Last strikes: Brewers 5, Rockies 3

MILWAUKEE – Fifteen last strikes for Eric Thames’ 15th home run of the season – a walk off blast – in Milwaukee’s 5-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Friday night at Miller Park.

1. Let’s have a moment of honesty. On Friday night the cards were certainly stacked against the Brewers before first pitch was thrown at Miller Park.

2. Milwaukee was playing for the fifteenth consecutive day and returned from the west coast earlier on Friday morning following a rare get-away-day night game in Los Angeles. The team touched down in Milwaukee around 5:30 a.m. CT before having to be at the field less than 12 hours later for a game.

3. These things are obviously out of the control of the Brewers, but they didn’t help Milwaukee’s quest to victory.

4. It didn’t matter.

5. The Brewers were 5-3 walk-off winners thanks to a three-run home run off the bat of Thames in the bottom of the ninth inning.

6. “That was awesome, that was an awesome feeling,” Thames said after the win. “Hitting that sweet spot off the bat, and then seeing the team’s reaction and everything, and the crowd. It was an awesome moment.”

7. Thames’ home run came off of Colorado closer Wade Davis, who has struggled against the Brewers the last few chances that he’s had. Last season, as a member of the Cubs, Davis gave up a walk-off home run to Travis Shaw and the Brewers didn’t forget about that.

8. “One of our guys was talking about when Shaw hit the walk off against Chicago off of Davis. It was like ‘yeah you remember that? Let’s go, let’s get him again!’” Thames said. “We did. He has great stuff but we got the W tonight.”

9. Outside of the ninth inning there wasn’t much for the Brewers to brag about offensively. Christian Yelich and Mike Moustakas had the only hits for the Crew before the final frame. Yelich smoked a 420-foot home run in the sixth inning to centerfield and Moustakas had a pair of singles, including one that drove in Milwaukee’s first run.

10. Starting pitcher Junior Guerra was the lone member of the Brewers that wasn’t in attendance for Thursday night’s 21-5 defeat in Los Angeles, as the team sent him home early in order to ensure he was well rested for his start.

11. He looked to be one of the few members of the team that was energized for the game.

12. “I got home like 10 p.m. and got into bed about 12:30. I got a good sleep,” Guerra said after the game. “It felt weird, but it is what it is. I had to take a rest because the team got here in Milwaukee at like five in the morning.”

13. Guerra pitched a season-high eight innings allowing three runs on five hits and striking out six. He did allow a pair of home runs that did all of the damage for Colorado. It certainly looked as if the decision to send him home a day early from the west coast was vindicated.

14. This was the eighth walk-off win of the year for the Brewers, it’s also the most walk-off wins the franchise has had since 2013 when they also totaled eight.

15. The Brewers are back in action on Saturday as they continue this three-game series with the Rockies. Freddy Peralta (4-2, 3.61) is slated to start for the Brewers while Tyler Anderson (6-3, 3.69) will be on the mound for the Rockies. First pitch is at 6:10 p.m. CT.

Brewers: Three roster spots for five players

The Milwaukee Brewers nearly have their opening day roster set. They currently have three spots available, with five players vying for those last few spots.

The players still trying to make the team are pitchers Oliver Drake, J.J. Hover and Taylor Williams, along with first basemen Jesus Aguilar and Ji-Man Choi. The Brewers and general manager David Stearns have until March 28th to finalize the roster.

Drake and Aguilar are out of options and would have to be placed on waivers before being reassigned to Triple-A Colorado Springs or cut. Both would likely be claimed off waivers by other teams.

Williams still has an option available and therefore there wouldn’t be any consequences for sending him to the minors to start the season.

Hoover and Choi are a different story, being non-roster invitees, who signed minor league deals with Milwaukee. Both players would need to be added to the Brewers 40-man roster, which only has one spot available after Milwaukee officially cut Yovani Gallardo on Monday.

Choi and Hoover could be assigned to Colorado Springs with no consequences. The Brewers would also have another spot available if pitcher Jimmy Nelson starts the season on the 60-day disabled list.

What I think happens

Drake, Hoover, and Aguilar make the opening day roster. Drake and Aguilar are currently already on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster. Hoover would then take Gallardo’s spot, which would allow the Brewers to be flexible with monitoring Nelson’s rehab.

Choi would fall victim to the depth at the first base position. In 41 at-bats this spring, Choi batted .390 with three home runs and 10 RBIs. He proved that he could make most major league teams as a backup first baseman, but finds himself behind Ryan Braun, Eric Thames, and Aguilar.

Drake struggled this spring, making 12 appearances, logging 11 1/3 innings, while accumulating an ERA of 5.56. Hoover turned heads this spring training appearing in 9 games, going 9 1/3 inning and not allowing a run. He also owned an excellent WHIP of 0.64. Aguilar also played well, batting .276 with two home runs and seven runs batted in in 58 at-bats.

What I would do

First off, I would cut Drake, as he has never really impressed me during his time in Milwaukee. I would then give his 40-man roster spot to Hoover, who was outstanding during spring training. Williams showed this past month that he’s all the way back from his Tommy John surgery in 2015, as he was clocked numerous times in the mid to upper 90s on the radar gun.

The Brewers would then still have one spot left on their 40-man roster, which they should give to Choi. I then would assign him to Triple-A Colorado Springs and continue to add to the depth at first base. These moves would also allow the Brewers the option not to place Nelson on the 60-day disabled list and continue to monitor his rehab schedule.

 

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 falter late, lose 3-2 to Washington

Josh Hader gave up a pair of runs in the eighth inning as Milwaukee fell 3-2 to Washington Saturday night at Miller Park.

The Brewers led 2-1 when Michael Taylor took Hader deep for solo home run. After a batter reached on a bunt single, Trea Turner delivered the go-ahead double.

“He’s got thirty-some innings in and he’s dominated hitters,” manager Craig Counsell said in defense of Hader, who had given up just five runs on the year coming in. “He’s going to be a big part of this going forward. He’s going to be a very important guy for us. Tonight just wasn’t his night.”

The loss wasted what was a great outing from starter Brandon Woodruff. He went seven innings, giving up just one run on two hits and struckout eight.

On the other side, Max Scherzer held the Brewers lineup in check, allowing just one run on two hits over five innings of work. A crew of five relievers came on to help the Nationals get the win.

Offensively for Milwaukee, first baseman Eric Thames had an RBI double in the fourth inning, and catcher Stephen Vogt had a double in the sixth inning that scored second baseman Neil Walker.

Despite losing, Milwaukee didn’t lose any ground in the wild card race. That’s thanks to Colorado losing to Arizona, meaning the Brewers are still just 1 1/2 games back of the Rockies.

Milwaukee will go for the series win over Washington Sunday afternoon. First pitch is at 1:10 p.m.

St. Louis hammers the Brewers 10-2

Any momentum the Milwaukee Brewers had coming of a successful road trip came to a screeching halt Tuesday night, as the St. Louis Cardinals rolled into town and walked away with a convincing 10-2 victory.

Starter Matt Garza got lit up, making it just 3 1/3 innings, giving up six runs – three of them earned – on four hits. He also walked five, tying a season-high. The veteran took the loss to fall to 6-8 on the year.

In relief, Carlos Torres allowed three runs in just 1 1/3 innings.

Milwaukee’s offense was also missing in action, as the St. Louis pitching staff, led by starter Luke Weaver, held them in check. The only runs they were able to muster came courtesy of first baseman Eric Thames’s 28th homer of the year and a Keon Broxton single in the sixth.

The loss dropped the Brewers 3 ½ games back of Chicago in the NL Central with 30 games to play. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are now just 1 ½ games out of second.

Milwaukee and St. Louis will play the finale of their short two-game series Wednesday afternoon at Miller Park. First pitch is set for 1:10 p.m.

Milwaukee offense shows signs of life in 11-10 loss to Cincinnati

Milwaukee’s offense showed signs of life, but it wasn’t enough for the Brewers to avoid an 11-10 loss to Cincinnati on Friday night at Miller Park.

The Reds lit-up starter Jimmy Nelson, tagging him for a season-high 10 runs on 11 hits in just 3 2/3rds innings. It was the second-shortest outing of the year for Nelson, who is having the best season of his career.

On the other side, Homer Bailey, who had given up 10 runs in his last start, kept the Brewers bats at bay, going five innings and allowing just two runs on five hits. But the bullpen had a night to forget, especially Blake Wood. He gave up five runs without recording an out in the sixth inning, including a three-run homer by Eric Thames. He was replaced by Michael Lorenzen, who would give up two more runs in what turned into a 7-run sixth inning for Milwaukee.

The Crew trailed 10-9 heading into the seventh, when the Reds got one of the runs back courtesy of a Tucker Barnhardt home run off reliever Carlos Torres. The run proved to be the game-winner as Milwaukee got a homer from Jonathan Villar in the ninth but nothing else.

Milwaukee’s 10 runs were the most its scored since putting up 11 against Chicago on July 6, and the first time in 14 games it scored more than four runs.

The loss was the sixth straight for Milwaukee, who fell into a tie with Pittsburgh for third place in the NL Central. Both teams trail St. Louis by two games and Chicago by three.

The Brewers and Reds will matchup once again Saturday night 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 fall 5-4 to St. Louis

Brent Suter couldn’t keep his success from July going in August, as Milwaukee (56-53) fell 5-4 to St. Louis (53-54) on Wednesday night.

An injury replacement for Chase Anderson, Suter gave up six runs all of last month, but the Cardinals tagged him for five in his first start this month. Suter made it 5 1/3 innings, giving up the five runs, including a pair of home runs, on eight hits and striking out seven. He took the loss to fall to 2-2 on the year.

On the other side, Milwaukee once again jumped on the board early with a home run from Eric Thames in the first inning. But after that, Luke Weaver largely shut them down, holding the Brewers scoreless until a seventh-inning single from Hernan Perez. Weaver’s final line showed him giving up just the two runs on five hits and striking out eight. He improved to 1-1 for the season.

A two-run homer from Jesus Aguilar in the eighth inning got Milwaukee within one, but that’s as close as the Crew would get.

The loss proved to be a wasted opportunity for Milwaukee, as Chicago lost 3-0 to Arizona. It leaves the Cubs lead in the NL Central at 2 1/2 games on the Brewers with 53 games to play.

Milwaukee and St. Louis will close out the three game series on Thursday afternoon at Miller Park.

Davies struggles, offense sputters in 7-3 loss to Pirates

MILWAUKEE — The Pittsburgh Pirates jumped out to a 6-0 lead and ultimately hung on for a 7-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers Tuesday night.

Brewers starter Zach Davies was tagged for all seven runs scored by the Pirates, allowing 10 hits in the process. He left after five innings of work, having yet to make it into the seventh inning this season. In fact, Davies only has three games this season in which he’s thrown six innings. Davies has now allowed 14 earned runs in 15 innings over his last three starts.

“I should be ready from pitch one,” Davies said. “I’m kind of over the mechanical, the sequencing, all those kind of excuses. I think it’s just time to go out and compete.”

But Tuesday night’s loss wasn’t solely on Davies. The offense stranded 21 base runners, with Eric Thames and Manny Piña each going 0-for-5 at the plate. Thames’ last hit was on June 17, making it on base just once since.

One of the few positives for Milwaukee was outfielder Nick Franklin’s two RBI, one of which came on a second-inning home run and the other with an RBI double in the third.

Thames reaches career milestone in win over Padres

MILWAUKEE — When the Milwaukee Brewers signed first baseman Eric Thames to a three-year, $16 million contract, they were simply hoping for production. So far, he’s made that contract look like a bargain.

Thames blasted his 19th home run of the year in Friday night’s 6-5 win over the San Diego Padres, hitting a milestone along the way. His walk-off home run in the 10th inning was the first of his Major League career.

But Thames wasn’t the only one to go yard in Milwaukee’s fourth-straight win. Travis Shaw hit a solo home run in the second inning, followed by Keon Broxton’s three-run dinger in the fourth that erased a 4-0 deficit. Manny Piña would add another solo bomb in the eighth prior to Thames’ game winner.

Milwaukee’s Junior Guerra struggled with command on the mound, walking four batters in six innings of work. That lack of command led to four runs (three earned) scoring for San Diego, including a pair of home runs. The Brewers late-inning relievers shut the door on any comeback attempt for the Padres, with Corey Knebel striking out a pair in his single inning of work. Jared Hughes picked up his third win of the year after pitching a scoreless 10th.