MILWAUKEE — Remember when the season-opening two-game series with the Indians in Milwaukee was snowed out? Well, the Brewers and Indians found a time to play it — today in a doubleheader.
Game 1 brought concern about possibly the team’s best arm. Game 2 brought hope about the new one.
The Brewers scored a run in each the first and third innings of the first game thanks to RBI singles by Ben Oglivie and Gorman Thomas. The team would reach on only two other hits in the game against starter Rick Sutcliffe, but it’s all they would need.
Why, you ask, was Fingers mentioned second? Why didn’t the closer finish the game? That’s the concern.
Fingers struck out the side in the eighth, but walked Mike Hargrove to lead off the top of the ninth. After Toby Harrah bunted the runner to second, Fingers threw two pitches to Al Thornton. After the second, he clutched his throwing arm and was done for the game.
Initial reaction was panic. Fingers had already missed some time recently with a sore elbow. Had it gotten worse?
“It’s a muscle in his forearm,” manager Harvey Kuenn assured us. “We’ll know more tomorrow, but it’s nothing serious.”
Certainly a relief, and hopefully Fingers won’t miss any additional time.
Pete Ladd picked up where Fingers left off and struck out the final two batters to end the game.
Game 2 was the much anticipated Brewers debut for Don Sutton, acquired near the deadline from the Houston Astros. Though he wasn’t perfect, Sutton was able to get himself out of trouble through the first eight innings.
The Brewers entered the top of the ninth with a chance to win both games at an identical 2-1 score. After retiring Toby Harrah on a foul pop-up, Thornton and Ron Hassey singled to center to put the go-ahead run on.
Hayes promptly hit a three-run home run and the Brewers weren’t able to recover.
“I’d have to say that the response and reception I received tonight had to be one of my biggest thrills in baseball,” Sutton said after the game. “I was nervous to pitch and each time I went out they made me feel twice as good.
“I wish I could have given them a ninth inning finish that merited the response.”
It’s okay, Don. You dazzled for eight innings. We saw glimmers of what is to come.
To be frank, the Crew was lucky to win one game after combining for four runs on 12 hits in the two games. It was not a performance befitting the nickname “Harvey’s Wallbangers.”
The Brewers remain 4 1/2 games up on the Red Sox and next host the California Angels for a three game series beginning tomorrow.