DENVER -- September callup Andrew Susac had one last chance to make an impression on the Brewers, and it wasn't going well. Granted a start in Sunday's season finale, he was hitless in his first four at-bats with a trio of strikeouts before connecting in the 10th for a two-run home run, powering a 6-4 win over the Rockies on Sunday.
The Brewers finished their season 73-89 and the Rockies 75-87 with a game that felt like a replay of the night before, with the Rockies coming back against Brewers closer Tyler Thornburg in the ninth before losing it in extra innings on a homer. Susac's shot off Chris Rusin was his first home run in a Brewers uniform.
The Brewers took a one-run lead in the eighth on Domingo Santana's two-run homer off Carlos Estevez, but they coughed it up in the next frame. On a pair of broken-bat hits and a costly curveball in the dirt that bounced away from Susac for a wild pitch, Thornburg blew his third save in five days when Jordan Patterson brought Nolan Arenado home with a single in the ninth inning. However, the Brewers took the lead for good with a long ball -- just as on Saturday, when Chris Carter launched the go-ahead shot in the 10th.
The late scoring nullified Rockies rookie right-hander German Marquez's excellent start over six innings. He limited Milwaukee to two runs on six hits with seven strikeouts and one walk. The only damage came on Orlando Arcia's second-inning double, which center fielder Charlie Blackmon lost in the sun, and Jake Elmore's groundout later in the inning.
"He's done a nice job for us since he came up," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "First out of the bullpen, and it's nice to see him make three starts for us at the end. Twenty-one-year-old kid with a very bright future."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Arenado, Carter tie for home run title: Arenado homered in the first game of the three-game series, and Carter entered the season finale with three homers in his previous four games, but neither slugger went deep on Sunday. They finished the season tied for the National League lead with 41 homers. Arenado was tied with Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper for the NL lead last season with 42 home runs.
"I had a two-homer lead after the first at-bat of the series, but he hits homers, he can hit, you've got to give him credit, he tied me up," Arenado said. "But it's cool to lead in anything. It's unbelievable, and I'm very thankful. I know it would be cool to win by myself, but at the same time, he's had a great year for himself. I'm just happy that I had another good year. It's a cool thing to be a part of, being up there at No. 1." More >
Deja vu: Armed with an improved curveball, Thornburg was a bright spot for the Brewers all season, especially after taking over as closer when the team traded Jeremy Jeffress on Aug. 1. But Thornburg ran out of luck in the final week, suffering a blown save Wednesday in Texas that included Carlos Gomez's booming three-run homer and two more in Colorado on rallies that began with broken-bat hits. There were two of them on Sunday, the first off Arenado's bat leading off the inning. Arenado moved into scoring position on a wild pitch, then scored the tying run on Jordan Patterson's broken-bat single to right-center.
"It's tough to end a really good season on a really bad note," said Thornburg. "The only thing that helps, definitely, is that we won. The next week is going to be a lot of me trying to relax, mentally, and trying to forget this last week."
Santana surges to finish line: Count the 24-year-old outfielder among the second-half bright spots for the Brewers. Santana was the Brewers' leadoff hitter on Opening Day but lost that job to Jonathan Villar, then spent two and a half months on the disabled list with elbow and shoulder injuries. He returned in mid-August and hit seven home runs over his final 37 games, including Sunday's go-ahead, two-run shot.
Crew sets strikeout record: After Carter was rung up on an inside pitch to end the third inning and Santana went down swinging to start the fourth, the Brewers had a Major League record they would just as soon forget. Santana's strikeout was the Brewers' 1,536th this season, breaking a single-season mark set by a 2013 Astros team that included three players who were in the Brewers' starting lineup on Sunday: Carter, Villar and Elmore. More >
"You guys can analyze it. We won 70-some games. That's not enough. What we set out to do was to explore some young players, to develop some young players, to compete every day. Those things happened, but it's hard to be satisfied completely when you're not winning enough games. That's how I look at it." -- Brewers manager Craig Counsell, assessing the Brewers' first full season of rebuilding
"That's never weighed on me as a player or as a manager. I'm always going to show up the same way, no matter what my contract situation is. I demanded that from our players, and I've had this talk with the players. Regardless of what the circumstances are, what your contract situation is, you show up and you play the right way. You're obligated to do that, and you're obligated to this organization to do that." -- Weiss, on if his contract being up after the season weighed on him
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Blackmon's homer made him the fifth player in Major League history to hit 10 or more leadoff homers in a season. It has happened six times. The last player to do so was Alfonso Soriano, who hit 12 in 2007 for the Cubs.
"As is the case with a lot of young guys, he's just maturing as a hitter," Weiss said. "He's found his power, and his lower half of his swing is a little different than it was a couple years ago. He's more aggressive in the box. Like I said, he's using his lower half and driving the ball. He's another one. I mean, Charlie, what a season. You lay the numbers out there, and it's big-time stuff."
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Brewers' winning rally began with a strange play in the 10th, when Arcia's comebacker caromed off Rusin so hard that it rolled all the way into left field for a hustle double. Arcia popped up off the bag, so the Rockies challenged, but to no avail.
Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver.