Lost ball in the sun changes game for Brewers
By ANDREW GRUMAN
Certain times of the year, during day games, the sun makes fly balls an adventure at Nationals Park.
Sunday afternoon it burned the Nationals as a pair of sun lost fly balls fell, aiding the Brewers.
Monday afternoon the sun figured it would get even.
Down 2-1 in the fourth inning, Marco Estrada appeared to have secured the last out of the inning on a routine fly ball to center off the bat of Jayson Werth, but Carlos Gomez lost it in the sun.
Two runs scored on the play, Ryan Zimmerman followed with a three-run homer and a close game turned into a rout.
"Really the fly ball in the sun was the difference," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "It helped us yesterday on a couple balls, but they got five runs because of it today. If that ball is caught it is still a 2-1 game."
Nationals' officials have raised concerns about afternoon games this time of year, especially with the playoffs coming up.
Roenicke knew right off the bat that Werth's fly ball was going to be trouble.
"As soon as the ball went up, he was ten feet off," Roenicke said of Gomez. "I was watching the ball where it was and you could tell he was offline.
"There's nothing you can do. They lost two yesterday, there are things you can do to keep it out of the sun, but sometimes there is nothing you can do."
Estrada could have gotten out of the inning even before Werth came to the plate. He had two outs with the opposing pitcher at the plate.
He hung a curveball and Wisconsin native Jordan Zimmermann made him pay, lining a base hit to center, scoring Washington's second run.
Roenicke then saw his right-hander lose focus following the ball lost in the sun.
"Yeah I do," Roenicke said when asked if he thought Estrada lost confidence. "Just made some pitches that he hadn't been making and lost his command. When he loses his command, he gets hit pretty hard."
In the blink of an eye, what appeared to be headed for a close game, one the Brewers badly needed, turned into an ugly rout.
Relievers Kameron Loe and Manny Parra struggled to limit the damage, as Loe gave up two runs in just 1/3 of an inning, while Parra was hit for three runs in two innings.
"The rest of the game we didn't play well," Roenicke said. "We didn't pitch well, we didn't play well."
The Brewers must put Monday behind themselves fast, as they are running out of time. Milwaukee will be 3.5 games out of the second Wild Card if Houston can't beat St. Louis later Monday night.