MILWAUKEE — An mess game became an ugly game, and is rapidly sliding toward the makings of a costly, painful loss.
But it's not without some drama.
Mike Shildt and catcher Yadier Molina have both had animated conversations in the later innings here as Milwaukee thundered away for a 18-3 shellacking Tuesday at Miller Park. The loss left the Cardinals with welts—physically, mentally, and in the box score. Molina left the game after catching a few innings with a possibly injured hand. He told a team official he did not have any answers on his condition.
Jack Flaherty shouldered nine runs allowed on eight hits in three innings.
Shildt was clearly furious during the incident that got him ejected.
The biggest brouhaha of the game came in the fifth inning after Braun's bat clipped Yadier Molina's mitt and sent the catcher reeling away from home plate in obvious pain. Manager Mike Shildt, trailed by a trainer, reached Molina as he cradled his left hand. At some point while he was leaning over Molina, Shildt pivoted and stalked toward the Brewers dugout. He appeared to have heard a comment from the Brewers' dugout that also caught the ear of former Cardinal Jedd Gyorko.
Gyorko acted quickly to intercept Shildt as the Cardinals' manager shouted into the opponents' dugout. Every player on the field gravitated toward the entry to the Brewers' dugout, and eventually the bullpens would clear, too.
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Shildt's fury was clear at the field, and in photos.
Even with Gyorko near the top step of the Brewers' dugout, Shildt pressed toward it.
At one point, Molina had regrouped and joined the cluster of players to get between Shildt and the Brewers. Pitching coach Mike Maddux also joined Gyorko as a buffer. The only incident – which violated all sorts of COVID-19-related social distancing protocols – resulted in the ejection of Shildt and Brewers manager Craig Counsell. No players were bounced as a result, and much to the surprise of several Cardinals Molina remained in the game.
He was still flexing and looking at his left hand as Shildt and teammate Matt Carpenter approached him to talk about yielding to Matt Wieters.
Wieters had his gear on, was standing near home plate.
That Molina stayed proved important later on as he had an animated conversation with home plate umpire John Bacon as rookie Nabil Crismatt finished his warmup. It was not immediately clear the precise issue that Molina had, though it is possible that Crismatt had his warmup pitches cut short. The rookie waved as if to start the inning, end the discussion and insisted he was ready to pitch. The discussion between Molina and Bacon brought Maddux, bench coach Oliver Marmol, and other umpires over before the inning could begin.
Crismatt did what the previous pitchers in the game could not – keep Milwaukee from batting through its order in an inning.
The Brewers have batted around in the fourth and fifth innings against the Cardinals and scored 13 runs total in that stretch.
They've bounced starter Flaherty from the game, chewed up long reliever Jake Woodford, expelled reliever Rob Kaminsky, and now brought Crismatt into the game. The Cardinals still have six outs to cover in the game and are starting to run out of pitchers if they want a full complement for the doubleheader on Wednesday.
Not all losses are created equal.
This one traces back to Flaherty's trouble with the Brewers.
Milwaukee greeted the Cardinals' opening day starter with nine runs on eight hits and two walks. The Brewers hit back to back homers off the righthander in the first inning, and that was but a flesh wound compared to what came in the fourth inning. Flaherty did not record an out, and yet he allowed five of the runs in the inning.
In his last 33 1/3 innings against the Brewers, he's allowed 30 earned runs.
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