Painful opener as Brewers fall to Rockies 7-5, Guerra heads to DL

MILWAUKEE | This is not the way the Brewers scripted it. Missed opportunities, defensive miscues and an injured starting pitcher all add up to Milwaukee losing its season opener 7-5 to the Rockies on Monday afternoon at Miller Park.

Junior Guerra was off to a solid start before suffering a strained right calf. The injury occured while Guerra was bunting in his first plate appearance in the 3rd inning. He was forced to leave the game with the Rockies up 2-0. After the game manager Craig Counsell confirmed that Guerra will be heading to the disabled list. “It’s definitely a DL,” said Counsell. “We’ll know more tomorrow. It’s a big blow. We just lost our opening day starter for at least two games and probably more.”  Guerra was making his first career opening day start. He gave up just one hit over three innings, a two-run homer to Mark Reynolds. Guerra struck out four and did not walk a batter.

The Rockies (1-0) scored two more off relief pitcher Tommy Milone before the Brewers (0-1) struck for five runs in the 5th inning. Pinch hitter Jesus Aguilar and Eric Thames each had two-run doubles to tie the game at four off Rockies starting pitcher Jon Gray. Travis Shaw added an RBI double to put the Brewers up 5-4.

But Jonathan Villar made two costly defensive miscues in the 7th inning that cost the Brewers two runs. Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon hit what appeared to be a sure double play ball that Villar bobbled. Villar also bobbled a throw from catcher Jett Bandy while trying to cut down a runner stealing second allowing the go-ahead run to score.

The Brewers failed to score with runners at 2nd and 3rd and nobody out in the 8th. The Rockies added an insurance run in the 9th to beat the Brewers 7-5.

Milwaukee and Colorado will do it again Tuesday night at Miller Park. Zach Davies is expected to get the start for the Brewers against the Rockies Tyler Anderson.


Matt Garza will start the year on the DL, Brewers set their rotation

The Milwaukee Brewers have set their starting rotation for the first two series of the season, and Matt Garza is not a part of it.

The team announced Thursday afternoon that Garza would start the year on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right groin. The veteran made six starts in the spring and struggled, leaving Cactus League action with an ERA of 8.59. Garza was scheduled to pitch in Friday’s exhibition game against the Chicago White Sox at Miller Park.

Without Garza, the rotation is set so that Junior Guerra gets the ball on Opening Day against Colorado, followed by Zach Davies, Wily Peralta and Chase Anderson taking the other three games in the series. Jimmy Nelson will start the series opener against the Chicago Cubs next Friday.

Garza started last season on the disabled list and didn’t actually make his season debut until June 14. He finished 6-8 on the year with a 4.51 ERA, allowing just 11 runs over his final six starts of the season.

Brewers name Junior Guerra Opening Day starter

PHOENIX — Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell wanted to be sure a stellar rookie season at 31 years old wasn’t a fluke, but after consideration, named Junior Guerra the team’s Opening Day starter for the Apr. 3 game against the Colorado Rockies at Miller Park.

“It was unexpected. It was certainly the most pleasant surprise of the season for us,” Counsell said during a Feb. 27 session with the media. “He was a waiver claim. And to have the season he did with the consistency he did — he was one of the top starting pitchers in the National League.”

Counsell was referring to Guerra’s 2.81 ERA in the 2016 season, which ranked seventh among National League pitchers with at least 120 innings. Guerra hit his planned shut-down number of 121.2 innings in mid-September last season, but also spent some time in the minor leagues. Counsell has seen enough this spring to give Guerra the nod for Opening Day, after throwing 10 innings of two-run ball.

“He pitched really well last year,” Counsell said on Thursday. “I know he has a different story, but for his [121.1] innings [last year], he was really one of the better starters in the National League. At this point, he’s pitched really well. That’s what it boils down to.”

Guerra drew trade interest from several teams this offseason, but Milwaukee wisely kept him around. His original plan was to play in the Venezuelan Winter League playoffs, but the Brewers urged him to sit out due to some elbow issues that crept up late in the MLB season.

Guerra figures to be a main component to Milwaukee’s pitching staff this year, with his main weapon being the split-finger fastball.

“The split-finger, which is really the pitch that makes him dangerous, it by nature that pitch takes a while to get going,” Counsell said of Guerra via Fox Sports Wisconsin. “It’s a difficult pitch, that’s why a lot of guys don’t throw it. In the age of trying to get a swing-and-miss, it’s a big swing-and-miss pitch if you can master it, if you can get a feel for it and get a handle on it.”

Gennett and Brinson combine for five hits as the Brewers beat the Rangers 5-0

The Milwaukee Brewers earned their first win in Cactus League action Monday afternoon, shutting out the Texas Rangers 5-0.

Top prospect Lewis Brinson went 3-for-3 and had an RBI as the leadoff man, while left fielder Scooter Gennett was 2 of 2 with a walk to help the Brewers improve to 1-2 in spring training.

In total, the Crew managed to belt out 11 hits, with shortstop Orlando Arcia joining Brinson and Gennett with multiple hits.

Junior Guerra got the start for Milwaukee, allowing just one hit in one scoreless inning of work. Six other pitchers, including Jhan Marinez (W, 1-0) and Tyler Cravy (H, 1), limited the Rangers to just two hits the rest of the way.

Milwaukee will take on the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday.

Braun headlines Brewers 2016 season awards

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was named the Most Valuable Player as part of a season-ending awards list released Monday by the Milwaukee chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Braun led the Brewers with a .305 batting average in 2016, adding a .903 OPS and driving in 91 runs.

The five-member panel selected Junior Guerra as the club’s Most Valuable Pitcher after leading the Crew with a 2.81 ERA and a 9-3 record.

Others earning recognition from the BBWAA were Jonathan Villar (Top Newcomer), Hernan Perez (Unsung Hero), and Chris Carter (Good Guy Award).

Villar and Carter were also considered by the panel for the MVP award.

Milwaukee avoids the sweep, beats Cincinnati 7-0

The Milwaukee Brewers managed to avoided the sweep last night, taking out the Cincinnati Reds 7-0 to salvage one game of their three-game series.

The Brewers got it done with a stellar outing on the mound from rookie Junior Guerra. In his third start since coming off the disabled list, Guerra threw six shutout innings, allowing just three hits and striking out five. It was his second-straight win and it moved him to 9-3 on the season. Since returning, Guerra’s ERA is 1.88 after giving up just three runs in the last 14 1/3 innings pitched.

Offensively, Milwaukee was led by outfielder Domingo Santana, whose three-run home run in the top of the seventh inning essentially sealed the game. Second baseman Scooter Gennett had a two-run homer, his 12th on the season, while catcher Many Pina was 2 of 3 from the plate, including two-run single in the second.

The win leaves Milwaukee 3-4 on their current 11-game road trip. They’ll be in Chicago tonight to open a four-game set with the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Junior Guerra to rejoin Brewers rotation

MILWAUKEE — Junior Guerra hasn’t pitched in the majors since Aug. 3, but is slated to rejoin the Brewers rotation after a stint on the disabled list.

He threw a minor league rehab assignment Saturday for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, going three and 1/3 innings, giving up just one hit. He’s been recalled after what appears to be a successful rehabilitation from right elbow inflammation. Assuming there are no setbacks, he’ll be eligible to pitch again on Sept. 2.

In 17 major league appearances this season, Guerra has a 7-3 record and a 2.93 ERA.

According to Adam McCalvy, reliever Michael Blazek is also on the mend after dealing with a strained forearm. He landed on the 15-day DL on Aug. 16.

Brewers lose, Guerra to land on DL

PHOENIX — While the Milwaukee Brewers lost 9-3 to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday, they will also lose starter Junior Guerra to the disabled list with right elbow inflammation.

Wily Peralta has been recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs to take Guerra’s spot in the rotation Tuesday night against the Atlanta Braves. The inflammation occurred Wednesday against the San Diego Padres, in which Guerra lasted four innings and gave up four earned runs in a 12-3 loss. Guerra has yet to officially be placed on the DL.

Guerra is one of Milwaukee bright spots this season, having thrown 107 and 1/3 innings with a 2.93 ERA — the best of any Milwaukee starter. Peralta had the league’s worse ERA of 6.68 before being sent to the Skysox on June 12. Since then, he’s logged a 6.31 ERA in 41 and 1/3 innings.

The Brewers lost to the Diamondbacks Sunday afternoon after Jimmy Nelson failed to make it into the fifth inning for his third straight outing. He allowed seven hits and six earned runs, while walking three and hitting two batters.

Junior Guerra, Brewers earn 3-1 win over the Pirates

Junior Guerra’s rookie season continues to be one of the stories of the year for the Milwaukee Brewers.

The 31-year-old took a shutout into the ninth inning on Friday night against Pittsburgh before giving way to closer Jeremy Jeffress for the final out of a 3-1 win for Milwaukee. Guerra’s final line showed 8 2/3 innings pitched, allowing one run on four hits and striking out five. The outing dropped Guerra’s season ERA to 2.70, and it’s just 1.58 in the month of July.

Though the Brewers felt Guerra (7-2) had potential when they claimed him off of waivers last October, manager Craig Counsell admitted that no one could have expected this much from him.

“He’s performing at a really high level. I don’t think anybody thinks they accurately forecasted this,” Counsell said. “He was claimed for a reason. He was claimed because we thought there were possibilities there and we thought there was talent there.

“This level of success, maybe not. But success? Yeah, I thought he’d have success.”

The Brewers gave Guerra all the run support he’d need in the first when Chris Carter drilled a two-run homer off of Steven Bault (0-1). It was Carter’s first home run since July 8 and gives him 23 on the year. Outfielder Keon Broxton knocked in the other run on an RBI double in the sixth.

The win was Milwaukee’s fourth in their last five games.

It’ll be the same two teams on Saturday night at Miller Park. First pitch is set for 6:10.

Brewers Hit Out of Order vs. Nats

WASHINGTON — Junior Guerra’s second straight dominant starting pitching performance overshadowed one of the more brainless mistakes a baseball team can commit in a 1-0 win on Sunday over the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park.

In the top of the first inning, Ryan Braun innocently lined a single to center field with two outs in the inning. However, instantaneously, Nationals manager Dusty Baker emerged from the dugout to contest that the Brewers had batted out of turn. A quick scan of the lineup card indicated that the Brewers’ official order for the day had Jonathan Lucroy hitting in the three-hole, not Braun.

As a result, Lucroy was deemed out automatically and the inning concluded. Afterwards, Craig Counsell could only blame himself.

“I screwed up; I was going with some different lineups yesterday, with Ryan (Braun) in and out of the lineup,” Counsell said. “It’s not something that makes you feel very good, that’s for sure.”

Braun saw his hit get washed out as a result of the gaffe, and he and Lucroy combined to go 0-for-8 following the bad omens of the first inning. Fortunately, the game result did not reflect the error.

“Junior (Guerra) was phenomenal again,” said Braun. “It’s not the way either (myself or Lucroy) wanted to start our day, but fortunately we were able to get the win.”

According to the Brewers, the out-of-order blunder was the first instance of that in Major League Baseball since 2013, and the first occurrence by a Brewers team since 1996.