The Cardinals sent the Brewers to their ninth straight loss with a 3-2 victory this evening at Miller Park. They have now won six in a row and own a four-game lead over Milwaukee in the National League Central.
The Cardinals got on the board first with a two-run single from Yadier Molina against Wily Peralta in the first inning. Kolten Wong added an RBI single in the third, which stood up as the difference in the ballgame. Making his first start since June 17, Michael Wacha allowed one run over three innings before giving way to the bullpen. Marco Gonzales allowed a solo homer to Rickie Weeks in his 2 1/3 innings of work before Seth Maness, Carlos Martinez, Pat Neshek, and Trevor Rosenthal finished off the victory.
The Brewers left 11 men on base in this one, so they had their share of chances, but the Cardinals held firm thanks to some excellent outfield defense. Jon Jay made a pair of excellent catches to rob Khris Davis of run-scoring hits. Peter Bourjos later added an impressive running catch on a long fly ball off the bat of Jordan Schafer in the eighth inning. It’s worth noting that the fly ball from Schafer came after a failed bunt attempt from Martin Maldonado with two on and nobody out, which would have moved a runner over to third base. It was that kind of night for the Brewers.
As Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes, the Brewers led the National League Central by 1 1/2 games before the start of their losing streak. They now find themselves tied with the Braves for the second Wild Card spot.
The Brewers and Cardinals will play three more games this weekend. Mike Fiers will try to stop the slide for Milwaukee tomorrow night while St. Louis will counter with John Lackey.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.