Game Report: Brewers 6, Cardinals 1

By Rob Rains

The Cardinals’ final game of the year on Sunday played out in a similar manner to what happened to the team over the course of the season - they fell behind early and never could catch up.

Fielding a lineup which could have been on display numerous times this season at Memphis, the Cardinals lost to the Brewers to end the year with their seventh loss in their last nine games, settling into third place in the NL Central, their lowest finish since they were fourth in 2008.

Rookie Jack Flaherty allowed two walks and a three-run homer in the first inning as the Brewers built a 4-0 lead. The Cardinals did not have a baserunner until two outs in the sixth inning and managed just three hits in the game.

“We came up short,” said manager Mike Matheny, describing both the final game and the season. “It’s not what we intended to do. … There were a lot of positives, but we have to evaluate what we have to do better.”

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate:
Jose Martinez broke up Aaron Wilkerson’s perfect game with a pinch-hit single with two outs in the sixth. He ended the season reaching base in 27 consecutive games, the longest streak by a Cardinals’ rookie since Albert Pujols reached base in 48 consecutive games in 2001 … The lone run came on a homer by Randal Grichuk in the seventh, his 22nd of the year. Grichuk struck out in his first two bats, ending the year with a team-high 133 … The only other hit by the Cardinals was a single by Carson Kelly in the eighth, when they loaded the bases with nobody out but failed to score.

On the mound: After the rough first inning, Flaherty pitched through the fifth, allowing three singles and striking out four over the last four innings. In his first exposure to the major leagues, Flaherty went 0-2 in six games, five starts, with a 6.33 ERA … Sandy Alcantara allowed the final two Milwaukee runs on a double and home run in the eighth.

Key stats:
The Cardinals finished the season with an 83-79 record, one of only two teams in the majors (along with the Brewers) to have a winning season and not be going to the postseason. The 83 wins is their fewest since going 78-84 in 2007, their last losing season. They were 34-42 within the NL Central division, and went 44-37 at home.

Worth noting: Adam Wainwright will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on Tuesday, similar to the surgery he had at the end of the 2014 season. He said Dr. George Paletta will “shave down” a piece of cartilage flap in his elbow, which he believes was the biggest reason for his struggles in recent games. He expects to be 100 percent by spring training and expects to go into next season as a starter … Aledmys Diaz saw his tough season end with an injury. Diaz strained his left hamstring while trying to beat out an infield hit in the second inning and had to leave the game. He was called out after a video review … Sunday’s attendance of 44,787 boosted the team’s total for the year to 3,447,937, the fifth highest in franchise history. The team’s average attendance was 42,567. They have never drawn less than 30,000 fans to a game in the 12 seasons at Busch Stadium 3.

Looking ahead
: Opening day 2018 is 179 days away, on March 29, when the Cardinals will play the Mets in New York.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains