The Saturday night sky and Brewers-Pirates game began to make perfect sense. A theme unveiled and the three-quarter waning gibbous moon fit into my pigeon-hole theory. The chewed off section white baseball moon resembled the Brewer’s fumble defense; no longer whole, but beautiful just the same, even when they lose.
And in the end, none of this mattered anyway. Ryan Braun hit a come from behind two run home run in the top of the ninth inning, his second of the game. And it was a moon shot to dead center. My notion was ruined.
Frankie K-Rod Rodriguez threw strikes in the bottom half of the ninth and earned his 6th save of the young season and 310th of his career, tying Goose Gossge for 20th all time.
I was drained in the top of the seventh with the Brewers trailing 7-4, but I played batting order abacus anyway. If someone gets a hit, the top of the order-Gomez, Segura, Braun will bat in the ninth. Ain’t over till the number 3 hitter gets a chance to sing and swing and Braun…..
Well, he took care of it. He hit a line drive home run, just clearing the center field fence in 4.1 seconds. No arc, no mountian majesty. A bullet of Willie McCovey proportions, but the Brewers still trailed 7-5 and the Pirates back-end of the bullpen is deadly, unhittable, but the moon, the moon.
Pirates reliever Mark Melancon began his career as a New York Yankee; soaking up Mariano Rivera trickery; how to throw a cutter sawing off right-handed hitters. Melancon worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning and protected the Pirates 7-5 lead.
Enter Jason Grilli in the ninth. He reinvented himself last season; seizing an opportunity to close games with a 95 mph heater and drop out of sight slider. He struck out Carlos Gomez and had Jean Segura in the hole 0-2, but the same trailing slider that caused Gomez to swing so wildly inspired patience from Segura. He waited back and gently poked a single over the shortstop’s head.
Braun followed with a big fly. This one was majestic and decisive and he now has five home runs; all on the road. The understandable boos in Pittsburgh were louder than they were in Boston and Philly and so were Braun’s base hits. Final score Brewers 8, Pirates 7.
It wasn’t supposed to finish this way. The game began like a clone to Friday night’s 5-3 Brewer’s win when they jumped out to an early lead and then surrendered that lead with shoddy defense. But Friday, Kyle Lohse worked out of jams. He ignored the errors and buckled down; threw the right pitches, got ahead of hitters.
And Saturday, the Brewer’s defense played the same Muddy Water blues and Matt Garza is not Kyle Lohse. Garza lost his composure, fell behind hitters in the fourth inning.
Garza walked the lead off hitter-Andrew McCutchen. Pedro Alvarez followed with a tailor-made double play grounder to second base where Rickie Weeks is not home anymore. He has been relegated to pinch hitter duties, but he was in the lineup to bat against Wandy Rodriguez. Weeks was slow to the ball and it banged off his glove into right field. Jose Tabata then hit a ground ball to Aramis Ramirez. It slipped under his mitt. A walk and two sharp singles later and Garza had surrendered five runs. The inning could have been clean.
And the moon could be as predictable as the sun; rising in the east, setting in the west and never-changing shape, but it does change shape. It does. And all of us; from the announcers to the few hundred Brewer fans in Pittsburgh to bars across Milwaukee to my tv room…we all anticipated the same damn Braun two run home run in the ninth inning; so damn predictable and so damn unpredictable; almost impossible or at least improbable.
The Brewers are 13-5.