Last strikes: Indians 3, Brewers 2

CLEVELAND – Seventeen last strikes for the 17 pitches thrown by Milwaukee reliever Dan Jennings in the Brewers’ 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night.

1. There’s a reason that Cleveland’s Corey Kluber is the owner of a pair of American League Cy Young Awards.

2. Kluber has been fantastic in nearly every start this year for the Indians, with one of the exceptions being in early May against the Brewers. Milwaukee knocked off Cleveland that day 3-2 behind a home run from reliever Brent Suter who entered the game for an injured Wade Miley in the first inning.

3. Tuesday in Cleveland was a bit different.

4. Kluber pitched seven innings against the Brewers allowing just one run on seven hits and striking out seven batters.

5. Milwaukee scored in the third inning on an RBI-single by outfielder Lorenzo Cain after Manny Piña doubled and Jonathan Villar legged out an infield single before Cain stepped to the plate.

6. “We really had that one good opportunity [in the third]. Christian [Yelich] hit that one ball right on the screws and ended up lining out,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said about Kluber’s performance. “I thought we did a decent job against him. We hit some other balls pretty good and kind of right at some guys. We had some baserunners and just couldn’t get the next hit to make it another rally.”

7. Kluber allowed only three baserunners after Milwaukee scored in the third inning. No one made it into scoring position, either.

8. “It’s both side of the plate, that’s the tough part,” third baseman Travis Shaw said about Kluber. “He commands his fastball and his breaking ball to both sides of the plate. With a lot of guys you can – I don’t want to say eliminate certain zones of the plate – but with him you can’t. It’s just strike after strike after strike. If you don’t go up there ready to go you’re going to be behind and then you’re at his will.”

9. The offense struggling on Tuesday night should not come as a surprise. Kluber has yet to allow more than three runs in a start all season and has only allowed three earned runs in the five starts since the Brewers beat him on May 8.

10. Kluber’s performance out shadowed a terrific outing by Milwaukee’s Junior Guerra. He went six innings allowing seven hits and three runs while striking out five. Most nights, that’s a good enough effort to win. Tuesday it wasn’t.

11. “After the homer to Ramirez [Guerra] was really good,” Counsell said. “I thought he locked in and started elevating a little bit and made some nice pitches to a tough lineup.”

12. Prior to the game Shaw was spotted on the field prior to the game wearing the jersey of Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James. Shaw is an Ohio native and fan of both the Cavaliers and Cleveland Browns.

13. Following one of the games against the New York Mets a couple weekends ago Shaw had told me that he was going to attempt to attend Game 3 of the NBA Finals should the Cavs make it. He did say prior to Tuesday night’s game that he was unable to work something out to be able to go on Wednesday night.

14. Shaw did have something to smile about, as he crushed a home run in the ninth inning to bring the Brewers within one. The blast went an estimated 407 feet while clanging off the right field foul pole.

15. Tuesday night also happened to be a night in which the Cleveland Indians were honoring former Wisconsin All-American and Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas. Both Thomas and former NFL wide receiver Andrew Hawkins threw out first pitches prior to the game.

16. Thomas also sat down with me prior to the game. That conversation can be read here.

17. The Brewers and Indians will wrap up this quick two game set on Wednesday afternoon. Chase Anderson (4-3, 4.22 ERA) will be on the hill for the Brewers and Carlos Carrasco (6-4, 4.50) is slated to start for the Indians. First pitch is set for 12:10 p.m. CT.

Last strikes: Brewers 4, Mets 3

MILWAUKEE – Fourteen last strikes from Milwaukee’s 4-3 walk-off win in 10 innings over the New York Mets on Friday night at Miller Park.

1. It wasn’t pretty at the end, but the win counts the same for the Milwaukee Brewers.

2. Third baseman Travis Shaw drew a walk-off walk in the tenth inning to give the Brewers (32-20) a 4-3 win over the Mets (25-22). Shaw finished the day with three runs batted in, as he blasted a 398-foot home run in the second inning and an RBI-single in the third as well as a double to lead off the ninth. It’s easy to point at him as a big reason as to why the Brewers improved upon their National League leading record.

3. Shaw now has a team-high 13 home runs on the season and has quietly been the most consistent member of Milwaukee’s lineup. In Shaw’s last 16 games he’s batting .305 (18-for-59), has 18 runs batted in and seven home runs. While he wasn’t acquired with the fanfare of Lorenzo Cain or Christian Yelich and doesn’t have the history with the Brewers that Ryan Braun has, he’s been the best offensively this year for the team.

4. “He’s just a presence, a left-handed presence for us in the middle of our lineup that’s in there every day and does a heck of a job,” manager Craig Counsell said of Shaw. “There’s nights that he’s obliviously providing power like he did tonight to get us off to the lead and then in the end he draws a walk to win it.”

5. Obviously, walk-off walks are a bit of an oddity in the game of baseball. It may have been even more odd that the Brewers were only in that situation because of a blown lead by closer Corey Knebel.

6. Knebel entered in the ninth inning with Milwaukee holding a 3-2 lead to start the frame. He recorded two quick outs before walking the next two batters to bring Mets third baseman Jose Bautista to the plate.

7. Bautista, who was just signed by the Mets earlier this week, singled to through the left side of the infield scoring Michael Conforto from second base and tying the game at three. Knebel then issued another walk to Luis Guillorme to load the bases before Counsell opted to pull Knebel in favor of Jeremy Jeffries.

8. Jeffries promptly got shortstop Amed Rosario to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the inning and bring the Brewers to bat.

9. “[Jeffress] did a nice job, we played some good defense for him in the tenth,” Counsell said after the game. “Domingo [Santana]’s throw was absolutely beautiful, he made a couple nice plays tonight. But JJ did the job again.”

10. It’s always surprising to see the Brewers blow a lead late in a game. Knebel has been limited in action this season due to a hamstring injury that had him on the disabled list for several weeks, but everyone else has been fantastic.

11. Nights like this one are going to happen. No team is perfect, and there will probably be a game similar to this one at some point in the season that the Brewers aren’t fortunate enough to come away with. It happens, and it shouldn’t overshadow just how great this group of relievers has been for the Brewers this season.

12. Junior Guerra obviously doesn’t get credit for the win in this game due to the bullpen’s miscue late, but he was fantastic. The only damage he allowed were a pair of home runs, one to Rosario and one to Conforto.

13. Guerra pitched six innings allowing a pair of runs on five hits while striking out three. He doesn’t have over-powering stuff, but he’s now got a sub-3 ERA (2.98) and has been exactly what Milwaukee has needed from that spot in the rotation.

14. The Brewers and Mets will play the third game of this four-game set on Saturday afternoon at Miller Park. Chase Anderson (4-3, 3.86 ERA) will get the start for the Brewers, while lefty Jason Vargas (1-3, 9.87) is on the hill for the Mets.

Last strikes: Brewers 7, Diamondbacks 2

PHOENIX – Nineteen last strikes for the 19 strikes thrown by Brewers reliever Josh Hader in the Brewers 7-2 win over the Diamondbacks on Monday night.

1. The biggest moment of the day for the Brewers may have oddly enough come prior to the game when outfielder Ryan Braun was deemed unable to play due to back tightness. Braun was scratched from the lineup and Jonathan Villar was placed into the lineup.

2. Villar had a terrific day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a home run and three runs scored. There’s no predicting what Braun would have done, obviously, but Villar’s contributions were unexpected, to say the least. The home run, his second of the season, was a 401-foot blast just to the left of dead-center.

3. It’s very important (to be ready) because it’s simple when you work hard in the field,” Villar said of being unexpectedly inserted into the lineup. “When you don’t play, don’t worry, keep going, you never know what’s going on.”

4. The Brewers were able to strike first in the second inning on an Orlando Arcia double to center field. A few questionable plays and decisions led to the Brewers being able to get a pair across the plate.

5. After Manny Piña doubled down the left field line and Villar followed it up with a single to left field, Villar was all but picked off of first base. However, Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt failed to make a throw to second to nab Villar while in a run down. It appeared as if Goldschmidt was worried about the not-so-fleet-of-foot Piña scoring from third.

6. This created runners on second and third with two outs for Arcia, Milwaukee’s No. 8 hitter. With starting pitcher Junior Guerra on deck, the Diamondbacks decided to pitch to Arcia as opposed to walking him to face Guerra with two outs. That decision backfired as Arcia laced a 3-2 breaking ball into center scoring both runners.

7. “I thought we had good at-bats with guys in scoring position a bunch tonight,” manager Craig Counsell said after the win. “Starting all the way back in the second inning with Villar and Arcia having two great at-bats to give us a two-run lead.”

8. Early on, Guerra looked terrific on the hill. He didn’t allow a base runner until walking John Ryan Murphy in the third inning and had a no-hitter until the fourth when Goldschmidt knocked a single to right field.

9. When he reached the fourth inning Guerra looked human. He allowed a leadoff walk to Daniel Descalso to start the inning which was followed by a Paul Goldschmidt single. Descalso was able to score on a Steven Souza Jr. double to left, and Goldschmidt later scored on a sacrifice fly from shortstop Nick Ahmed.

10. That was all the damage the Diamondbacks were able to inflict on Guerra, other than the fourth inning he only allowed one base hit and a pair of walks. He pitched six innings allowing two earned runs on three hits while striking out three and walking four.

11. “Really needed it,” Counsell said of the length Guerra was able to provide. “It was a lot of fastball tonight for sure. And it was a good fastball, it was a very good fastball tonight. There was a bunch of 95s up there, so probably his best fastball tonight. He just didn’t feel great with the split at times, so he stuck with the fastball and did a nice job of it.”

12. Hader came on in relief and held the lead for the Brewers, although he didn’t look like his usual self. Hader allowed two hits and struck out a pair on 31 pitches across two innings. He allowed more contact than usual to Arizona hitters but was still able to manage his way through two scoreless.

13. Think about that for a second, Hader pitched two scoreless innings and was thought of as not himself because he didn’t strikeout a majority of the batters he faced. Hader has become so dominant that it’s become the expectation that no one reaches base against him.

14. Tyler Saladino, pinch-hitting for Hader, then added extra insurance with an inside-the-park home run to center, past a diving A.J. Pollack all the way to the wall in the ninth. It was the 28th inside-the-park home run in franchise history, and the first since Arcia hit one last season.

15. “[It’s a] good feeling, yeah, because it got by him,” Saladino said.” And then it’s like time to kick it in gear kind of thing at the same thing. Everything you got, kind of turn it on. It doesn’t happen very often, so you have to dig a little bit deeper than normal.”

16. Saladino’s inside-the-park home run was also the first pinch-hit inside-the-park home run in Brewers’ franchise history.

17. “Yeah, I can’t remember the last time I had to do something like that. There’s no way to get ready for that, it’s just everything you’ve got.”

18. The win gives the Brewers the most wins in the National League, tied with the Atlanta Braves. The Brewers also have the second-best winning percentage in the league behind Atlanta. The saying is that a team cannot win the division early in the season, but it can certainly be lost then. The Brewers are doing more than enough to not lose it right now.

19. Milwaukee and Arizona are back in action on Tuesday night at Chase Field in Phoenix, Az. Jhoulys Chacin (3-1, 4.00 ERA) is on the hill for the Brewers while Zack Greinke (3-2, 3.70) gets the start for the Diamondbacks. First pitch is set for 8:40 p.m. CT.

Brewers close home stand with loss to Cleveland

The Milwaukee Brewers finished a five-game homestead with a 2-3 record after splitting two games with the Cleveland Indians.

After taking the first game of the series 3-2, the Brewers fell to the Indians 6-2 on Wednesday afternoon. Junior Guerra started for the Brewers, pitching five innings, allowing four runs on six hits while striking out nine. He was hurt by the long ball as he allowed a three-run home run to Cleveland outfielder Tyler Naquin as part of a four-run fourth inning.

It was difficult for the Brewers to generate much offensively against Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco pitched a complete-game, allowing just two runs on five hits while striking out 14 on the day. Outfielder Lorenzo Cain collected Milwaukee’s only extra base hit on the afternoon, a double in the eighth inning.

The loss dropped Milwaukee to 21-16 on the season, tied for second place in the NL Central.

The Brewers now begin an 11-day, three-city road trip against the Colorado Rockies on Thursday night at 7:40 p.m.

News and Notes

The Brewers made two roster moves on Wednesday prior to the game against the Cleveland Indians. The Brewers placed pitcher Wade Miley on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right oblique suffered in his start on Tuesday night. Milwaukee also placed utility man Nick Franklin on the 10-day DL with a strained right quad suffered Tuesday night while beating out a potential double-play. It was Franklin’s season debut after spending the beginning of the season in the minor leagues.

Milwaukee activated closer Corey Knebel from the disabled list prior to the game on Wednesday against the Indians. He pitched one inning against Cleveland Wednesday afternoon allowing a solo home run to Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor.

Tyler Salidino was also re-called from Triple-A to take the place of Franklin. He did not play on Wednesday.

The Brewers are also expected to activate reliever Boone Logan from the disabled list on Thursday prior to Milwaukee’s game in Colorado. Logan has missed the entire season to date with a left triceps injury.

The 10-game, three-city road trip for the Brewers is the longest of the season. After a four-game series in Colorado, the Crew will travel to Arizona for a three-game set and then wrap things up in Minnesota against the Twins for three games.

After the road trip, the Brewers will have a season-high 10-game homestead against Arizona, the New York Mets, and St. Louis Cardinals.

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.

Brewers make Sept. 1 call-ups

It’s September, which means baseball rosters can expand, and the Milwaukee Brewers wasted no time in doing so.

The team announced it had recalled outfielder Brett Phillips, along with pitchers Junior Guerra, Wei-Chung Wang and Brandon Woodruff. Those four had been with Milwaukee’s Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs.

Woodruff, who pitched very well in three games last month, will get the start on Saturday against the Washington Nationals.

Also coming to the big leagues is pitcher Taylor Williams, who was in Double-A with the Biloxi Shuckers. It will be Williams’ MLB debut.

Earlier on Friday, Milwaukee announced it had reinstated pitcher Brent Suter and catcher Andrew Susac from the 10-day disabled list.

All the players involved were already on the team’s 40-man roster, meaning they didn’t have to make any further moves to accommodate the new additions.

The Crew is in a tight playoff race as the regular season enters its final full month. As of Friday afternoon, the Brewers were 2 1/2 games back of Colorado for the second wild card spot and 3 1/2 games back of Chicago in the NL Central.

Milwaukee will continue its series with the Nationals Friday at Miller Park. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m.

Guerra headed to Triple-A

Brewers opening day starter, Junior Guerra, has been optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs. Guerra came into the season with high expectations after posting a 9-3 record and a 2.81 ERA for Milwaukee last season. He was expected to be the Brewers “ace” this season, but has fell well short of that.

Guerra is 1-4 this season with Milwaukee and has a 4.96 ERA. In 61 2/3 innings this season, Guerra has already given up more home runs than he did last season, where he logged over 121 innings.  He’s also been walking batters at a higher rate than last season.

The Brewers recalled Wei-Chung Wang from Triple-A to complete the move. Fans may remember Wang from the 2014 season, as the Brewers claimed him in the rule-5 draft. He appeared in 14 games for Milwaukee that season. Wang pitched 17 1/3 innings and had an ERA of 10.90 and a WHIP of 2.25 in 2014.

With Chase Anderson and Matt Garza both on the disabled list, the Brewers may look to call-up a starter in the near future. Brandon Woodruff and Taylor Jungmann have been two names who have been rumored to be recalled.

 

Cubs outlast Brewers to win in 11th inning

MILWAUKEE — Chicago Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward will get credit for the 2-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers, but the 11-inning loss was set up by some early control issues.

Junior Guerra was pulled after three innings due to a slow start that saw the Opening Day starter walk four Chicago batters. His replacement, Josh Hader, fared much better, throwing three innings with six strikeouts and just a single walk issues. Hader showed his versatility after getting work out of the bullpen in Friday night’s win.

A factor leading to Milwaukee’s loss in Saturday’s rematch can be summed up by their record with runners in scoring position over the first two games of the series: 0-for-16.

“I don’t think we created enough opportunities to score tonight,” said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. “Expecting two-out hits every night to score runs, we have to do a little better than that.”

Milwaukee’s only offense came in the form of a first-inning RBI double from Ryan Braun. Chicago kept playing to its opportunities, finally breaking through in the seventh inning with a Kris Bryant RBI single that tied the game 1-1.

Then came the mistake that mattered.

Jared Hughes, who came in to pitch the final two innings for Milwaukee, left a slider up in the zone for Heyward, who blasted the ball out of the park with what would prove to be the winning run.

“I wish I could have that one back right there,” said Hughes. “I missed over the plate and Heyward went down and did a good job of hitting it hard. Overall, if we keep pitching like that, I think we’re going to be OK, though.”

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.