It was there for the taking. The Milwaukee Brewers could have ended a disappointing road trip on a high note by winning the series in St. Louis with a victory Sunday afternoon.
Down 4-2 in the seventh inning, the Brewers set themselves up perfectly for a much-needed big inning by loading the bases with nobody out for the National League’s leading hitter with Ryan Braun to follow.
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They were going to at least tie the game, right?
Not the way things are currently going. Jean Segura popped out to first base and Braun hit into a double play, ending the inning with no damage. The Brewers wouldn’t score again and fell 4-2 to the Cardinals, ending the road trip at 2-8.
“We had the guys in the right place and the people in the right situations to drive them in and more than one opportunity,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “(It was the) same thing. They came through with big hits and we didn’t. It’s the same thing. They understand how to drive in runs.”
The Cardinals are one of the best teams in baseball at executing offensively to score runs, and they always seem to find a way to deliver against the Brewers.
St. Louis capitalized when it had its opportunities with runners on base in the 4th inning against Kyle Lohse. With two on and one out, Yadier Molina just snuck a groundball past Segura and up the middle to score the first run of the game. A couple of inches to the left and the ball was an inning-ending double play.
Jon Jay followed with a double to score another run, while David Freese plated another with a single to right. Pete Kozma then executed a perfect squeeze and the Cardinals led 4-0. Instead of scoring runs by bashing the ball out of the park, St. Louis has bludgeoned Milwaukee this season by singling them to death.
Roenicke thought Lohse threw the ball really well, but was hurt by a couple of mistakes and St. Louis finding holes when hitting good pitches.
“They hit the ball hard and find holes,” Roenicke said. “They do both of them, and there’s not much you can do. We got a couple of breaks yesterday but not many today. It’s the same story. It’s frustrating. And they are going to hit balls hard, they can really hit, but it’s frustrating when you make a good pitch and you think you got guys out and they are hits.”
What’s the difference in a team being able to continuously capitalize on scoring chances and one that struggles to take advantage of opportunities?
“It’s a type of hitter,” Roenicke said. “Some of it is experience, but it’s the type of hitter. It’s understanding what to do when you have people out there in scoring position and what a pitcher is trying to do to you. It’s talent too. The biggest thing is talent.”
Failure to execute again cost the Brewers a win on what will be remembered as a forgettable road trip. Now sitting eight games under .500 and 10 1/2 games out of first place, Milwaukee returns home for an eight game homestand against Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Minnesota.
The Brewers lost five full games in the standings on the trip, one of the worst in recent memory.
“It’s a tough one,” Roenicke said. “Some of the games we were in that I thought we should have won. But we didn’t play well overall. I thought we played a good series here. Had an opportunity to get close and get back in the game in the first game but didn’t do much in the last three innings. Then (there was) the tough one yesterday that we won. Then today, when you have ‘Siggy’, ‘Braunie’ and (Carlos) Gomez coming to the plate and you need hits, you feel pretty good about what’s going to happen. It didn’t turn out that way.”