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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

A Brief Cactus League Stop – March 5

Due to some odd circumstances, I am back at Hohokam Stadium on Saturday, this time to see the Milwaukee Brewers take on the Oakland Athletics.

Milwaukee’s starting pitcher for the day is Jimmy Nelson, whose 2015 ended with a liner to the head incurred during the September 17 game against the Cardinals. The right-hander is the Brewers’ number one starter.

In terms of prospects, the top players are in Milwaukee’s lineup in shortstop Orlando Arcia, right fielder Domingo Santana and left fielder Rymer Liriano.

A former Memphis Redbird (2010) in lefty Rich Hill made the start for Oakland. Hill escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first, but did not fare so well in the second. Leading off the frame, Liriano tripled into the right field corner. A big man, Liriano reached standing up. Ex-Cards infield prospect Colin Walsh drove him in on an infield ground out on a play that ended Hill’s day. Liriano then doubled to deepest center in the fourth to drive in Milwaukee’s second run. He is another good-looking young player.

Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, apparently healthy after an injury-plagued 2015, doubled off Hill in the first and again off A’s prospect Liam Hendriks in the third.

Nelson finished his two innings having allowed no hits and a walk. Looked good.

Former Royals first baseman Billy Butler plated two for the A’s in the home fourth off Brewers reliever Corey Knebel. Over the winter, some thought Knebel could compete for the closer’s job.

Ex-Cardinals reliever Michael Blazek ran into big trouble in the fifth, allowing Oakland’s lead run before leaving with none out and the bases loaded. One came home on a wild pitch and the other two scored on a single. In other words, all four batters he faced scored as the A’s took a 6-2 edge. Blazek was traded to the Brewers at the 2014 deadline for John Axford.

By this point, with the game just over half done and over two hours elapsed, the wholesale lineup changes had fully taken effect.

The game got interesting again in the eighth as Milwaukee scored four runs on a three-run blast by former White Sox first baseman Andy Wilkins and a solo shot by former Pirates outfielder Alex Presley. That brought the A’s to within 7-6.

The Brewers took their first and only lead of the day with two out in the top of the ninth when second baseman Yadiel Rivera blasted a two-run homer over the left field wall to make the score 8-7.

The victim was A’s minor leaguer Dylan Covey. The right-hander had been Milwaukee’s first-rounder in 2010, but was not signed when it was learned he had Type 1 diabetes.

Pinch hitter Josh Phegley took the Brewers lead away as he homered to left with two outs against reliever Hiram Burgos to tie the game at 8-8. With the A’s having used nine pitchers over nine innings and the Brewers burning seven, the two managers decided to end the game rather than play a tenth inning.

With the very long game, 3:39 in duration, the Brewers’ bus had been backed up to the right field corner with engine idling since about the fifth inning (see photo). The driver inched even closer before the very eventful ninth inning.

Attendance was 5,218 on an overcast, 80-degree afternoon.


My choice for Sunday will be to scope out two NL West powers as the Dodgers visit the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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One Response to “A Brief Cactus League Stop – March 5”

  1. JumboShrimp says:

    Blazek was very effective in 2015, a nice return for the Brewers on Axford.
    Blazek was also a fine success for cards scouting and development. 35th rounder from a Vegas high school reaches the show.

    When Hill controls his curveball, he can get people out. When he does not, it’s off to the indy leagues.

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