Last strikes: Brewers 6, Cardinals 4

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Twenty-seven last strikes for the 27 outs recorded by Milwaukee’s bullpen in Monday night’s 6-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

1. They say that each trip to the baseball park could bring something that you’ve never seen before. Monday night at Busch Stadium in St. Louis was just that for some people.

2. Dan Jennings – one of Milwaukee’s regular relief pitchers – toed the rubber at approximately 7:25 p.m. CT Monday night to start the bottom half of the first inning. He threw three pitches, a slider, a two-seam fastball, and another slider before being greeted on the mound by manager Craig Counsell.

3. Jennings induced a groundball to second baseman Travis Shaw for the first out of the game off of the bat of Matt Carpenter before hitting the showers. His work for the day was done.

4. This wasn’t a freak injury, or an ejection, though. This was done by design. In fact, Freddy Peralta was in the bullpen warming up at the same time as Jennings during the first inning. Peralta replaced Jennings after just one hitter.

5. “Somebody asked me if I was going to five tonight before the game and I said, “five pitches or five innings?’” Jennings said. “No, we kind of knew what the deal was. Props to everybody that came in behind me and the position players for getting it done. That’s a grind right there, that’s an absolute grind and it was fun to watch.”

6. It was the first time Jennings had started a game since 2008 when he was in short-season A-ball.

7. That wasn’t where the bizarre events stopped, either.

8. It rained on and off throughout the middle innings, but seemed to pick up each time the Cardinals were at the plate, Josh Hader struggled on the mound, and then the tarp was pulled on, then off, then on again, and then finally off for good in a span of roughly 14 minutes.

9. “It was wet; it was raining,” Hader said after his outing in which he allowed three runs on three hits in an inning. “Obviously, it’s not the easiest thing. But I made a mistake, threw two fastballs down the middle. You saw what happened.”

10. It didn’t stop there, either.

11. In the sixth inning the Brewers were able to load the bases on a walk, hit by pitch, and another walk. Ryan Braun stepped to the plate and drew a four-pitch walk to force a run in for the Crew giving them a 2-1 lead.

12. Mike Moustakas strolled up next and hit a shallow fly ball to St. Louis outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna caught the fly ball and fired home as Jesús Aguilar tagged up from third base to try and score.

13. First of all, it was a great send by Eddy. It was a very nice, aggressive play by Eddy,” Counsell said.

14. Obviously, Aguilar isn’t exactly the person who pops into someone’s mind when ‘fleet of foot’ is whispered aloud, or at least that’s what Shaw thought.

15. Shaw was on second base when Moustakas was at the plate and executed some smart base running. He tagged up from second to third on a ball that he would normally have no chance of reaching third on. What he was able to do, though, was get in the vision of Cardinals third baseman Jedd Gyorko.

16. Gyorko cut the throw off and chased Shaw, who immediately stopped in his tracks in the baseline. Shaw was tagged out, but not before Aguilar had crossed home plate.

17. “Yeah, with Aggy on third I wanted to do that,” Shaw said. “It wasn’t a very deep fly ball. If it was a deep fly ball it would be a different story.

18. “As soon as it gets cut and Aggy scores I just slammed on the brakes.”

19. “I don’t think the throw gets to the plate,” Counsell said. “The question, to me, is could it have been cut and thrown home. Travis did really nice baserunning to put himself in the vision of Gyorko. It was a good play all around. Good play by Eddy. Good play by Travis.”

20. In the eighth inning the Brewers sent Eric Thames to the plate to pinch-hit for reliever Corbin Burnes. He laced a one-out triple under the glove of José Martínez in right field. Moustakas was intentionally walked following that to bring Erik Kratz to the plate.

21. Moustakas, entering the game with a grand total of 15 stolen bases in his eight-year career, drew a pick-off attempt from Bud Norris. That throw hit Moustakas and bounced away far enough to score Thames from third base and give the Brewers a 5-4 lead.

22. The Brewers were able to add an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning as Christin Yelich doubled home Lorenzo Cain to make it a 6-4 Milwaukee lead. When the bottom half of the inning came, Corey Knebel – not Jeremy Jeffress – walked out of the left field bullpen at Busch Stadium.

23. In fact, Jeffress wasn’t even in the bullpen.

24. “JJ was unavailable tonight,” Counsell said. “He’s experiencing some neck spams that made it unable for him to pitch. He wasn’t in the bullpen all day.”

25. The ninth inning was no problem for Knebel as he struck out three of the four batters he faced, with the lone base runner reaching via a hit-by-pitch.

26. All in all, the plan of a bullpen game – which really was just a Freddy Peralta start in which he didn’t face the first batter – worked out for the Brewers. This was a huge win for a club attempting to make the postseason for the first time since 2011. Now, they’re one step closer, even if this was the required avenue to get there.

27. So, yeah, anytime you come to the ballpark you may see something that rarely happens. In the next few days that might include the Brewers punching a postseason ticket.

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.

Brewers beat Cardinals in 10 innings

The Milwaukee Brewers entered the ninth inning with a 4-3 lead over the St. Louis Cardinals but failed to close the game out as Dexter Fowler’s sacrifice fly tied the game at 4.

That bit of misfortune didn’t cost Milwaukee the win, however, as St. Louis closer Greg Holland walked four batters in the top of the 10th to gift the Brewers a 5-4 victory.

Matt Albers, filling in for the injured Corey Knebel, pitched both the ninth and 10th innings for Milwaukee, earning the win.

Offensively for Milwaukee, Eric Sogard went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a run scored, and Travis Shaw scored three runs and collected two hits.

The Brewers and Cardinals rematch for the second game of a three game set on Tuesday night in St. Louis. Brent Super is the starter for Milwaukee and Carlos Martinez takes the hill for the Cardinals. First pitch is set for 7:15 PM CT.

Last strikes: Cubs 5, Brewers 2

MILWAUKEE – Seventeen last strikes for the 17 batters faced by Brewers’ relievers in Milwaukee’s 5-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Saturday evening.

1. The Milwaukee Brewers entered the ninth inning of Saturday’s game with the Chicago Cubs holding a 2-1 lead thanks to Lorenzo Cain’s sacrifice fly in the eighth inning. Without closer Corey Knebel available, manager Craig Counsell turned to Jacob Barnes to record the final three outs of the game for the Brewers.

2. From that point on, things could not have gone much worse for Milwaukee.

3. While Barnes is handed the loss in relief, placing the blame solely on him would be foolish. Barnes didn’t pitch poorly, but rather the defense failed him.

4. The Brewers potentially had an opportunity to end the game when Cubs infielder Javy Baez stepped to the plate. There were runners on first and second with one out when Baez hit a two-hopper to third baseman Travis Shaw. Shaw was unable to field the ball – which possibly could have resulted in a game-ending double play – leaving the bases loaded with one out.

5. “It was a tough hop, there’s no question it was an in-between hop,” Counsell said of the ball Shaw mis-handled. “Doubtful that we would’ve turned two. I was just thinking [one] out when he hit it.”

6. Utility man Ben Zobrist then stepped to the dish and knocked a grounder in the vicinity of first baseman Eric Thames. Thames made a terrific diving stop to get the ball but was hesitant in his decision making on the play. He eventually flipped the ball to first base with Barnes covering, but Barnes was late getting to the bag and entirely missed it, resulting in a game-tying infield single for Zobrist.

7. “It’s part of the game, unfortunately,” Barnes said of the ninth inning collapse. “You execute pitches and unfortunately sometimes it kind of goes in the wrong spot. That’s all you can do. I look back on it and obviously it’s frustrating and no one wants to ever give up runs but I think I executed pretty well for the most part and unfortunately, they were able to find some holes and get some infield hits.”

8. Those back-to-back plays cost the Brewers an early season win. Chicago’s Ian Happ promptly stepped to the plate and laced a two-run single into left center and moved up to second base on Cain’s throw into third base. After an intentional walk to Kris Bryant, Chicago’s Jon Lester pinch hit for pitcher Pedro Strop and dropped down a squeeze bunt scoring Zobrist from third.

9. “[Barnes] pitched great. He broke probably three bats that inning,” Counsell said. “In the end we had a play to make on one of those and we just couldn’t make a play. I’m not sure on the first ball there’s an out to be had. Zobrist’s ball, I think there’s an out in there somewhere and certainly on Baez’s ball there’s an out.

10. “We’ve made too many infield mistakes, there’s no question,” Counsell said. “I think they are a good defensive infield, we’ve made defensive mistakes the past couple days.”

11. Whether or not the Brewers will be considered a good defensive infield – or team — at the end of the year is obviously yet to be known. What is factual is the fact that Milwaukee has committed 11 errors through six games on this home stand.

12. That doesn’t include plays like the one Thames and Barnes failed to execute at first base in the ninth and the ball Cain struggled to find in the sun on Bryant’s triple in the eighth. They can certainly be a good defensive team when it is all said and done, but they have not been one thus far.

13. All Milwaukee could muster in the bottom of the ninth was a single from Shaw before this one officially became a loss, and a wasted pitching performance from starter Zach Davies.

14. Davies was tremendous on the day, as was his counterpart, Yu Darvish of the Cubs. Davies struck out eight over six innings allowing one earned run on the day. Darvish went six innings as well, allowing two hits and one earned run while striking out nine.

15. The only damage done to the starting pitchers came by virtue of solo home runs. Thames launched a ball to the second deck in left field to open the scoring in the fourth for the Brewers. Bryant went deep off Davies in the sixth, a 407-foot blast into the seats in left field.

16. It’s far too early to panic, or even fret about this loss for Brewers fans. Teams lose games, it happens to all 30 franchises in baseball. But it’s the way the game was lost that makes this one a frustrating loss. It’s also a game that could potentially be looked back at near the end of the season as one that could have helped the Brewers in the playoff race.

17. The Brewers and Cubs finish off the four-game set on Sunday afternoon at 1:10PM CT at Miller Park. Chase Anderson will start for the Brewers and José Quintana will take the mound for the Cubs.

Brewers announce award winners

While the Milwaukee Brewers were unable to find their way into the postseason they did have a season not many expected. Today they announced which players have been honored with team postseason awards, as voted on by a five-person committee from the Milwaukee Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Brewers pitcher Brent Suter was voted as the team’s Unsung Hero winner. This year Suter bounced back and forth between Milwaukee and the minor leagues. He spent six separate stints with the Brewers, going 3-2 with a 3.42 earned run average in 22 games for the club. He made 14 starts for the team. Last year’s winner of the award was Hernán Pérez.

Sticking on the pitching staff, closer Corey Knebel was named the team’s Most Valuable Pitcher. Knebel made 76 appearances for the team, totaling 76 saves while posting a 1.78 ERA. He also was tied for the Major League lead in strikeouts by a reliever with 126, which was a team record. Knebel also set the Major League record for most consecutive relief appearances with a strikeout at 45. Last season Junior Guerra took home the award.

Third baseman Travis Shaw takes home multiple awards, winning the team Most Valuable Player and Newcomer of the Year. He was acquired via a trade with the Boston Red Sox last offseason. Shaw hit .273 with 31 home runs and 101 runs batted in for the Brewers this year. Shaw unseats Ryan Braun, who had been the team’s MVP the previous two seasons.

Travis Shaw’s 2-run walk-off HR pushes the Brewers past Chicago

Faced with the same extra innings situation they had been in the last two nights, the Milwaukee Brewers were determined to change the outcome on Saturday — and they did.

After watching the Chicago Cubs score in the top of the 10th inning in each of the last two games and go on to win, manager Craig Counsell’s club once again faced a deficit when they came to the plate at Miller Park in the 10th. But instead of just accepting a fourth straight loss, the Brewers kept their playoff hopes alive thanks to a 2-run, walk-off homer by Travis Shaw for a 4-3 win.

It was a 1-1 game until the top of the eighth inning when Kris Bryant drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, and it stayed that way heading to the bottom of the ninth.

Two things were going against the Brewers at that point — closer Wade Davis hadn’t blown a save in 2017 and Milwaukee hadn’t won a game when trailing after eight innings all year. Shortstop Orlando Arcia took care of the first part with a solo homer, and then, after Chicago got an RBI single from Jon Jay in the 10th inning, Shaw took care of the second part following up a Ryan Braun double with his 31st homer of the year and the win.

The victory guaranteed the Brewers would have a winning record, the first time since 2014. It also kept them in the race for the second wild card in the National League, as they pulled even with St. Louis, sitting 1 1/2 games behind Colorado. Both of those teams had yet to play Saturday.

Milwaukee will try to get the split of its four-game series with the Cubs on Sunday afternoon.

Brewers rally in 7th for 4-3 win over Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — The Milwaukee Brewers used a combination of defense and small ball to produce a seventh-inning rally to top the San Francisco Giants 4-3 Tuesday night at AT&T Park.

Down 3-2 in the seventh, Brewers third baseman Travis Shaw delivered his 81st RBI of the season to put Milwaukee on top for good. It started with a Neil Walker double that put Eric Thames on first base, finished off with a Ryan Braun sacrifice fly. Shaw’s liner resulted in a double and another run across the plate.

“We didn’t do it with a homer tonight. But you string together hits,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “That got the job done. You have to string together consecutive at-bats, I think, in this park. Four guys put together good at-bats.”

Milwaukee has hit 184 home runs this season while opponents have totaled 154 long balls against the Crew.

Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson had a respectable outing, but was pulled after 5.0 innings after walking three batters. He allowed three earned runs on seven hits while striking out six.

“I think [Nelson] had good stuff tonight,” Counsell recalled. “There were some times he lost some pitches, kind of gave them some free pitches…It certainly was a night where Jimmy had to battle through things.”

Milwaukee and San Francisco finish off the series Wednesday afternoon at 2:45 p.m. CT.

Milwaukee overcomes early deficit to beat Pittsburgh 7-6

Powered by five home runs, the Milwaukee Brewers came back from an early deficit to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-6 on Wednesday afternoon at Miller Park.

Manager Craig Counsell’s team trailed 4-0 entering the bottom of the third inning when their bats finally woke up. Centerfielder Keon Broxton drilled a solo home run, which was followed by a two-run shot from second baseman Neil Walker.

Things stayed 4-3 until the sixth inning, when third baseman Travis Shaw tied the game with his 26th homer of the year. The Pirates answered that with a run in the seventh, only to see Broxton hit another solo shot to tie things up in the bottom of the frame. After an Adam Frazier single gave Pittsburgh a 6-5 lead going to the bottom of the eighth inning, the Brewers showed off their resiliency as catcher Manny Pina hit a two-run homer that proved to be the game-winner.

The victory was the fourth straight for the Brewers, who improved to 2-43 this season when trailing after seven innings, and in doing so moved into sole possession of second place in the NL Central, 1 ½ games back of Chicago and a game in front of St. Louis.

After a rough first three innings, Jimmy Nelson settled in, going 6 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on eight hits while striking out seven. Anthony Swarzak picked up the win, while closer Corey Knebel earned his 24th save with a scoreless ninth inning.

Milwaukee now hits the road for nine games, starting Friday night in Colorado.

Davies masterful in shutout win over Rays

TAMPA, Fla. — It was his first career start against the Tampa Bay Rays, but you wouldn’t know it as Zach Davies led the Milwaukee Brewers to a 3-0 win Saturday night.

Davies logged seven innings, allowing just one hit on the way to his 13th win of the year. Jacob Barnes and Anthony Swarzak finished it off with just three hits allowed between them.

Milwaukee’s offense was held relatively quiet in Alex Cobb’s six innings for Tampa Bay. They logged five hits against him, one of which was a solo home run by Orlando Arcia in the third inning. That would prove to be Milwaukee’s only scoring until a key ninth inning.

That’s when Hernan Perez went to work, leading off the inning with a solo shot to set the tone for the rest of the inning. With the bases loaded, Jose Alvarado was charged with a wild pitch, allowing Jesus Aguilar to score from third base.

But it wasn’t all good news for the Brewers. In the second inning, third baseman Travis Shaw was hit in the head as the Rays tried to throw him out as he attempted to steal second base. He left the game and did not return, though an initial evaluation has him listed as day-to-day with a bruised neck.

Davies’ performance followed up a 2-0 win on Friday night, giving Milwaukee it’s first set of back-to-back shutout wins since 2013.