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.

Brewers provide updated timetable for Guerra’s return

PITTSBURGH — While the Brewers were finishing up a three-game series with the Pirates, manager Craig Counsell told MLB.com that he hopes to have Opening Day starter Junior Guerra back with the team by the end of May.

Guerra hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since exiting the Opening Day contest with the Rockies on Apr. 3 with a right calf strain. The injury initially carried a recovery timetable of six weeks. On Saturday, Guerra threw two simulated innings with Milwaukee’s Class-A affiliate Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. He’s expected to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday.

“Yesterday he threw basically two innings of work, and everything went really well,” Counsell said on Sunday of Guerra’s progress. “He’s going to stay up there today and do his normal workout program up there, and then he’s scheduled to do another live batting practice on Wednesday in Milwaukee.”

“All signs have been good. He’s responded very well. Wednesday will be the next step, and we’ll ramp up some of the on-field running activities this week, as well.”

Guerra didn’t get to show much this season, pitching just three innings with two earned runs before injuring the calf while running out a bunt. Last season, he finished with a surprising 2.81 ERA with 100 strikeouts and 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings.

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.”