Coming into the eighth inning of Wednesday’s game against the San Diego Padres, the Milwaukee Brewers held a 6-5 lead. With just six outs remaining, it seemed like a safe bet that the Padres were done scoring, considering San Diego entered the game averaging just over three runs a game; then the eighth inning happened. Facing a three-game sweep, the mighty Padres’ scored eight runs on nine hits to take a 13-6 lead over the Brewers.
The frame started with Mitch Stetter versus Brad Hawpe in a lefty-on-lefty matchup. Hawpe — who entered the game as a pinch-hitter – pulled a slider into right field for a lead-off single. With the right-handed bats of Chris Denorfia, Jason Bartlett, and Jorge Cantu due up, Ron Roenicke made a move to the bullpen for Kameron Loe. Roenicke’s choice was rooted in sound process especially since Loe has earned a 3.07 FIP/3.17xFIP against right-handed batters since he joined the Brewers’ bullpen in 2010. On the other hand, the results were disastrous.
In a span of five pitches, Loe allowed back-to-back singles up the middle to Denorfia and Bartlett. The single by Bartlett scored Hawpe to tie the game at 6-6. Playing to gain the lead, Will Venable pinch-hit for Cantu and put down a sacrifice bunt. He was successful in his attempt, moving Bartlett and Denforia into scoring position with one out. Instead of pitching to switch-hitting Chase Headley from the left side, Loe issued an intentional walk to load the bases.
Cameron Maybin walked to the plate with three hits on the afternoon; however, he came into the contest with a .287 wOBA versus right-handers in 115 plate appearance this season. With Loe’s sinker – and a force play at each base – the matchup leaned in Milwaukee’s favor. Although the advantage belonged to Loe, Maybin hit a bases-clearing double down the third-base line passed a diving Casey McGehee.
Maybin’s fourth hit of the game changed the win expectancy by more than 25%. Although they had played somewhat conservative with the sacrifice bunt, the Padres busted open the inning open soon after. Unfortunately for the Brewers, San Diego was only halfway done.
With Maybin on second and Ryan Ludwick coming up, Roenicke lifted Loe for another righty – Mike McClendon. In his brief big league career, McClendon owns a solid strikeout rate without overpowering stuff. The free-swinging Ludwick strikes out in a quarter of his plate appearances and will expand the zone at times. On the first pitch of the at-bat, McClendon left an 88 MPH fastball letter high. Ludwick deposited the offering to right-center field for his fifth home run of the season.
Following Rob Johnson’s strikeout, San Diego would rattle off four consecutive singles including hits by Hawpe, Denorfia, and Bartlett – the second hit of the inning for each batter. The back-to-back-to-back-to-back hits resulted in two more runs for the Padres, giving them eight for the inning. The eight-run outburst accounts for 6% of the total runs scored by the ball club this season. The 13 runs overall makes up nearly 10% of the season total.
Scoring runs has been a difficult task for Bud Black’s club. And today’s effort is unlikely to spark an offensive revival. Meanwhile, putting up a touchdown and punching in the two-point conversion in one inning had to feel nice for a team that has already been shutout eight times in 2011.