-4 on Sunday to take a 2-0 lead in the NLDS.

The Brewers won even though Zack Greinke gave up three homers in his first ever postseason start.  Paul Goldschmidt, Chris Young and Justin Upton took the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner deep, and Greinke was pulled having allowed four runs in five innings.

It was a tie game at that point.  Ryan Braun homered in the first to give the Brewers an early 2-0 lead, and two more runs followed in the third when Prince Fielder singled in Braun and Rickie Weeks followed with an RBI triple.

The big rally came in the sixth off Diamondbacks reliever Brad Ziegler. Ziegler took over from starter Daniel Hudson with a man on second and one out and proceeded to issue a balk, walk Yuniesky Betancourt and make a throwing error on Jonathan Lucroy’s safety squeeze. The Brewers then called in lefty Mark Kotsay as a pinch-hitter, but manager Kirk Gibson opted to stick with Ziegler and issue an intentional walk to load the bases.  Three straight singles followed, making it a 9-4 game, and it was only afterwards that Ziegler was removed.

That proved to be the end of the scoring for the day. Takashi Saito, LaTroy Hawkins, Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford all contributed scoreless innings in relief of Greinke.

Game 3 of the best-of-five series is scheduled for Tuesday in Arizona, with Shaun Marcum and Josh Collmenter scheduled to start. On paper, that would be a favorable matchup for the Brewers, but Collmenter pitched 14 scoreless innings against Milwaukee this season. He’ll have to keep that going for the Diamondbacks to extend the series.

Notes

– Six umpires to a postseason game, but none of them could tell that Aaron Hill’s shot off the wall in the first inning was a fair ball and should have been a double. At least Hill came back with a single afterwards, and since Zack Greinke retired the other three batters he faced, the call probably didn’t have an effect on the game. Still… instant replay, please.

Braun’s homer in the first was just ridiculous. It wasn’t hit high enough to set any distance records, but it was an absolute missile and maybe the hardest hit ball I’ve seen this year. Young took two steps in center field and then said, “Yeah, right.”

– A couple of twitterers noted that Braun appeared to miss third base scoring on Prince Fielder’s single in the third, but TBS never showed a replay. The Diamondbacks appealed and were denied.

– Greinke gave up three homers in a start for the first time since Aug. 19, 2009 against the White Sox. He had made 69 starts since.

– Young had a double and a single to go along with his homer for the Diamondbacks. He’s hit .313 with three homers and seven walks in nine career postseason games. In comparison, he’s just a .240 lifetime hitter during the regular season.

– Hill ended up reaching five times in a losing cause, going 3-for-3 with two walks.

– The theme of the series to date seems to be that Kirk Gibson has too much faith in his Diamondbacks players. Never was it more evident that when he left in Ziegler in the sixth long enough to put the game out of reach.  Now Ziegler is a very good reliever, but a balk, a walk to the usually unwalkable Betancourt and an error was a good indication that he was rattled today.  Still, rather than take him out of a 5-4 game, Gibson left him in until it was 9-4 and the contest was all but over.

Gibson is probably going to be named NL Manager of the Year once the postseason is over, but these last two days have been a disaster for him.

Mets acquire Jacob Rhame from Dodgers

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The Mets acquired right-handed reliever Jacob Rhame from the Dodgers, the team announced on Sunday. Rhame is the player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles on Friday night. He’s expected to report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.

Rhame, 24, pitched through his second Triple-A campaign with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, collecting two saves in 41 appearances and logging a 4.31 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 48 innings. While his ERA saw a sharp spike from its modest 3.29 mark in 2016 (perhaps thanks in part to a midseason DL stint due to an undisclosed injury), he’s controlling the ball better than he has in several years and has drawn some attention with a fastball that occasionally touches 98 MPH on the radar gun.

The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been at its finest over the last few weeks, ranking 16th among its major league competitors with a collective 4.50 ERA and 2.4 fWAR, but likely isn’t looking to add an extreme fly ball pitcher to its staff just yet. Until he gets his big league break, Rhame will beef up Triple-A Vegas’ relief corps alongside fellow right-handers Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard and Josh Ravin.

Cardinals and Pirates prepare to play unusual finale in first-ever MLB Little League Classic

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The Pirates and Cardinals will switch things up for Sunday’s series finale, moving from the spacious PNC Park to the renovated Minor League confines of BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field. Normally the home stadium for the Phillies’ Short-Season Single-A Williamsport Crosscutters, Historic Bowman Field will set the stage for an unusual — and unprecedented — matchup between the NL Central rivals as they take the field for the first-ever MLB Little League Baseball Classic.

The game will cap a packed day for Major League and Little League participants alike, as four Little League double-elimination games will be played in the morning and afternoon before the Pirates’ Ivan Nova and Cardinals’ Mike Leake face off at 7:00 PM ET. Despite drawing national attention, the Classic will be invitation-only, and its projected 2,366 attendees will comprise the lowest capacity attendance figure in Major League history.

The event is designed to spark more interest in the sport, especially among young players, and Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny called it “grassroots marketing at its finest.” “We all fell in love with the game and started dreaming about playing on a field like this at the age of these kids we’re going to go see in Williamsport,” he told reporters prior to Sunday’s game. “I hope there are some kids that we can encourage and maybe give a different look of the game and create some lifelong baseball fans that might not have been there otherwise.”

Judging by the excitement that infused the pregame festivities among the players, it looks like they’re already on the right track.