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.

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.

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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.