Thanks to heroics in the ninth and 10th on both sides of the ball, the Milwaukee Brewers stole a win from the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, 4-3, capping off a four-game series sweep of the American League playoff contender and providing a desperately needed boost with a plane ride to St. Louis ahead.
Tellez clubbed a game-tying blast in the ninth, then made a huge defensive play in the 10th that set the table for Willy Adames to knock a walk-off single in the bottom half.
"It shows we have fight in us," Tellez said. "It was a stretch there where we weren’t playing too well. I think we got a little comfortable, and the Cardinals just really put the pressure on us. We need to step it up. These two wins against another team that’s competing for a position in the playoffs was big for us.”
BOX SCORE: Brewers 4, Rays 3 (10 innings)
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) August 10, 2022
The Cardinals and Brewers will start a three-game series Friday; Milwaukee entered Wednesday one game back of St. Louis for the National League Central.
"Obviously we are going to play some really good teams this last month and a half and we know we have to be better," said Adames, whose single through the left side with nobody out plated Tyrone Taylor with the winning run. "That’s what we’re trying to do now. We’re going to go to St. Louis and try to play at our highest level and try to win the series."
Rowdy Tellez comes up big for Brewers with ninth inning home run
Leading off the ninth inning, Tellez took left-hander Colin Poche out to center for his 23rd home run of the year and only his third blast against a southpaw this season.
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) August 10, 2022
"I played against him a couple of times; I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a hit," Tellez said. "I think I’d struck out every single time. I check swung on a breaking ball. On that 3-2 count, I really just wanted to see something up in the zone and I was just trying to hit a ball the other way, hit a line drive, just get on base to start off the inning, but I was able to put a good swing on it, the ball carried out. It was one of those things where it kind of everything aligned. I prepare in those situations just to put good swings on the ball.”
The Brewers, who hadn't scored since plating two two-out runs in the first inning, suddenly found themselves tied with the Rays, 3-3.
Tellez then fielded the first pitch of the 10th, a crisp grounder off the bat of Taylor Walls, and hurled across the diamond to easily get Francisco Mejía, who opened the frame as the automatic runner on second base.
"I just looked up and (Mejía) was a ways away," Tellez said. "He actually runs pretty well for a catcher, so I knew I had to make a good throw, and I was able to do that. Good for Wicho (Luis Urías) to cover. We had a good game all around, I think, defensively. Our bats lacked a little bit, but we liked to have a little fun at the end.”
Victor Caratini then threw out Walls trying to steal, part of a masterful defensive performance for the Brewers in the two-game series, before Devin Williams struck out Jose Siri to end the inning.
"He's doing a great job of it," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of Caratini's work behind the plate as essentially the lone catcher with Omar Narváez injured and young Mario Feliciano as more of an emergency backup. "More than anything, this is a situation where, ‘Are you mentally ready for it?’ When you get physically tired, you get mentally tired, and close games like that, to keep going and keep understanding every pitch is a huge pitch. Victor is really, really good at it, and that's why he's capable of doing this."
Willy Adames delivers in extra innings
The Rays intentionally walked Christian Yelich leading off the 10th, and Adames, who had struck out in his three previous at-bats against his former team, singled against Ryan Thompson through the left side.
"It's a gut feel, a little bit, but I think it's one of those things when you go into the inning thinking that they're probably going to walk Christian, I always think that does something for the hitter," Counsell said. "It means they want to face you, and I just think that gives you a little bit of extra. You're having a tough day but you have a shot to win the game, and it's a brand new at-bat and a brand new game."
Adames delivered, and the Brewers head to St. Louis with a head of steam that mitigates the team's six losses in the previous seven games.
Brandon Woodruff efficient in his start but allows rare home runs
Brandon Woodruff was efficient through seven complete innings, needing only 85 pitches to get there. Nonetheless, he left the game on the hook for the loss, but the rally meant the Brewers had swept all four games against the Rays this year and moved the Brewers to 13-4 in interleague play this year.
"They hadn't seen me the first time at their place," Woodruff said, referring to his start against the Rays in Tampa Bay earlier this year. "Coming into today, they know I like to use my fastball. They came out swinging and I was able to get some quick outs, but I think they kind of made the point that they were going to swing early.
"Really, honestly, getting through the fifth, I didn't kind of know where my pitch count was, and then I glanced up and thought, 'Holy moly, they're really swinging.' So I was in a good spot, pitch count wise."
The early returns were positive when the Brewers plated runs on bloop singles from Mike Brosseau and Keston Hiura to make it 2-0 in the first.
Tampa Bay got back into it with a two-out David Peralta single in the third and then tied it on Yu Chang's leadoff homer in the fifth. Randy Arozarena then tagged Woodruff for a 431-foot homer with one down in the seventh to plate the go-ahead run.
Woodruff only allowed four hits in seven innings and didn't issue a walk, but three of the hits were for extra bases and two were home runs — the first home runs he's allowed since returning from the injured list in late June. All told, that's 45 ⅓ innings before allowing a home run and a stretch of 46 ⅔ dating back to before his hamstring issue and subsequent battle with Raynaud's Syndrome.
Woodruff cited his defense as making it possible.
"As a starting pitcher, you're trying to get as deep as you can in the game, and you need plays like that behind you to do that," Woodruff said. "So, if we're playing defense like that, it's just get up there and throw the ball to the plate, and let your defense work."
Led by Tyrone Taylor, Brewers' defense shines again vs. the Rays
Taylor, who robbed Peralta of a home run Tuesday, made two excellent catches in center field, including a running snag in dead center against Peralta to open the game. He also made a diving catch in the fifth. Hiura also made an outstretched diving play to record an out at first base in the fourth.
Brad Boxberger only recorded one out in the eighth before loading the bases and getting replaced by Hoby Milner, who struck out Tampa Bay's 3-4 hitters of Brandon Lowe and Isaac Paredes to preserve the score. Milner has allowed just 3 of 27 inherited runners to score this season.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Rowdy Tellez, Willy Adames help Brewers get extra-inning win vs. Rays