Pina homers to lead Brewers to sweep

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Tom Haudricourt
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Sunday, May 14, 2017

Move over, Bill Hall. Manny Piña has now carved a niche in Mother’s Day lore for the Milwaukee Brewers.

There was no pink bat this time. And Piña’s mother, Minda, was not in the stands at Miller Park. But she was watching on television back in Venezuela and texted her son after the most dramatic moment of his career.

"She said she started screaming, she was so happy," Piña said with a big smile.

And she wasn’t alone. Miller Park was up for grabs when Piña capped a five-run rally in the eighth inning Sunday afternoon with a three-run homer that gave the Brewers a seemingly impossible 11-9 victory over the New York Mets and a three-game sweep of the series.

The Brewers trailed, 7-1, in the fifth and seemed all but done for the day. Even when they pulled within 8-6 in the seventh, the Mets seemed to weather the storm by stranding runners on second and third with no outs.

But the Brewers didn’t give up. Never mind that No. 3 hitter Ryan Braun was on the disabled list and cleanup hitter Travis Shaw exited in the seventh inning with a finger injury.

The comeback was so improbable that manager Craig Counsell didn’t really know what to say about it.

"I don’t know if I’ve seen anything like that," said Counsell, whose team went 5-1 on the homestand while scoring 11 runs on three occasions. "We just kind of chipped away. They answered back (with a run in the eighth).

"The eighth inning, that was absolutely incredible. Great at-bats by a whole bunch of guys. (Orlando) Arcia leading off the inning (with a walk). (Jonathan) Villar with a great at-bat (single). ‘HP’ (Hernán Pérez) had an outstanding at-bat (two-run single). Then, obviously, Manny. Everything was with two strikes."

Including the 3-2 slider from reliever Addison Reed that Piña crushed to left field for his three-run homer. He knew right away it was gone and slammed his bat down with glee, screaming toward the Brewers’ dugout.

"This is the biggest hit I’ve had in my career," said Piña, who pointed to wife Leny and their two young children in the stands as he arrived at home plate. "When I hit that ball, everything came into my mind. Mother’s Day."

It was on Mother’s Day in 2006, again with the Brewers playing the Mets, that Hall created a magical moment in club history. Using a special pink bat that MLB supplies players for that day, Hall slugged a walk-off home run in the 10th inning with his mother, Vergie Hall, in attendance.

Piña preferred not to use a pink bat—many players pass on them because their bats are close to sacred to them—but he did have lots of pink-tinged gear on for the game. He telephoned his mother earlier in the morning to wish her a happy Mother’s Day, then went out and did something that neither would forget.

When Piña, 29, made his first opening day roster in the spring, the first person he called was his mother. She was so happy for him, she began to cry.

"When I was young, it was just me and her together," he said. "To play baseball, she take me to the game. So, now, I’m here, so happy."

The remarkable comeback allowed the Brewers to overcome another poor outing by starter Wily Peralta, who allowed seven hits and seven runs (six earned) in 4 1/3 innings. After a strong finish to his up-and-down 2016 season, Peralta appeared to be still moving forward through three starts this year, going 3-0 with a 2.65 earned run average. For whatever reason, it has been mostly bad since.

Over his last five starts, Peralta is 1-3 with an 8.61 ERA, with 34 hits and 22 earned runs allowed in 23 innings. Overall, he is 4-3 with a 6.08 ERA and heading in the wrong direction.

"I threw terrible todayl," Peralta said. "But I’m happy with the way we played. That’s probably the best comeback that I’ve ever been part of. We just never give up, man. It’s unbelievable.


Last updated: 11:19 pm Sunday, May 14, 2017

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