Domingo means “Born on Sunday” in Spanish, and two home runs by Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Domingo Santana in Sunday afternoon’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates secured the visitors a 10-0 victory and series sweep.
Santana’s first home run was his fifth of the season and was hit in the second inning against Pirates starter Steven Brault (0-2).
This was Brault’s lone hiccup of his outing, as he pitched five innings allowing the home run on four hits. He did walk three batters and struck out five on 84 pitches.
Brault has lost both of his major league starts to Milwaukee.
Once Brault departed after five innings, it was up to Juan Nicasio to keep the score at 1-0 Brewers, but he failed to do so.
Chris Carter has been a thorn to the Pirates side all series and led off with a double. Santana continued the seventh inning with a single.
After Nicasio struck out Manny Pina and got Scooter Gennett to foul out to John Jaso at first base, the Brewers were forced to make a choice.
Their starter Chase Anderson was throwing a shutout through five innings and had a reasonably low pitch count at 65 pitches. Still, with the bases loaded after Jake Elmore drew a nine pitch walk, and the game’s outcome in doubt, the Brewers elected to go with pinch-hitter Jonathan Villar.
“The score of the game is what dictates as much as anything,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Jake Elmore had a great at-bat just to get to that point. You have to take a shot at that.”
Villar rewarded the decision making Nicasio pay for throwing too many pitches away in the zone, hitting a fastball away to the opposite field for a grand slam. It was Villar’s first career grand slam and 12th home run of the season.
“I was ready for that pitch,” he said.
Anderson was understanding of the decision given that September call-ups left more available bullpen arms. He took the positives of his start which included no walks for just the second time since June 13, a span of 16 appearances (15 starts).
Not everything went right for the Brewers as Counsell was ejected for the second time this season. He was ejected by crew chief Brian Gorman arguing over a third inning obstruction call on a ball hit by Hernan Perez.
“In the end, I didn’t agree with the call. I didn’t think there was obstruction there,” said Counsell. “I thought that play happens a lot. The fielder has the right to go for the ball and the throw took the fielder into a lane and he wasn’t standing there, just trying to make a play on the ball. That’s not obstruction. To stop the play just rewards the other team.”
Counsell later admitted to pacing around the visitor’s clubhouse after the ejection until Villar’s sixth-inning home run.
The Brewers ensured their victory by touching Kelvin Marte up for five runs in the ninth inning.
Elmore and Yadiel Rivera both reached base to start the inning and a Sean Rodriguez error on an Orlando Arcia ground ball.
Perez then recorded a fielder’s choice which scored a run. Carter then added his 32nd home run of the season scoring another three runs.
The Pirates are the only National League Central in which Carter has even batted over .200.
Carter is a .136 hitter (6-for-44) against the Chicago Cubs, .176 (9-for-51) versus the Cincinnati Reds and a .191 hitter (9-for-47) against the St. Louis Cardinals. He is a .309 hitter against the Pirates this season with 16 hits in 54 at-bats.
Santana struck immediately following, hitting a 1-0 Marte offering for his second home run of the game and sixth of the season. This is Santana’s first career multi-homer game.
The Pirates did have six hits on offense, with one hit each of the first six innings but no one advanced past second base.
“There’s room for improvement all over the place on offense,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “You fight all year to get to this position. But this series is done with now. It’s not the result we wanted.”
This defeat gives the Pirates six consecutive losses and a 67-67 record. The last time the Pirates were at .500 was Aug. 4.
“Any time you don’t score runs, it looks like you’re pressing and it magnifies everything else when you don’t score runs,” said Hurdle.
The Pirates will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in a three-game series. The Cardinals were 5-2 winners over the Cincinnati Reds Sunday and lead the Pirates by 3.5 games for the second and final National League Wild Card spot.
In Game 1, Chad Kuhl (3-2, 3.70 ERA) will face Adam Wainwright (9-8, 4.53 ERA). The Pirates are 8-5 against the Cardinals this season and the two teams have not faced each other since Jul. 7.
Photo credit: @Pirates