The Milwaukee Brewers won game two in the sixth inning. If 666 is the number of the beast, then 6 is the inning of the beast mode.
After Zack Greinke — who alternated between excellent and putrid, with three home runs too much putrid — received a quick hook in the sixth inning, it was up to Takashi Saito to hold serve in a 4-4 game. Saito, in my opinion, has had a massively under-celebrated career. In six career big-league seasons (after racking up 87 victories, 48 saves, and a 3.80 record in 14 NPB seasons), Saito has recorded an ERA of 2.18 and hasn’t ever posted a single-season ERA above 3.00. His FIP is a solid 2.65 and he owns a tremendous 3.8 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Saito did his job despite giving up a one-out double to Chris Young (which arguably could have been caught by Nyjer Morgan in center field), inducing a weak tapper in front of the plate from Ryan Roberts and then striking out Gerardo Parra with a barrage of high fastballs. It was a key inning for Milwaukee, who needed to bridge the gap to Francisco Rodriguez in the eighth inning and couldn’t necessarily count on any quick offense with Jerry Hairston Jr. and the bottom of the lineup coming up.
The operative word there being “necessarily.” Dan Hudson — who struggled early but then managed to invoke the “settling down” narrative by the sixth — threw his last pitch to Hairston on a 2-1 count, an 84 MPH changeup the 35-year-old journeyman roped into left field for a double. Brad Ziegler came in, promptly balked Hairston to third (seen at 0:20 in this video), and unraveled.
In fact, this image could be next to “unravel” in the dictionary:
After the walk to Betancourt, Jonathan Lucroy executed a perfect squeeze bunt to take the 5-4 lead, eliciting memories of a game-winning squeeze bunt against the Giants in May. The Brewers wouldn’t look back.
Ziegler, a right-handed specialist, remained in the game, and with Ron Roenicke choosing to pinch-hit the left-handed Mark Kotsay for Saito’s spot in the order, Kirk Gibson ordered the intentional walk to load the bases. Unfortunately for the Diamondbacks, Ziegler appeared shaken by the balk. Sidearm specialists thrive on movement, and Ziegler was beaten on three very flat pitches against Corey Hart, Nyjer Morgan, and Ryan Braun. By the time Gibson finally threw in the towel and brought in Joe Paterson, the Brewers had a 9-4 lead.
The bullpen finished the job and the Brewers will head to Arizona with a 2-0 series lead — the only one of the first round. Unlike Saturday, Sunday wasn’t a model game for Milwaukee, but the Brewers took the opportunities they were presented and escaped with what turned out to be a huge win after a scare in the middle game. Now, the Brewers get a chance to close it out in the desert with two favorable matchups: Shaun Marcum against Josh Collmenter on Tuesday, and if necessary, Randy Wolf against Joe Saunders on Wednesday.