MINNEAPOLIS — Heading into today’s game, the last time the Brewers lost was on July 8 to the Minnesota Twins. Guess it was only fitting that those same Twins would be the team to end the eight-game winning streak that took place in between.
After the first at bat, there was a sense that this game may not go the Brewers’ way. Paul Molitor lined a rocket into center that Twins outfielder Bobby Mitchell chased after. He took the risk of diving for it at full extension. It’s a risk in this situation because if Mitchell misses and the ball gets by him, it was a likely inside-the-park home run. Instead, Mitchell made a magnificent catch and Molitor was the first out of the game.
“If there was ever an omen for what my night was going to be like that was it,” said Molitor. The worst was yet to come for him.
Brewers spot starter Jerry Augustine was cruising through the Twins lineup into the third inning. Seven up, seven down. Then Lenny Faedo hit a grounder that spun out of Molitor’s glove and reached first on the error. Juan Castino then grounded into what should have been the inning-ending out. But thanks to Molitor’s miscue, there were only two down with a runner on.
Augustine then walked Mitchell and DH Dave Engle rolled another grounder Molitor’s way. The third basemen again misplayed the ball, and the bases were loaded with two outs. Tom Brunansky then launched a drive to center reminiscent of Molitor’s first inning drive. Gorman Thomas attempted to play the part of Bobby Mitchell in center. He dived, but the ball got by him and to the wall.
“If [Thomas] catches that ball,” Brunansky told the Milwaukee Sentinel, “the game’s over and they win it.”
Instead, it was an inside-the-park grand slam for Brunansky. A play that never would have happened if not for one Molitor error, but he made two. That inning was the story of the game.
Augustine would pitch well enough to win, allowing only two earned runs in eight innings. The Brewers would score four runs, three thanks to two home runs by Robin Yount. But because of that one inning — and ultimately because of Molitor — the streak ended today.
It’s tough to be too hard on a player like Molitor, who by all accounts is having a good season with a .289 batting average. But it’s moments like these that give Brewers fans flashbacks to the “old Brewers” of only a couple of months ago that couldn’t get out of their own way in the field.
For now, we’ll chalk it up to a bad day. A new day is tomorrow.
Game Notes: Jim Gantner, who continued his hot hitting with three base hits today, was named AL Player of the Week. Now hitting .346, his average is high enough to lead the league but he does not have enough at bats to qualify.