Pirates close gap in NL Central in Starling Marte’s return from suspension

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte returned from an 80-game PED suspension Tuesday night to help his team take down the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3 at PNC Park.

Marte went 1-for-3 with a walk and a single, while Josh Harrison and Francisco Cervelli broke down Milwaukee starter Junior Guerra with home runs in the sixth inning. Pittsburgh has now won nine of its last 11 games, to come within five games of the National-League-Central-leading Brewers.

For Milwaukee, it marks the squad’s third straight loss, as the Chicago Cubs climb to within 2 ½ games of the division lead. Some timely hitting could have helped the Brewers maintain their distance, only able to scratch across three runs on 13 hits against the Pirates. During their three-game losing streak, the Brewers are 3-for-23 with runners in scoring position.

‘You’ve got to get hits with runners in scoring position,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Some nights you’re not going to get them. The last couple nights, we’ve gotten guys on — just unable to get that next hit.”

While he sounded composed in the post-game press conference, Counsell lost his composure in the eighth inning over a called strike against third baseman Travis Shaw. Counsell’s disagreement with home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski resulted in an ejection.

Milwaukee can split the four-game series with Pittsburgh by winning the final two games. Zach Davies starts opposite Gerrit Cole during Wednesday’s game at 6:05 p.m. CT.

Brewers: Injury Updates

The Milwaukee Brewers have a considerable number of pieces that are currently on the disabled list. Starting pitcher Junior Guerra will be activated from the DL and will start tonight for the Brewers against the Pittsburgh Pirates at 6:05 p.m. CST. Guerra was placed on the 10-day disabled list after his last start prior to the All-Star break on July 10th. Guerra is 1-3 on the season with an ERA of 4.78. He isn’t the only player the Brewers expect to get back in the near future.

Chase Anderson

Anderson went on the DL after exiting a game in the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds on June 28th with an oblique strain. The original diagnoses was that he would be out 4-6 weeks with the strain. As of yesterday, it was announced that at the earliest the Brewers would expect to get Anderson back by the next home stand. The Brewers next home stand is against the Chicago Cubs from July 28th through July 30th. The organization didn’t rule out Anderson returning in early August depending on how he feels once he returns to the mound.

Eric Sogard

Sogard was officially placed on the disabled list on July 4th after dealing with a sore ankle, which had him in and out of the lineup for a week. Sogard has had injury issues in the past and the Brewers didn’t want to take any chances after how well he was swinging the bat this season. He will begin a rehab assignment with Low-A Wisconsin on Wednesday. The Brewers are hoping everything will go well and have him start one or two games for Low-A Wisconsin. If everything goes as expected, the Brewers expect to get Sogard back for their weekend series starting with the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday.

 (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Brandon Woodruff

Woodruff was scheduled to make his major league debut for the Brewers on July 13th doubleheader in St. Louis. 25 minutes before his first career start, Woodruff was scratched with right hamstring tightness. He is the Brewers eighth ranked prospect, who has excelled in the Brewers farm system the past couple years. Woodruff began a rehab assignment with the Arizona Rookie League on Saturday, and will likely need a few outings to be game-ready. The Brewers don’t expect to get him back until late July. Woodruff could potentially play a role in the starting rotation or bullpen based on other pitcher injury or trade statuses.

Stephen Vogt

Vogt left last night’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates after a collision at the plate with Pirates pitcher Chad Kuhl. Vogt was hit in the head and bent his knee awkwardly in the collision. Both team trainers ran out to look at Vogt, who was put through multiple tests before slowly walking off the field. During the game, reports came in that Vogt was being looked at for a strained neck and knee. Vogt could be looking at a recovery time of 4-6 weeks. The Brewers will likely recall catcher Jett Bandy.

Looking ahead to the rest of July

The Milwaukee Brewers entered the All-Star Break with a 50-41 record, good enough for first place with a 5.5 game lead in the National League Central. The Brewers are on of the biggest surprises in Major League Baseball this season. They were expected to be an average team at the very best in the midst of a rebuild.  It appears that the rebuild may be further along than many people expected, which has brought excitement back to baseball fans in Wisconsin.

David Stearns is on record saying that the Brewers are expecting to be buyers at this year’s deadline. The Brewers have already been linked to pitchers such as Sonny Gray, Jose Quintana, and others. The Brewers farm system is extremely deep in the outfield and up the middle in the infield. The organization could easily unload some of those prospects, while gaining pieces to make a postseason run without selling the farm.

The non-waiver trade deadline ends this year on Tuesday, July 31st at 3 p.m. CST.

The rest of July

The Brewers start a weekend series at home with the Philadelphia Phillies after the All-Star Break on Friday, July 14th. The three pitching match-ups have already been announced. On Friday, the Brewers will go with Zach Davies (10-4) against Nick Pivetta (2-4). The Saturday game will feature Jimmy Nelson (8-4) for Milwaukee versus Aaron Nola (6-6). The series will come to an end Sunday when Matt Garza (4-4) faces Jeremy Hellickson(5-5). The Brewers should look to continue their July success as the Phillies are the worst team in baseball.

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

The team will then hit the road for a three series road trip from July 17th through July 27th. The road trip begins with a four game series in Pittsburgh against the Pirates. The second of the three series will be a three game series, once again against the Phillies. They will conclude their trip away from Miller Park with a three game series against the Washington Nationals. The Brewers will then return home to end July for a three game series with the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs are currently in second place behind the Brewers in the National League Central.

The rest of July has the Brewers scheduled to play four out of five series against teams with a record below .500. The All-Star break should allow for players like Junior Guerra and Ryan Braun to once again become healthy. Chase Anderson is also expected to come off the disabled list sometime during late July or early August.  Whether Milwaukee decides to make moves or not, they should still be hanging around the top of National League Central.

Brewers moves: Sogard in, Broxton out

Second baseman Eric Sogard is back and centerfielder Keon Broxton is out. Those were the transactions announced Saturday by Milwaukee, which is in the midst of a season-worst six-game losing streak. Sogard had been on the disabled list with an ankle injury since early July. Before that, the 31-year-old had been one of the pleasant […]

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Report: Brewers interested in Detroit 2B Ian Kinsler

Milwaukee may be in a bit of a free fall, but the team is apparently still looking to make moves to help its chances to win the NL Central and get back to the playoffs for the first time in six years. The latest evidence comes from ESPN’s Buster Olney, who tweeted Saturday morning that […]

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Brewers losing streak reaches six games

Make it six straight losses for the Milwaukee Brewers. Manager Craig Counsell’s team couldn’t figure out Philadelphia starter Aaron Nola in a 6-1 loss on Friday night. The righty went seven innings, giving up just one run on five hits while striking out nine to earn his seventh win of the year. It continued a […]

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Report: Brewers linked to another bullpen arm

The Brewers once again are reported to have interest in another relief pitcher. This time it’s Mets closer Addison Reed according to Marc Carig, a Mets writer for Newsday. The Brewers have now been linked to half a dozen different pitchers, most being relief pitchers. Many of the reports are continuing to say that the […]

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Brewers lose again, lead in NL Central down to one game

PITTSBURGH | In a span of a week, the Brewers have seen their lead in the NL Central go from 5 1/2 games to just one over the Cubs. Chicago has won six straight. Milwaukee has lost 5 in a row after a 4-2 loss in Pittsburgh Thursday afternoon. Brewers pitcher Jimmy Nelson didn’t have […]

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Guerra can’t find fastball as Marlins avoid sweep

MILWAUKEE — The Miami Marlins avoided a weekend sweep by striking early in a 10-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers Sunday afternoon at Miller Park.

Miami outfielder Marcell Ozuna hit a pair of home runs, including a three-run blast in the third inning that gave the Marlins the lead for good. Milwaukee’s Junior Guerra was tagged for eight hits and four runs in four-plus innings in which his fastball topped out at 92.1 MPH. Guerra’s average fastball this season travels just 90 MPH.

“Yeah, there’s something up,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of Guerra’s struggles. “There’s always something up when you’re not having success. The velocity is lower than last year and I think he can be successful with better location. That’s what we’ll work on.”

Eric Thames and Orlando Arcia went yard for the Brewers, but the offense did little to make up for the 17 hits Miami was able to record. In addition to Ozuna’s success at the plate, J.T. Realmuto went 3-for-6 with two RBI and Christian Yelich went 4-for-5 with a run driven in.

Milwaukee also sent Paolo Espino to Triple A, while announcing Brent Suter as the replacement for Chase Anderson in Monday’s start against the Baltimore Orioles. Anderson hit the 10-day DL with an oblique strain suffered on Wednesday.

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.

Arizona’s pitching silences Milwaukee in a 3-2 win

Milwaukee had few answers for Arizona’s pitching staff Saturday night in a 3-2 loss at Chase Field.

The Brewers managed just two hits all night, though one of them was a 2-run homer from Hernan Perez, his ninth on the year. But that’s all they’d get against starter Zack Godley and a trio of relievers, including closer Fernando Rodney, who came on for his 16th save of the year in the ninth inning.

Milwaukee’s Junior Guerra didn’t pitch poorly – he went six innings, giving up three runs on five hits – but he took the loss thanks to a two-run shot from Chris Drury in the sixth inning to give the Diamondbacks a 3-2 lead. Guerra is now 1-1 on the year.

Guerra’s departure allowed for the debut of the Brewers’ top pitching prospect – Josh Hader. The big lefty walked the first batter he faced, got a pair of fly outs, issued an intentional walk and then got his first-ever Major League strikeout.

“He had a good inning,” manager Craig Counsell said afterwards. “He got the first batter jitters out of the way. After that, I thought he locked in and he pitched very well.”

Hader was the second of the Brewers top prospects to get called up, joining outfielder Brett Phillips. But that number soon became three, they were joined on Saturday but the club’s No. 1 prospect in outfielder Lewis Brinson. He got the call after the team put second baseman Jonathan Villar on the 10-day disabled list with a lower back injury. Brinson could make his debut in the series finale against Arizona on Sunday afternoon.

Brewers fall to Giants in Phillips’ debut

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Brewers outfield prospect Brett Phillips made his Major League debut Monday night, but it came in a 7-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants.

Junior Guerra held the Giants to two runs (one earned) over five innings, scattering seven hits. But bullpen struggles once again doomed the Crew, as five runs crossed the plate over the final two innings.

“Tonight was a night we didn’t do a good enough job offensively, but we certainly have to get some guys getting some outs down there,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Rob [Scahill] was a pitch away from getting out of the inning, but that’s a big spot, and a spot where you’ve got to make a pitch.”

Counsell was referring to the bases-loaded double from former Brewers Aaron Hill in the eighth inning. Milwaukee’s offense was stifled by San Francisco starter Jeff Samardzija, who went 7.2 innings, striking out 10 batters and allowing just a single earned run on seven hits.

One of those hits allowed was to Phillips, who was called up from Triple A Colorado Springs earlier in the day to replace Travis Shaw (paternity leave). The 23-year-old finished 1-for-3 at the plate with an up-and-down performance on defense. He gunned down Denard Span on an attempted double, but also dropped a fly ball in the eighth inning.

“If I could, I would trade the base hit and throwing the guy out [for a win], but that’s the game of baseball,” Phillips said. “You’ve got to come back tomorrow and go out there and play hard.”

Tempers flare as Brewers fall to Diamondbacks 4-2

MILWAUKEE — Frustrations appeared to grow for the Milwaukee Brewers after a 4-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 10-inning contest at Miller Park Friday night.

Not only was it Milwaukee’s fifth straight loss, but Brewers manager Craig Counsell was ejected in the sixth inning for arguing with an umpire. The call in question was a missed scoring opportunity where first baseman Eric Thames was called out at home plate while trying to score from third base on a passed ball. The Diamondbacks recovered the ball in time to tag Thames out. The former Korean League star couldn’t help but notice things were stacking up against them.

“Yeah, it’s just [laughs] it’s baseball,” Thames began. “Our team is showing heart, but everything that can go wrong — I mean, knock on wood, I wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt or anything, but besides that, everything’s going wrong.”

Thames was 0-for-4 at the plate while striking out twice. Jett Bandy and Hernan Pérez accounted for Milwaukee’s only scoring, with each driving in one run. Bandy’s RBI came on a solo home run in the sixth inning.

On a positive note for Milwaukee, Opening Day starter Junior Guerra rejoined the rotation to throw 5.2 innings of one-run ball, while striking out five Arizona batters. He returned from a calf strain suffered on the first game of the season, recently throwing a pair of minor league rehab games.

The Chicago Cubs took over first place in the National League Central, with Milwaukee trailing in second by a half game.

Brewers plan to bring Guerra back to rotation on Friday

MILWAUKEE — Prior to Tuesday’s series with the Toronto Blue Jays, Milwaukee Brewers starter Junior Guerra said he feels “really good,” and hopes to return to the rotation on Friday.

Milwaukee’s Opening Day starter suffered a right calf strain in the first game of the season, landing him on the disabled list. Since then, he’s been working through the rehab process, throwing a pair of minor league games, most recently on Saturday. In his start with the Triple A Sky Sox, Guerra allowed 11 hits and four runs (three earned), while striking out six batters.

Guerra was a welcome surprise as a 31-year-old rookie last season, ending the year with a 2.81 ERA and striking out 7.4 batters per nine innings. His return on Friday could be a positive one, but manager Craig Counsell says they won’t be rushing him back.

“We’re not there yet,” Counsell said. “…But if everything goes to plan, that’s what we’d like to happen. But getting Braun back, getting Junior back and having him take his normal turn, we’re definitely excited about that.”

Ryan Braun returned from the disabled list on Sunday, but went hitless (0-for-8) in both games since then.

Milwaukee makes it three straight wins with a 7-4 victory over Boston

The Milwaukee Brewers earned their third straight win last night, a 7-4 victory against the Boston Red Sox at Miller Park.

The Crew has scored more runs in the first inning of games than anyone else in the majors this year, and that continued Wednesday night, as RBI’s from Domingo Santana and Hernan Perez platted a pair of runs to take a 2-0 lead against starter Kyle Kendrick. Milwaukee would chase the Boston righty after just 4 1/3 innings of work, tagging him for six runs on 10 hits.

Perez finished 2 of 4 with a pair of RBI’s, while Keon Broxton and Eric Thames each had a pair of hits.

Milwaukee got the win despite starter Chase Anderson making it 4 1/3 innings. He gave up two runs on nine hits, while striking out four. He was replaced by Rob Scahill, who held the Red Sox scoreless over his 2 1/3 innings to pick up the win.

The only down note for Milwaukee on the night was watching Ryan Braun hobble off the field in the fifth inning with tightness in his left calf. Manager Craig Counsell didn’t know how severe the injury was, but did mention that he had been planning to give the outfielder Thursday off anyway. The game was Braun’s second since missing much of the team’s 6-game road trip last week with an arm injury.

The two teams will finish off their 3-game set Thursday afternoon with first pitch coming at 12:10 p.m.

Note:

Junior Guerra is getting closer to returning to the Milwaukee rotation. The team’s Opening Day starter is scheduled to make a rehab start on Monday for Double-A Biloxi. He’s been out since the season opener with a calf strain.