Brewers beat Pittsburgh 1-0, move to within a game of Colorado in wild card race

The Milwaukee Brewers continued their push towards the postseason Tuesday night with a 1-0 shutout victory over Pittsburgh.

Chase Anderson threw six scoreless innings with eight strikeouts to pick up his 11th win of the year, though it didn’t come easy. In the sixth inning, Pittsburgh managed to get a runner to third with no outs. Anderson had an answer though, getting Andrew McCutchen to strike out and then a pair of fly balls to get out of the inning.

With Anderson’s night done, the duo of Anthony Swarzak and Corey Knebel came on to finish things off, with the latter picking up his 37th save. It was Milwaukee’s 12th shutout this year and the fourth in the month of September alone.

The only offense Milwaukee got – or needed – came courtesy of a solo home run in the fourth inning from Domingo Santana, his 26th long ball of the year.

Thanks to a walk-off win by San Francisco over Colorado, the Brewers moved to within one game of the Rockies in the race for the final wild card spot in the National League. The Crew remained 3 ½ games back of Chicago in the NL Central after the Cubs won their seventh straight game.

Milwaukee will finish off its series with the Pirates tonight before coming home for four games against the Cubs at Miller Park.

Thames, Santana help the Brewers to a 5-2 win over Pittsburgh

Milwaukee took care of Pittsburgh 7-2 on Tuesday night, but the Brewers failed to gain any ground in their push for a playoff spot.

Brent Suter gave up two runs in three innings of work before turning things over to six relievers to go the rest of the way. Jeremy Jeffress got the win thanks to 1 2/3 innings of scoreless ball, while Corey Knebel picked up his 35th save of the season.

The Brewers were paced offensively by first baseman Eric Thames and right fielder Domingo Santana, as the duo combined for four of the team’s five RBIs, including the 29th homer of the season for Thames.

Unfortunately for the Brewers, all the teams they are chasing in the National League also won, meaning they are a ½ game back of St. Louis and 2 ½ games back of Chicago in the NL Central, and four games off Colorado’s pace for the second wild-card spot.

Milwaukee will close out its series with the Pirates on Wednesday night at Miller Park.

Brewers continue their playoff push, beat Washington 7-2

In a rare occurrence in the second half of the season, the Milwaukee offense and its pitching showed up in the same game, helping the Brewers to a 7-2 win over Washington on Sunday at Miller Park.

The offense was powered by Domingo Santana, who had a solo home run in the first inning and followed that with a two-run blast in the fourth. The right fielder drew a pair of walks in his other at-bats and finished the day with three runs scored. Left fielder Ryan Braun and first baseman Neil Walker each had a pair of hits.

As for the pitching, it was a group effort. Brent Suter got the start, going three innings and giving up two hits. Three relievers — Jeremy Jeffress, Jacob Barnes and Andrew Zwarzak – kept the shutout going, not allowing a hit in a combined five innings of work. Former starter Junior Guerra, who spent time in Triple-A the last month, allowed a two-run homer in the 9th, the only runs Washington managed for the afternoon.

Milwaukee ended up taking three of four from the NL East-leading Nationals and completed its six-game home stand 4-2.

With the win, the Brewers moved to within one game of Colorado in the push for the second wild card spot in the National League, and could be within a ½ game depending on the outcome of the Rockies contest with Arizona that was ongoing.

Now, the Brewers hit the road for six important games, first with a stop in Cincinnati and then in Chicago against the NL Central-leading Cubs.

Milwaukee falls 3-1 to the Dodgers in LA

Milwaukee’s offense remained virtually non-existent Friday night as the Brewers fell for a third time in four games, this one a 3-1 setback to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Starter Kenta Maeda had a very good night for LA, going six innings and allowing just one hit – a solo homer from Domingo Santana – while striking out seven to move to 12-5 on the year. It marked the fourth straight game the Brewers had failed to score more than three runs.

“We’ve got to score more runs. It’s simple,” manager Craig Counsell said. “We’re facing good pitching and good teams, for sure, and that makes it really challenging.

“We’ve obviously got to create more opportunities.”

The struggles offensively overshadowed a strong start from Chase Anderson. He made it five innings, giving up two runs on six hits and striking out six, but ended up taking the loss to fall to 7-3.

Despite losing, Milwaukee remained three games back of Chicago in the NL Central and 3 ½ games back of Colorado for the final wild-card spot in the National League.

The Brewers and Dodgers will play again Saturday night in LA. Zach Davies gets the ball for Milwaukee, while Los Angeles will send Ross Stripling to the mound. First pitch is set for 8:10 p.m.

Brett Phillip’s bounce back season continues

Brett Phillips was the prized possession of the 2015 non-waiver trade deadline deal with the Houston Astros. The trade sent Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to the Astros in exchange for Phillips, Domingo Santana, Josh Hader, and Adrian Houser.

The Brewers had high expectations for Phillips, but it was Santana and Hader who continued to succeed after the trade. Santana made it to the big leagues with the Brewers at the end of the 2015 season and has been on the roster ever since. Hader climbed the ranks as one of the Brewers top pitching prospects before graduating to the bullpen this summer.

Phillips was once thought of as a top-5 prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers organization, but has since fallen out of the top-10, and ranks 12th. He struggled in Double-A with the Brewers affiliate after being traded. He also had the worst season of his minor league career the next year in Double-A. In 2016, he batted a career worse .229 and struck out 154 times. Phillips was nagged by injuries all season long.

Phillips entered this season in Triple-A and was finally completely healthy. He is having a breakout season this year, and it even got him two stints with the Milwaukee Brewers at the major league level. Phillips is currently hitting .318 with 17 home runs and 71 RBIs. He’s also hit 22 doubles and 10 triples to go along with his production. The Brewers organization is most impressed with his decreased strikeout rate. He has cut his strikeout rate over three percent this season and has shown a better eye at the plate.

Phillips is one of two players in all of minor league baseball who has double-digit doubles, triples, home runs, and outfield assists. Fans should expect to see him called back up in September for September call-ups.

Smooth Santana leads Brewers to 7-4 win over Reds

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers broke out of an offensive slump in a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds, capped off by a 7-4 victory Sunday at Miller Park.

Domingo Santana led the Brewers offense with his 19th home run of the year, driving in three runs in the process. Ryan Braun also stayed hot during the home stand with a 2-for-4 performance and an RBI.

Matt Garza didn’t have his best stuff, allowing four runs (three earned) over 5.1 innings while walking five, but he was pleased to get a win after a disastrous stretch prior to the series.

“We’re just trying to get back to playing our style of ball,” Garza said. “Guys are smiling, having a good time, and we’re creating a lot of pressure for the other team. That’s kind of what we do.”

After a four-game sweep by the Twins, Milwaukee held a team meeting in an attempt to get back on track. During the series with the Reds, the Brewers scored 23 runs and hit seven home runs.

Utility infielder Neil Walker, acquired over the weekend in a trade with the New York Mets, wasted little time making an impact. Playing third base, Walker finished with a 2-for-4 day at the plate.

Matt Garza roughed up in an 11-4 loss to the Twins

Matt Garza picked the wrong time to have his worst outing of the season.

The Milwaukee starter gave up eight runs in just 3 1/3 innings at Minnesota in an 11-4 loss on Tuesday night. The veteran had allowed just four runs in his previous 15 1/3 innings of work.

Garza started out OK, but the fourth inning turned into a nightmare for the 33-year-old. It started with a solo home run from center fielder Eddie Rosario, included a grand slam by second baseman Bryan Dozier and concluded with another home run, this one from right fielder Max Kepler. The Brewers had entered the frame with a 4-2 lead and came out of it down 8-4, a deficit they wouldn’t recover from.

Offensively, the Crew got three hits apiece from right fielder Domingo Santana, left fielder Ryan Braun and shortstop Orlando Arcia, but they could manage just the four runs. Braun came up a home run short of hitting for the cycle.

The loss was Milwaukee’s third-straight, but because the Cubs lost to San Francisco, the Brewers remain just 1 ½ games back of Chicago in the NL Central. But things are getting tight behind them, too, with St. Louis just a game back of Milwaukee and Pittsburgh only two games back.

The Brewers and Twins will continue their interleague series tonight in Milwaukee.

What this Brewers offense is missing

The Brewers have undoubtedly played better than anyone expected this season, and are still in the hunt for the National League Central title. This has lead to Brewers general manager David Stearns making some moves to sure up the Milwaukee bullpen, which emerged as the team’s weakest unit.

The team has struggled since the All-Star break going 9-14 in that time. The starting pitching has been relatively good all season, and the bullpen has made strides as of late. What is really plaguing the Brewers is the fact that the offense isn’t hitting home runs and not scoring runs in general.

David Stearns mentioned how he would continue to look at every option available to improve this ball club. I’m sure he’ll continue to scour the waiver wire and look to make deals during the waiver trade deadline.  He could also continue to bring up younger players from the minor league in hopes of a spark. Which might not really happen until September.

Lewis Brinson and Brett Phillips are two highly touted prospects, but both have shown that the Brewers need to be patient with their progression as they’ve both struggled in their limited time at the big league level.

There has been a lot said lately about how the Brewers have struggled to score runs especially when they aren’t hitting home runs. That is true, but the team is struggling to even get on base at the same time. What I think this Brewers team is missing is a true lead-off hitter. Jonathan Villar was the Brewers lead-off man for most of last season, but he has been anything but productive so far this season.

Villar is hitting .216 this season with 8 home runs and 32 RBIs. He does have 20 stolen bases, but has shown a lack of concentration on the bases too many times in his career. He has also struck out 111 times this season, which is over 34% of his at-bats. His on-base percentage of .276 is terrible for a traditional lead-off hitter. He has also committed 11 errors this season, which doesn’t help his case.

Eric Sogard has also seen quite a bit of time in the lead-off spot since mid-May. He was fitting the role nicely up until he went on the disabled list just before the All-Star break. Since returning to the lineup a little more than two weeks ago, he has really struggled. Since July, Sogard is a combined 3-39 for a batting average of .077 during that time period. The Brewers have to monitor his playing time because he is coming off of knee reconstruction surgery.

The Brewers don’t really have many other options. Eric Thames and Domingo Santana have seen some time at the top of the order, but Craig Counsell and the Brewers would prefer them lower in the order. Keon Broxton has also gotten starts in the lead-off spot, but has struck out at too high of a clip to be a good candidate for the position. The Brewers could try Orlando Arcia at the top spot in the order, but Craig Counsell seems content with batting him in the seventh or eighth spot.

Without a consistent lead-off hitter, the Brewers offense will continue to struggle as long as they aren’t hitting the long ball. For my money, I’d pull the trigger on calling up top prospects Lewis Brinson and/or Mauricio Dubon and let them find their swings at the major league level.

 

 

 

 

Brewers hang on to give Nelson first career win vs Cardinals

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers maintained an early lead to top the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 Tuesday night, giving Jimmy Nelson his first career win against the division rival.

In his previous 10 attempts, Nelson held a 0-8 record and 7.01 ERA against the Cardinals. He bucked that trend by throwing six innings of two-run ball, in which he struck out seven St. Louis batters. The bullpen came in to aid Nelson’s performance, shutting out the Cardinals over the final three frames.

“The Cardinals are always in it, no matter how many games they are back,” Nelson said. “Those guys always battle. They have a good core of guys over there, and they have a good team.”

In addition to Nelson’s personal success, Milwaukee was able to end a drought as a team. They had previously gone 0-for-31 with runners in scoring position — a trend that ended in the first inning thanks to a Domingo Santana RBI single. Ryan Braun and Manny Piña drove in the other two Brewers runs.

“The streak’s over,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell joked. “It ended up being a big hit, got Manny up there, and we got another one. It was a big part of the win, for sure.”

Tuesday’s win helps the Brewers’ chances of winning the series — an area in which they’ve struggled against the Cardinals. St. Louis has won the previous 13 series in Milwaukee, dating back to 2012.

Knebel blows the save, Brewers lose their fourth straight

A disappointing start to the second half of the season continued Wednesday night for the Milwaukee Brewers in a 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 10 innings.

Manager Craig Counsell’s club was in position to snap a three-game losing streak when he handed the ball to closer Corey Knebel in the ninth inning and holding a 2-1 lead. But after retiring the first batter, the lone Milwaukee all-star allowed three straight hitters to reach base, and the Pirates tied things up. Then, in the 10th inning, reliever Jared Hughes gave up a walk-off single to rookie Max Maroff to end the game.

The loss wasted good nights from starter Zach Davies and right fielder Domingo Santana.

Davies made it seven innings, giving up just one unearned run on eight hits, a performance Counsell called one of his best of the season. Santana, hitting at the top of the lineup, was 3-of-5 on the night and scored both of Milwaukee’s runs, including a solo home run in the eighth inning to give them the lead.

The Brewers dropped to 3-8 in extra innings this year, while also sitting at just 11-13 in 1-run games.

Milwaukee’s lead in the NL Central is now just 1.5 games on the Chicago Cubs, who have won six straight.

The Crew will try to salvage one game of their four-game set with the Pirates this afternoon in Pittsburgh.