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 crush the D-backs, now off to best 50-game start in franchise history

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers used a seven-run fourth inning to blow open a tight game and went on to beat Arizona 9-2, completing a three-game sweep of the Diamondbacks.

Offense explodes

Milwaukee had the bases loaded in the first inning, but managed only one run. The Brewers had two base runners in the third inning, but couldn’t get anything across. Finally, in the fourth, the floodgates opened against Arizona’s Zack Godley.

Jesus Aguilar singled home a pair of runs, before Travis Shaw drilled a three-run home run, his 12th on the year. Milwaukee wasn’t done, though, as Tyler Saladino singled in a run and an error on the play brought another in. In all, the Brewers batted around and scored seven runs, tied for the most in a single inning this year for the club.

“I think it can be very dangerous,” Shaw said of the team when its clicking on all cylinders. “Offensively, we struggled early on [in the season], but this past week you’ve see how quickly this offense can strike. It’s literally up and down the order [and] a different guy every day.”

Brent Suter plenty good enough

He gave up a pair of home runs, but otherwise Brent Suter had another really nice outing. He made it 5 2/3 innings, giving up those two runs on four hits and striking out six. It improved his record to 4-3 on the year and he’s allowed just three runs over his last 11 1/3 innings of work.

“I’m feeling, mentally and physically, like I’m getting into that season mode, that groove mode, where I’m more in control out there,” Suter said. “I’m going to my strengths better and feeling like I’m attacking better out there.”

What a start

The win pushed Milwaukee to 31-19 on the year, the best 50-game start in franchise history.

“It’s cool,” pitcher Jett Bandy said of the accomplishment. “I don’t really like looking at numbers and stuff like that in the middle of the season. We’ll reflect on that when the season is over with, but that’s definitely a cool accomplishment.”

Bandy’s sentiment was shared by manager Craig Counsell.

“It’s a nice thing to talk about,” Counsell said. [But] we’re on to the next series.”

Milwaukee has caught fire of late, going 15-6 since being swept in a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field late last month. It has left the Brewers with the best record — as this is being written — in the National League and sitting in first place in the NL Central. But, as was a theme after their third straight win, no one is that excited or surprised with where they are right now.

“It’s the Cubs’ division until someone else says otherwise,” Shaw said. “But I feel like we’re in a good spot right now. We’re playing good. We’ll just try to keep it going this weekend.”

Roster moves

Counsell noted after the game that veteran Ryan Braun and starting pitcher Zach Davies would be activated off the 10-day disabled list and be available for the first game of a weekend series against the New York Mets on Thursday. To make room, the team optioned pitcher Brandon Woodruff and first baseman Ji-Man Choi to Triple-A.

Chase Anderson pitches well, Brewers hit 3 HRs in 4-2 win over Arizona

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers continued their strong play of late with a 4-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night at Miller Park, giving them a National League-best 29 wins on the season.

Chase Anderson returns

After missing a pair of starts while on the disabled list, the Brewers’ top option returned to the mound Monday night. And other than a rough first inning, in which he threw 26 pitches and walked in a run, Anderson pitched really well.

“I thought he threw the ball well in the first inning,” manager Craig Counsell said. “He wasn’t missing badly. They were just narrow misses. I thought it took him a little bit to get the curve ball going, but I thought he still threw the ball well that inning. Maybe it helped him just throwing a bunch of pitches that inning and getting into a groove after that.”

That appeared to be what happened, as Anderson did not allow another hit until the sixth inning, a solo home run by Jake Lamb. In between, he at one point retired 11 straight batters, and the only base runner came on a walk in the fifth inning. He exited the game after six innings of work, allowing two runs on three hits to pick up his fourth win of the year.

“I would say a little bit of rust,” Anderson said of his first inning. “Obviously, I felt really good. I just wasn’t commanding the ball like I wanted to.

“I think it was kind of good for me to get out there and throw a lot of pitches, because it helped me…get into a groove and continue to put up zeros up on the board. That was my job today.”

Freddy Peralta filled in nicely for Milwaukee when Anderson went on the disabled list, but having your No. 1 pitcher back in the rotation is good news for a hot Brewers team that just became even tougher to deal with.

Winning with home runs

Zack Grienke had allowed three or more home runs just 12 times in 390 careers starts. That number is now 13 after Monday night. Milwaukee got a 2-run shot from Travis Shaw in the bottom of the first inning, and then Domingo Santana and Lorenzo Cain each had solo homers off the former Brewers’ pitcher, the first time he’s allowed three in a game this season.

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Milwaukee clearly benefited from having seen Grienke just last week when he limited the Brewers to one run on four hits.

“When you see a guy that close together you kind of know what he going to do,” said Shaw, who leads the team in home runs with 11. “I thought, for the most part, we were pretty disciplined on balls down in the zone. Luckily a few of us got a couple balls up and put good swings on it.”

Corey Knebel back in the 9th

For the first time since March 30, manager Craig Counsell handed the ball to Corey Knebel in a save situation and he delivered a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth.

“Everybody was waiting for him to get back out there,” Shaw said. “He looked like the old Corey right there.”

Knebel, an All-Star a season ago, suffered a hamstring injury at the beginning of April that kept him out of action until May 9. He’d pitched in four games since returning, but none in his customary closer role. Still, he looked right at home, getting the first batter to ground out, striking out the second and then getting another ground ball to end the game.

“We’ve been planning on using him back there, but we haven’t had…a situation like that for a week or so,” Counsell said. “He’s been throwing the ball really well since he’s been back, so [we] had no hesitation whatsoever [putting him out there].”

What’s next?

Milwaukee and Arizona will matchup Tuesday night in game No. 2 of a three-game series at Miller Park.

Brewers return home from 10-game road trip

The Milwaukee Brewers just finished the longest road trip of the year with a 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins. Despite the loss in the final game of the trip, the Brewers finished with a 7-3 record and series wins against the Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Minnesota Twins.

With both Ryan Braun and Eric Thames on the disabled list, Jesús Aguilar has seen regular time at first base and been extremely productive. He hit home runs in all three games against Minnesota, including a pair in Friday night’s victory. Aguilar now has seven home runs and 20 runs batted in on the season in 102 at-bats.

Milwaukee (28-19) now sits in first place in the National League Central Division with a 1.5 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, and Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Brewers now will begin the longest home stand of the season beginning on Monday with a three-game set against the Arizona Diamondbacks. That will be followed with a four-game weekend set against the New York Mets and a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals before hitting the road once again.

Chase Anderson is set to return from the DL (illness) on Monday night to start against Arizona.

Report: Milwaukee among potential landing spots for veteran pitcher

The trade deadline is still more than two months away but reports are already surfacing about potential targets for the Milwaukee Brewers.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports, the Brewers are among the most likely landing spots for Texas Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels. That’s after The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported the Rangers have told clubs they are open for trades.

Now in his 13th season, Hamels would give Milwaukee a left-handed starter near the top of its rotation, something they don’t currently have. His contract could prove too much for the Brewers to take on, though, as according to Rosenthal, he’s making $22.5 million this year and is due $20 million next year. But that might not be the biggest problem. According to the MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, Hamels would have to approve the trade because Milwaukee is not among the nine teams he can be traded to without his permission.

Hamels has been solid this year, posting a 3.38 ERA while going 2-4 for a struggling Rangers squad.

The Brewers are currently tied for the most wins in the National League with 26, while also sitting just a 1/2 game back of Pittsburgh for the lead in the NL Central.

Brewers place Ryan Braun on the DL

Ryan Braun is headed to the disabled list.

The Milwaukee Brewers placed the veteran on the 10-day DL retroactive to Monday with tightness in his back. Braun had missed the last three games. It’s his first trip to the DL since last May, when he had two different 10-day stints.

A corresponding roster move has yet to be made.

Playing a mix of first base and in the outfield, Braun is batting just .222 on the season with five home runs and 20 RBIs, though he has proven clutch in several instances with game-winning hits.

With Braun out, it means even more time for first baseman Jesus Aguilar, who is batting a team-high .308 with three home runs and 14 RBIs.

Milwaukee is in the midst of its longest road trip of the season. After going 5-2 against Colorado and Arizona, the Brewers now head to Minnesota to face the Twins in a weekend series.

Last strikes: Diamondbacks 2, Brewers 1

PHOENIX – Fourteen last strikes from the Milwaukee Brewers’ 2-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night at Chase Field.

1. The Brewers struck first in the fourth inning on a Travis Shaw RBI-double to right field over the outstretched glove of Arizona’s Steven Souza Jr. Christian Yelich opened the inning with a double to the wall in left-center field just past the dive of Chris Owings.

2. The Diamondbacks struck back in the bottom of the frame after Daniel Descalso drew a leadoff walk and later came around to score when Souza Jr. grounded into a double play to push the run across. That was the only damage that starter Jhoulys Chacin would warrant, but it wasn’t the last time a leadoff walk came back to bite the Brewers.

3. Chacin was excellent for Milwaukee as he pitched seven innings, allowing one run on a pair of hits while striking out seven.

4. “He pitched outstanding,” manager Craig Counsell said of Chacin’s outing. “He pitched beautifully, through seven innings strong, really had the ability to probably keep going. But it was an outstanding performance.”

5. After a bit of a tough start to the season, he’s been everything a team could ask for and more from a back of the rotation starter. This is now three starts in a row, and six of his last seven in which Chacin has allowed two runs or less.

6. “I felt pretty good. I felt that I was making pitches from the first inning,” Chacin said after the loss. “My slider was really good today. I think the key today was my changeup. I threw a lot of changeups today and it was working against the lefties that they had.”

7. It’s not fair to ask the bullpen to be perfect on every single night. That’s something that just isn’t going to happen, and they were not perfect on Tuesday as Arizona was able to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the eighth.

8. Taylor Williams entered the game in the eighth replacing Chacin. He promptly allowed a leadoff walk to catcher Jeff Mathis. Mathis was then replaced by pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by pinch-hitter John Ryan Murphy.

9. Williams was pulled in favor of Boone Logan after the sacrifice bunt. Logan got David Peralta to ground out for the second out of the inning before intentionally walking Chris Owings. Logan then allowed an RBI-single to Descalso to give Arizona the lead.

10. With the Brewers having a seemingly plethora of terrific bullpen arms, it did seem curious that Williams was the one called upon in that spot. It was later revealed that Jeremy Jeffress was unavailable to pitch due to a stiff neck.

11. “It was Taylor for two hitters there and then we were going to go to a lefty,” manager Craig Counsell said after the game. “[Jeffress] was down, he’s had a stiff neck for the past couple days. He’s doing better but we didn’t want to use him tonight.

12. “It’s the walk that hurts you there. You think, bottom of the lineup, you’ve got to throw strikes to those guys and it’s the walk that ends up hurting you.”

13. That lead stood up as the Brewers were unable to get anything going against Diamondbacks closer Brad Boxberger in the ninth inning. Shaw reached on an error by Murphy behind the dish with one out, but Domingo Santana lined out to right and Jonathan Villar struck out looking to things.

14. The Brewers and Diamondbacks play the rubber match of this three-game set on Wednesday afternoon at 2:40 p.m. CT. Brandon Woodruff (1-0, 8.03 ERA) will start for the Brewers and Matt Koch (2-1, 2.43) will be on the hill for Arizona. Talk to you then.

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.

Freddy Peralta makes history as Brewers beat Colorado

Prior to Sunday, Freddy Peralta’s parents had never seen him pitch professionally. That opportunity alone would have made his MLB debut in Colorado pretty special. But then the 21-year-old went out and did something no Milwaukee Brewers pitcher had done before in his first career start. Facing a solid Rockies lineup, Peralta went out and dominated, striking out 13 batters — the most by a pitcher in his debut in team history — and didn’t allow a hit until the sixth inning of what turned into a 7-3 victory.

“That was fun,” Peralta said with a huge smile afterwards. “My pitching coach just said, smile, breath and pitch. That’s what I did.”

Starting in place of an ill Chase Anderson, Peralta struck out five of the first six batters he faced. In the third, an error and a pair of walks loaded the bases, but Peralta was able to get out of the jam without any damage. It wasn’t until David Dahl singled to center in the sixth inning that the potential for a debut no-hitter was put to rest. Unfazed, Peralta got Charlie Blackmon looking for his 13th strikeout of the game and exited to cheers from Brewers’ fans in attendance.

“He was just magnificent, man,” manager Craig Counsell said. “He got his nerves out in the first three pitches of the game, and then it just kept getting better.”

Called up from Triple-A on Saturday, Peralta’s 13 strikeouts were tied for the fourth-most in an MLB debut since 1893, and the most overall by a Brewers’ pitcher since Wily Peralta also had 13 on Sept. 27, 2014.

With Anderson and Zach Davies likely to return from the disabled list soon, will Peralta get another start for Milwaukee?

“I think we’ll be able to find room for one,” Counsell said with a laugh.

Peralta pitched with a lead much of the game. Milwaukee scored three runs in the second inning, including a 2-run single by Christian Yelich. Third baseman Travis Shaw crushed a 452-foot home run in the third for a 4-0 lead. It stayed that way until a 3-run shot by Jesus Aguilar in the sixth inning.

The victory allowed Milwaukee to take three of four games from Colorado, just the Brewers second series win this year against a team above .500.

Milwaukee now heads to Arizona for a 3-game series against the NL West-leading Diamondbacks.

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.