Brewers’ Maldonado delivers walk-off win for Mom
MILWAUKEE — Before Martin Maldonado stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 11th inning, Craig Counsell turned to Jerry Narron to offer his thoughts on the situation.
"Let’s give Martin a Mother’s Day moment," Counsell told his bench coach.
With his mother, Jeanette Valdes, in the Miller Park stands visiting from Puerto Rico, Maldonado delivered a walk-off single to give the Milwaukee Brewers a 3-2 Mother’s Day victory and a series win over the Chicago Cubs.
"It is really special," Maldonado said. "Coming through like that, especially hitting the tying homer (in the seventh inning) and getting a walk-off win, I think that’s pretty special for my mom."
After neither team scored in the eighth or ninth inning, Ryan Braun led off the bottom of the 11th with a double to the right-center field gap off Cubs reliever Jason Motte.
The Cubs then opted to intentionally walk Adam Lind to face Khris Davis, who flew out to center just deep enough to allow Braun to tag to third with just one out.
Jean Segura was then intentionally walked to load the bases for Maldonado. But before Maldonado’s at-bat, Cubs manager Joe Maddon summoned left fielder Chris Coghlan into the infield.
Playing Coghlan where the second baseman normally plays, Chicago’s five-man infield put three players between second and third and completely vacated left field.
"I think we’d probably do it too in that situation," Counsell said of the five-man infield. "I think that’s what you have to do. A ball in the air is most likely a sac fly. You have to try to keep the ball on the infield."
It didn’t matter in the end, as Maldonado drove a 1-1 fastball from Motte over the head of Cubs right fielder Jorge Soler for a long walk-off single.
"Especially when you have a guy throwing fastball-slider, I was looking for something up to put in the air," Maldonado said. "You’ve got Brauny on third base. He’s fast and is going to score."
After hitting .190 in the first 14 games as Milwaukee’s starting catcher with Jonathan Lucroy on the disabled list with a fractured toe, Maldonado is 5 for 15 (.333), including a 3-for-5 afternoon Sunday that raised his season average to .197.
"I think Martin — he has some power," Counsell said. "He’s going to hit some mistakes out for home runs. He’s going to give you good at-bats. It has been a little less than three weeks. We have to give guys chances here. We’re not going to make decisions real quickly. He’s starting to have some good at-bats."
The Brewers appeared to set starter Matt Garza up for a win when Maldonado and Elian Herrera connected on back-to-back home runs off left-hander Zac Rosscup to take a 2-1 lead in the seventh.
But Chicago fought back to tie the game in the eighth on Anthony Rizzo’s two-out RBI double off Will Smith.
Milwaukee didn’t put a runner on base in the eighth, ninth or 10th, but relievers Francisco Rodriguez, Jeremy Jeffress and Michael Blazek each pitched scoreless innings to get the game to the 11th.
The Brewers have now won seven of their last 11 games and have two series wins over the Cubs in the last week.
"It is impressive that we keep fighting," Garza said. "We’re not quitting. We’re still coming. It is awesome. It is a great team win. We’re going to start surprising people. We have to keep playing clean baseball like we have been.
"We’ve been waiting for ourselves to come. I think we’re on our way."
Maldonado’s game-winning single came nearly nine years to the day when Bill Hall hit an 10th inning walk-off home run to send the Brewers to a Mother’s Day victory over the New York Mets.
Although Maldonado wasn’t using a pink bat, he was able to share his big day with his mother.
"I saw her when I hit the homer," Maldonado said. "I looked over and she was jumping around. We have a great dinner later tonight. I think I’ll enjoy that more than the game."
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