Cuddyer’s double propels Rox to series win over Crew
MILWAUKEE — Bruised toe and all, Michael Cuddyer just keeps on hitting.
With two on and one out in the eighth on Sunday, Cuddyer ripped the first pitch he saw from Milwaukee reliever Francisco Rodriguez into the gap. The result was a go-ahead double, as Cuddyer drove in a pair of runs and set up the Rockies for a 4-1 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park.
Every time a big late-game situation comes up this season, Cuddyer seems to be there to deliver for the Rockies. He had a game-winning pinch-hit on Friday before coming through again Sunday.
The veteran slugger seems to enjoy such opportunities, as well.
“Who doesn’t?” Cuddyer said. “A man in scoring position and a one-run game, the worst that can happen is you fail. And that happens a lot. So yeah, you’ve got to relish those opportunities.”
Cuddyer collected his team-leading 10th and 11th RBIs of the season. He also leads the Rockies in hits (19), doubles (8) and extra-base hits (11).
Perhaps more impressive is the fact that Cuddyer’s big hits this weekend came against a pair of the best relievers in the game, in John Axford and Rodriguez. With every Cuddyer at-bat, the Rockies’ biggest offseason acquisition looks better and better.
“The biggest thing is, every time he steps up to the plate, I think 24 other guys and the coaching staff have confidence that he’s going to get a big hit,” Rockies starter Jeremy Guthrie said.
Along with everything he’s done at the plate so far this season, Cuddyer can play a pretty good right field as well. He showed that Sunday not long after he delivered the game’s big blow.
Cuddyer made a great read on an Aramis Ramirez line drive to right to help snuff out a potential Brewers’ rally in the eighth. Milwaukee had the tying runs on base at the time.
Cuddyer then fired a strike toward second that could have doubled up Rickie Weeks, but Marco Scutaro cut the ball off.
“As I was letting go of the ball I was yelling, ‘Let it go, let it go, let it go,’” Cuddyer said. “But he didn’t. So then Matty [Belisle] was able to make a couple big pitches.”
But as impressive as his eighth-inning heroics were, Cuddyer was quick to share the spotlight.
As he saw it, the pitching was the story of the game.
In his fourth start of the season, Jeremy Guthrie gave the Rockies everything they needed. Coming off a pair of rough home starts, Guthrie had his best outing yet, tossing seven innings and allowing just one run on three hits with three walks with two strikeouts.
“It wasn’t just seven innings, it was seven quality innings,” said Rockies manager Jim Tracy, who earned the 800th win of his managerial career. “He had great movement with his two-seam fastball today, great command of his fastballs, period. Two- or four-seam. Which helped to make the breaking ball and the changeup that much more effective.”
A leadoff walk issued to Ryan Braun in the fourth inning led to the Brewers’ only run off Guthrie. First baseman Mat Gamel plated Braun with a two-out single to right field on a 1-1 cutter from Guthrie.
But the run wouldn’t have happened without the help of an unusual stolen base by Braun. Guthrie struck out Aramis Ramirez looking at a 3-2 pitch, and the throw beat Braun to second base, but Scutaro did not tag the runner, apparently thinking the pitch was ball four.
Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo matched Guthrie’s solid outing with an impressive one of his own. The right-hander went seven strong innings, giving up just one run on six hits with eight strikeouts against one walk.
In addition to Cuddyer and Guthrie’s big performances, the Rockies got a boost from Belisle in the eighth inning, who retired the heart of the Brewers lineup in order.
Entering the game with two on and no outs, Belisle got Braun to pop out, Ramirez to line out to Cuddyer — on the aforementioned near-double play — and struck out Corey Hart.
It was a big moment for the Rockies en route to the road series win, and an even bigger missed opportunity for the Brewers.
“When you don’t have many opportunities through the game, then you get that one shot at it and you feel like everything is on the line in one inning,” Roenicke said. “Unfortunately, it should be a lot of different innings. It’s tough.”
Jordan Schelling is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.