MILWAUKEE — Pulled aside by hitting coach Johnny Narron right before his at-bat to start the bottom of the 13th inning, Milwaukee Brewers rookie left fielder Caleb Gindl got the old don’t try to hit a home run speech.
Gindl heeded the advice and drove a 1-0 two-seam fastball from Ryan Webb to the opposite field. The ball just happened to go over the fence for Gindl’s first career home run, giving Milwaukee a 1-0 victory and a series sweep over Miami.
The home run was the first to end a 0-0 game in the 13th inning or later since Alex Rodriguez hit a walk-off home run for the Yankees to beat Boston in 2009.
Gindl is also the first player in Brewers history to have his first career home run be of the walk-off variety.
“It was unbelievable,” Gindl said. “It was the best feeling of my life that’s for sure.
“I’ve never hit a walk-off homer in my life. That was the first one. Running around the bases was pretty special.”
A walk-off home run is usually followed by a mob celebration at home plate, but Gindl’s teammates gave him a bit of the silent treatment. The entire dugout took off into the tunnel, and nobody greeted Gindl as he crossed home plate.
Covered in baby powder in the clubhouse afterward, Gindl could enjoy the fun his teammates had at his expense.
“I kind of knew it was going to happen,” Gindl said. “I saw Siggy at home plate and I said ‘I guess the rest of them are in the tunnel.’ I was running up there to find them. That’s the highlight of my career.”
Getting a start with Ryan Braun out of the lineup after playing back-to-back days, Gindl hit the ball hard in all four of his at-bats, but had just a two-out double in the seventh inning to show for it.
On a day in which Miami and Milwaukee combined for just one run in 13 innings, Gindl was one of the few players to put together quality at-bats on Sunday.
“Really good day offensively from him,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “He squared up four baseballs. The liner to left, the liner to right and the one that got over the left fielder’s head. Good at-bats all day. We didn’t have a whole lot of those so it was nice to see him play well.”
In his second stint with the Brewers this season, Gindl hasn’t had an at-bat since July 13 and has just two since being recalled on July 11. It’s not easy for anybody to sit for over a week and deliver like Gindl did Sunday afternoon.
“I think the big thing for me is staying focused in BP and taking quality swings in BP and having an approach every pitch in BP,” Gindl said. “Just don’t get too pull-happy and try and hit home runs in BP.
“It pays off, just working the other way. When you see those pitches in the game you just react from working on that in BP.”
As the Marlins are stuck in a franchise-record streak of 37 innings without scoring a run, the Brewers needed to find a way to break through for one run somehow.
Milwaukee’s pitchers continued to impress and now haven’t allowed a run in a franchise-record 35 innings, giving Gindl a chance to be the hero in the 13th inning.
“He was hot when he came up here (the first time),” Roenicke said of Gindl. “He didn’t get a lot of playing time when he was here. He goes back down and gets hot right away then comes back up here with us and swings the bat great.
“For him, hopefully that keeps him at least confident for a while. It’s tough when you don’t get to start much, so hopefully that will help him as a pinch-hitter also.”