SEATTLE — It’s down to Julio Rodriguez for Bryce Wilson, a Mariners star versus Brewers long man who has never been in extra innings with a runner on second base, period.
Wilson had no options but to fill in the strike zone. It was the 11th inning, the bases loaded and the Brewers held on to one inning after seeing another one-run lead slip away. Wilson won the battle, and the Brewers won the game 6-5 over the Mariners on a cold Tuesday night at T-Mobile Park.
The best player in baseball during nearly three weeks of the regular season has done it again.
“I had one idea in mind,” Wilson said. “I really jammed him on the sinker for his last jab, so I would eventually come back to that. And that’s what I did.”
Rodriguez hit the guard to short-run Willie Adams, who gave the Brewers a scoring lead in the top of the 11th for his third game of the night. Adames occupied second base in the final game, and the Brewers posted a sixth win in the first nine games of this long road trip west, with a chance to sweep the Mariners on Wednesday afternoon.
Milwaukee is 13-5 overall on the strength of a surprisingly strong bullpen, which added six more innings without an earned run and topped the Majors with a 1.91 ERA. This is a surprise, there is no way around it.
“They were great, and if there was a better word for that night, they were,” said Brewers manager Craig Counsell.
The Brewers have turned in plenty of their relief teams over the past year or so, from the surefire trio of Brad Boxberger in the seventh, Devin Williams in the eighth and Josh Hader in the ninth to Williams in the ninth…and a whole field of favorites vying for spots prominent around it.
Many of them figured in Tuesday’s victory. Hobie Milner, the only left-hander, delivered four spurts. Joel Byamps — perhaps overshadowed because he came to the Brewers in the shadow of catcher William Contreras in an offseason trade — has already filled in for Williams at times when needed, and he delivered two outs on Tuesday. Not only did Matt Bush keep the ball in the yard in the eighth inning, he struck out all three batters he faced. And Williams got all of his three with a knockout in a typical ninth electric race.
“We have guys with great things and everyone is capable of being great,” said Bush.
It meant extra innings and an opportunity for Wilson, a former Braves and Pirates outfielder who surrendered an unearned run in an action-packed tenth inning before holding the Mariners out of the plate in the eleventh inning for the win.
“Look, those extra innings when that guy starts second, that’s a tough role for pitchers,” Counsell said. “It’s always a do-or-die situation. There’s a hustle right away. It’s from the first pitch, the game is on the line, and Price did a good job.”
“I’m enjoying it,” Wilson said. “I’m able to get out and the mentality is just to hit every pitch I can hard. There’s no preparation for hitters for their next bat throughout the order. I just want to go out and attack every hitter, which is probably a mentality I would have started with.”
As a group, homebrew painkillers do it a little differently. Even with Bosh and Williams stacking up for the strike Tuesday, the Milwaukee team finished 27th out of 30 teams with a strike rate of 20%.
“Everyone is just worried about doing their job, whatever that may be,” said Christian Yelich, who opened the night with his fifth career-leading homer and finished with three hits. “We’re trying to build some momentum.”
They seem to have it. The Brewers won twice in extra innings on this road trip. On Tuesday, they went 2-for-2 scoring on the free runner–and that in the 10th thanks to the athleticism of rookie center fielder Garrett Mitchell, who had to run back to third base after slipping out of the bag, then left the game in the bottom of that inning after Opening a home throw. He has a left shoulder injury and will be checked out when the Brewers return to Milwaukee.
“There are a few plays, a few situations in every game that determine the outcome,” said Yelich. Who can do the best [wins]. You won’t always succeed, but you want to give yourself the best chance.
“The guys do a really good job of not trying to be anything more than themselves. We obviously have 26 guys going in the same direction.”
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