Chase Anderson could only shake his head afterward and wonder what might have been after just having watched the Milwaukee Brewers’ offense nearly pull off a miraculous ninth-inning comeback at Miller Park on a steamy Sunday afternoon.
Had things broken just a little differently for him, and had the bullpen tightened down just a bit more after he’d departed, the story line would have been about the lift the team received from its biggest late-inning comeback of the season.
Instead, it was about a disappointing 10-9 loss to a Philadelphia Phillies team that battled back from a 13-2 drubbing Friday to capture the final two games and the series.
“I wanted to hold their offense down but really wasn’t able to do that,” Anderson said. “Our guys kept fighting back and it was really about how our team responded offensively.
“If we could have done just a little better in the pitching department, we’d probably have gotten a win today. It was very unfortunate.”
Coming off his best start of the season – a seven-inning, one-hit shutout of the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday – Anderson turned in arguably his worst.
In 5 1/3 innings, the right-hander allowed five hits, a season-high six runs (all earned) and two walks with five strikeouts. He also surrendered two home runs after having not allowed any in his previous three starts.
Anderson was in a hole from the outset after allowing a single to César Hernández on his very first pitch and a two-run homer to Rhys Hoskins on his third.
It upped Anderson’s first-inning earned run average to 8.36 over 13 starts compared to 3.64 outside of the first.
“That’s a good question,” Anderson said when asked about his early struggles in games. “I don’t know. I’ve done certain things in my bullpens. Mindset-wise I feel like I’m in a good spot. I don’t know.
“It’s just one of those deals. That’s kind of been my thing since I was a kid. Obviously I need to correct it and work on it and get better at getting guys out quicker. Something to work on.”
The Brewers battled back with single runs in the first and third innings to tie it against tough right-hander Aaron Nola, only to see the Phillies get to Anderson again in the fourth.
This time it was a one-out walk issued to Carlos Santana that came back to bite Anderson, as longtime Brewer killer Maikel Franco followed with a homer to left that put Philadelphia’s lead back at two runs.
Anderson has allowed 15 homers through 77 1/3 innings compared to 14 in 141 1/3 for all of last season.
He rebounded to strike out the side in the fifth, and an RBI double from Travis Shaw and an RBI single from Jesús Aguilar got Anderson back to even at 4-4.
But Anderson gave up a one-out double and walk in the sixth before being pulled for Jeremy Jeffress.
“He got burned by a couple of homers today,” said manager Craig Counsell. “That was the big part about the outing. In between that, he did a nice job. But the thing that’s gotten him this year got him in trouble today again.”
Jeffress started by walking Franco, then a two-RBI single by Nick Williams made it 6-4.
A Christian Yelich RBI sacrifice fly cut it to 6-5 in the bottom half. Then Franco got to Taylor Williams for a two-out, two-RBI single in the seventh – snapping a streak of nine straight scoreless outings by the rookie.
Philadelphia added single runs eighth and ninth against an ill Adrian Houser and Corey Knebel, respectively, leaving the score at 10-5 heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Then the fireworks began.
Aguilar led off with a homer to left off Hector Neris. Jonathan Villar singled and Hernán Pérez doubled. Manny Piña popped out and Ryan Braun struck out, bringing Eric Thames to the plate.
He responded by booming his second homer of the game to right, narrowing the gap to 10-9 and prompting a Phillies pitching change.
“Just A, don’t cramp and B, get a good pitch to hit,” Thames said when asked what he was thinking in the at-bat. His homers Sunday were his first since April 18.
“It was a long day for all of us; we were all out there crushing water non-stop and electrolytes. But for me, just getting a good pitch to hit. Neris is a good pitcher with a good split and a good fastball.
“I just put the barrel on the ball.”
Left-hander Jake Thompson came on to face Yelich, who’d already been on base three times on the day. He sent Thompson’s first offering to deep center, only to see Odubel Herrera – who’d homered in the previous inning off Knebel – track it down with a leaping catch to end it.
“We thought he went deep with just the way it looked off the bat,” said Thames. “Odubel made a great catch. That’s just the way the team’s been playing all year, and it’s exciting to be a part of that. We didn’t really give up. It was like tie game, down two, kept fighting and fighting.
“We were close to tying that game. It’s a game of inches.”
The Brewers out-hit the Phillies, 13-12, but went 3 for 16 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on.
“We put together a great inning in the ninth,” Counsell said. “We made them work hard for it.”