Brewers beat Cincinnati 7-0, move closer to playoff berth

The Milwaukee Brewers are closing in on their first playoff berth since 2011.

The club’s magic number to clinch a spot dropped to six Wednesday night thanks to a 7-0 win over Cincinnati and then Colorado losing on the road to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Paired with a St. Louis loss, the Brewers are now three games up on the Cardinals for the top wild-card spot in the National League and 4 1/2 games clear of the Rockies. Chicago also lost, leaving the Brewers 2 1/2 games back in the division.

Milwaukee is in that position thanks to a great outing on the mound from Gio Gonzalez and the power of Jesus Aguilar at the plate.

Gonzalez went six innings, giving up just two hits and striking out five to improve to 2-0 since being acquired on Aug. 31. Aguilar, meanwhile, got his 100th RBI in the first inning with an infield single, and the first baseman added three more when he pounded a home run with two on in the third inning. It was his team-leading 33rd homer of the year.

Outfielder Christian Yelich had two more hits and maintained his lead for the NL battling title with a .319 average. Catcher Manny Pina also went deep with a three-run shot in the sixth inning.

The Brewers will get Thursday off before opening a weekend series against Pittsburgh. They follow that series up with three games in St. Louis and three more against Detroit to close out the regular season.

Bats quiet in Milwaukee’s loss to Reds

With just under two weeks remaining in the regular season the Milwaukee Brewers are continuing to work on shrinking their magic number down to zero. The number got smaller on Tuesday night, just not the way Milwaukee envisioned it happening. The Crew lost to the Cincinnati Reds 3-1 but by virtue of Colorado’s loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers helped out the Brewers in the playoff picture.

After scoring eight runs on Monday night in a victory the offense struggled on Tuesday for the Brewers. They were only able to manage three hits on the day and saw both Travis Shaw and Lorenzo Cain removed due to injury. Shaw left the game after he was hit by a pitch and was diagnosed with a bruised right knee and Cain was pulled with a tight rib cage. Both players are questionable for Wednesday night’s series finale.

Chase Anderson started and was roughed up early for the Crew. He lasted 3 2/3 innings allowing three runs on six hits while striking out five. He was dealt his eighth loss of the season.

Milwaukee now leads the St. Louis Cardinals by 2.0 games for the first National League Wild Card spot and the Rockies — the first team on the outside looking in — by 3.5 games. The magic number for the Brewers to clinch a playoff berth is eight heading into play on Wednesday.

The Brewers and Reds finish up this series on Wednesday night at Miller Park. First pitch is slated for 6:40 p.m. CT.

Big night from Yelich leads to Milwaukee win

The Milwaukee Brewers made one of the biggest moves in baseball this offseason when they acquired outfielder Christian Yelich from the Miami Marlins.

That move has been one of the best in the tenure of Milwaukee general manager David Sterns. Yelich is a legitimate MVP candidate this season and hit for the cycle for the second time in a three week period in Milwaukee’s 8-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds Monday night.

Yelich finished the night 4-4 at the dish with four RBIs in the victory. He’s now tied for the National League lead in batting average (.318) and in the top 10 in both home runs and runs batted in.

Wade Miley got the start for the Brewers and fared well. He earned the win after pitching five shutout innings, striking out a pair. The bullpen then combined for four shutout innings, one of them by Josh Hader and the other three by Brandon Woodruff, who earned the save.

Milwaukee’s magic number to clinch a playoff berth is now down to nine. They lead the St. Louis Cardinals for the first National League Wild Card spot by 3.0 games and the Colorado Rockies by 3.5 games.

The Brewers and Reds continue this series at Miller Park on Tuesday night. First pitch is set for 6:40 p.m. CT.

Last strikes: Brewers 7, Pirates 4

MILWAUKEE – Nineteen last strikes for the 19 batters faced by Milwaukee’s bullpen in Friday night’s 7-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

1. The Milwaukee Brewers are not quite where they want to be as of right now, but they’re in a great spot.

2. The ultimate goal as the season went on became claiming the division crown away from the Chicago Cubs. The goal prior to the season was qualifying for the playoffs in any way, shape, or form.

3. The first goal is attainable, as Milwaukee currently trails Chicago by 1 ½ games with just over two weeks of baseball left to play. As for the second goal, the Brewers are in the driver’s seat for that one.

4. With the victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night – Milwaukee’s 12th in the past 16 games – the Brewers reduced their magic number to clinch a playoff berth down to 11. There’s plenty of baseball left to play, and October baseball isn’t a sure thing for the Brewers as of right now, but it’s a good bet that they’ll be a participant.

5. Milwaukee’s lead for a playoff spot is currently sitting at four full games over both St. Louis and Los Angeles.

6. At this point, with how well the Brewers are playing currently, their cushion, and remaining games with bottom-feeding Cincinnati and Detroit, missing the playoffs would be a complete and total failure for this team. The ceiling should be stealing the division from the Cubs, but the floor should be a National League Wild Card berth.

7. When both Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain were acquired this winter, this is what the organization had in mind for the outfielders. They will each likely finish in the top 10 in most valuable player voting. They’ve been that good for Milwaukee. The difference between the falling off in 2017 and competing in 2018 has been the play of those two.

8. That was evident again on Friday night as Cain made yet another outstanding defensive play to add to his season-long highlight reel and Yelich hit his 29th home run of the year to put the Brewers on the scoreboard first.

9. Yelich also became the first member of the Brewers to reach 100 runs scored in a season since Ryan Braun accomplished the feat way back in 2012. He’s been on base in 29 consecutive games.

10. Cain reached base twice on Friday night, scored a run, and stole a base in addition to his leaping grab at the wall. He’s been just as good as Yelich even if he may not be as celebrated.

11. Long story short, they’re the real deal.

12. Don’t let the accomplishments of just those two fool you, however. The Brewers are clicking on all cylinders as a team. Orlando Arcia, not named in the starting lineup in this victory, finished the night with three hits, including a crucial 2-run bunt double.

13. No, that’s not a typo, Arica drove in two runs with a bunt double down the first base line. The ball hugged the line and ultimately bounced right over the bag, and provided how far Pittsburgh first baseman Josh Bell was away from the bag it allowed Arcia to accomplish the feat.

14. Numerous Brewers, including Mike Moustakas, Gio Gonzalez, and Travis Shaw all agreed that they had not seen something quite like that in their careers. That trio already has over 20 years of combined Major League service time. So, yeah, that’s rare.

15. Getting back to the playoff picture, Arcia admitted that he’s scoreboard watching during this race. By time the media was in the clubhouse he was aware that the Cubs beat the Reds 3-2 and the Dodgers knocked off the Cardinals 3-0 earlier in the evening.

16. Scoreboard watching is a natural part of any pennant chase, especially when the team is really involved in two totally separate races. At this point it’s logical to assume that the Cardinals chance at the postseason is the wild card, leaving the division up for grabs between the Brewers and Cubs.

17. The focus for the Brewers will always be on their game, first and foremost, but watching the scoreboard is going to happen, too.

18. The Brewers are hoping to not only keep watching the scoreboard in delight, but also watch their magic number shrink all the way down to an official playoff berth for the first time since 2011.

19. The Brewers and Pirates continue this series on Saturday evening at Miller Park. First pitch is set for 6:10 p.m. CT.

Brewers just a game back of Chicago for first in the NL Central

The Milwaukee Brewers are back to within a game of first place in the NL Central.

Manager Craig Counsell’s club got there with a 5-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field.

Milwaukee was leading 2-1 in the ninth inning when outfielder Curtis Granderson drilled a solo home run and third baseman Mike Moustakas followed that up a few batters later with a two-run single to blow things open. For Granderson, it was the end of a big night in which he had three hits and scored three times. Outfielder Lorenzo Cain also had three hits to push his batting average to a team-high .314.

The pitching staff more than held up its end of the bargain. Chase Anderson got the start and gave up just two hits over four innings of work. Five relievers would finish the job, including Josh Hader, whose one inning consisted of striking out Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javy Baez with only a single by Ben Zobrist in the middle. He got the win to move to 6-1 on the season.

Thanks to its seventh straight series win, Milwaukee is now just a game back of Chicago in the division with 15 games to play. The Brewers also hold the top wild card spot by 2 1/2 games over St. Louis, while the Los Angeles Dodgers are sitting two games back of the Cardinals for the second wild card spot.

Milwaukee has Thursday off before opening a weekend series with the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park on Friday.

Brewers fall to Cubs, continue chase for NL Central

Tuesday night didn’t go as planned for the Milwaukee Brewers. Once again the Crew couldn’t solve Chicago starter Jose Quintana as they lost 3-0 to the Chicago Cubs.

Quintana picked up the win for the Cubs as he pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings allowing only three hits and striking out seven. Tuesday night was the sixth time that the Brewers faced Quintana this season, and it was the fifth time he’s allowed two or fewer runs and the third time he’s shut them out. Quintana has a record of 4-1 on the year against Milwaukee.

Jhoulys Chacin pitched relatively well for Milwaukee as he lasted five innings only allowing a pair of runs on one hit. Chacin didn’t help himself as he did make an error in the field, however.

The Brewers couldn’t get things going offensively as they were held hitless over 2 1/3 innings against Chicago’s bullpen as well.

Chicago now leads the Brewers by two full games in the NL Central as they two teams matchup for the 19th and final time of the season on Wednesday night. The loss by Milwaukee drops them to just 1.5 games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals for the first National League Wild Card spot. The Brewers do have a 4.5-game lead over the first team on the outside of the playoff picture, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Brewers and Cubs wrap up this series on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. CT.

Brewers defeat Cubs in series opener

There’s little doubt that this is the most important series of the season for the Milwaukee Brewers.

They entered play on Monday trailing the Chicago Cubs for the NL Central division lead by a pair of games with 18 games left. After defeating the Cubs 3-2 at Wrigley Field, that gap has been closed to one single game between the Brewers and the Cubs.

Third baseman Mike Moustakas scored the go-ahead run in the sixth inning on a wild pitch from Chicago’s Carl Edwards Jr. Edwards Jr. entered the game in relief of an injured Jon Lester after he left with a lower back injury. Lester took the loss after pitching 5 2/3 innings allowing all three Milwaukee runs on eight hits.

Wade Miley got the start for the Brewers and earned his fourth win of the season. Miley pitched five innings, allowing two runs on four hits. The left-hander’s stuff was working as he forced 10 ground ball outs off of Cubs bats.

Milwaukee’s bullpen had one of its best nights of the season. Corbin Burnes pitched the sixth inning allowing only one hit, then Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress combined to finish the Cubs off.

Hader had an outstanding night, retiring all six batters he faced via strikeout on 24 pitches. This was the third time this season that Hader has struck out six batters while pitching less than three innings. He has now struck out 127 batters on the season, which sets a team record for strikeouts by a reliever.

Jeffress earned the save, worked a relatively clean ninth inning, allowing only one baserunner on a walk to Willson Contreras.

Lorenzo Cain had a terrific night offensively as he totaled four hits and a run scored.

The Brewers and Cubs continue this series on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. CT.

Brewers win again, inch closer in division race

The Milwaukee Brewers just keep on winning. Sunday saw the Brewers finish their sixth consecutive series sweep, this one resulting in a sweep of the San Francisco Giants.

Tensions were high at Miller Park as the benches briefly emptied after Milwaukee slugger Ryan Braun was hit by a pitch from San Francisco starter Madison Bumgarner. Braun’s hit-by-pitch loaded the bases for Milwaukee with Jonathan Schoop coming to bat.

Schoop unloaded the bases, hitting a 380-foot grand slam to left. That bomb put the Brewers in front for good and ensured the sweep.

Milwaukee holds a 2.5-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals for the first wild card spot in the National League. There is a 3.5-game gap between them and the third place team, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Milwaukee now trails the Chicago Cubs for the National League Central lead by a pair of games.

The Brewers and Cubs begin a series in Chicago on Monday night at Wrigley Field.

Last strikes: Brewers 4, Giants 2

MILWAUKEE – Ten last strikes for the putouts for Milwaukee catcher Manny Piña in the Brewers’ 4-2 win over the San Francisco Giants on Friday night.

1. It’s a rarity in baseball that a team wins a game in which they finish with more runs on the board than hits. That’s exactly what happened on Friday night in Milwaukee as the Brewers went from the first inning until the seventh without a hit and only finished with three total in their 4-2 victory.

2. This is the second time this season that the Brewers won a game with three or fewer hits. The first came back in June against St. Louis. Prior to this year Milwaukee had only had one such victory in the past four seasons. So, yeah, it’s pretty rare.

3. Ryan Braun got the scoring started in the first inning for the Crew as he launched a two-run home run into the Brewers’ bullpen after Lorenzo Cain led off the bottom of the first with a single.

4. After Braun gave Milwaukee the lead, the bats went silent. Derek Holland was fantastic for San Francisco as he made it through six innings allowing just those two runs on two hits while striking out eight. The downside for him was allowing five walks, but he negated any possible damage as the Brewers left eight runners on base.

5. Milwaukee finally broke through in the seventh inning after Holland was removed. Curtis Granderson and Eric Thames both walked off of reliever Hunter Strickland to begin the inning before Cain and Christian Yelich were retired. First baseman Jesús Aguilar stepped to the plate and laced a double into right field scoring both runners to give Milwaukee the lead back.

6. That lead would stand as the bullpen for the Brewers had a stellar night. Josh Hader, Joakim Soria, and Jeremy Jeffress totaled four innings of work and only allowed one base runner via walk. That trio struck out eight of the 13 batters that they faced.

7. Chase Anderson pitched well once again for Milwaukee as he moves to 9-7 on the season. He made it through five innings allowing a pair of runs on five hits. Anderson only threw 79 pitches before turning things over to Hader and the rest of the bullpen.

8. With 20 games remaining in the season it’s hard to paint any game as a “must-win” and this one wouldn’t rank high on the list of importance anyways. With that being said, every win obviously helps the playoff cause for the Brewers as they continue this September push.

9. It’s refreshing to see the team win a game that they really didn’t have much business winning, but baseball can be weird like that sometimes. Baseball’s weirdness couldn’t have come at a better time for the Brewers, though.

10. The win pushes Milwaukee’s lead for the first wild card spot in the National League to 1.5 games over the St. Louis Cardinals who lost in Detroit 5-3 on Friday night. The Brewers and Giants resume this three-game set on Saturday evening at Miller Park. First pitch is at 6:10.

Last strikes: Cubs 6, Brewers 4

MILWAUKEE – Sixteen last strikes for the 16 batters faced by Milwaukee’s bullpen in Chicago’s 6-4 win over the Brewers on Wednesday night.

1. A Brewers-Cubs game at Miller Park is an experience, to say the least.

2. Aside from the near 50-50 mix of fans inside the stadium, the game itself was a sloppy, strange one.

3. Milwaukee gifted the Cubs a few runs in the fourth inning that likely cost them the game. All four runs were technically earned ones that were charged to starter Jhoulys Chacin, but poor defensive play enabled them to occur. Milwaukee committed three errors on the night. It’s not often that a team is able to overcome that type of night in the field and come away victorious.

4. Chicago starter José Quintana kept the Milwaukee bats in check as he pitched 6 2/3 innings allowing just two runs on five hits. He’s had quite a bit of success against the Brewers this season, with the exception of his most recent start in this rivalry in Chicago.

5. And yes, despite what some may say, this is a rivalry. Chicago’s Cole Hamels may say otherwise, but he’s incorrect.

6. The Brewers still found a way to give themselves a chance in the ninth inning, which says a lot about the heart of this team. It was a game they had no business winning, but still almost found a way. Milwaukee had the winning run at the plate and the tying run at first in the ninth but was unable to push anything across.

7. This game isn’t one that defines the season for the Brewers, after all, they still have 21 more games to play before a potential October run. The outlook after this loss shouldn’t be all doom and gloom. The Brewers still won two out of three against Chicago, marking their fifth consecutive series victory. That matters more than being unable to complete the sweep.

8. On Wednesday night Miller Park was roughly 60 percent Brewers fans, with the other parts of the stadium filled with a different shade of blue. To an outsider, it’s an odd scene, for sure. Every play is cheered, whether it results in a positive or negative outcome for the home team. It’s strange to see and is obviously a result of the close proximity of the two fan bases.

9. The one moment where things seemed normal was during a replay review. Both sides seemed to think that the call was going to go in their favor. While the instant replay of Lorenzo Cain’s throw home to nab Anthony Rizzo to end the fifth was shown on the scoreboard in center field the crowd erupted.

10. The reasoning for the eruption was different for each side, obviously. Milwaukee fans felt that the call would stand because the video evidence showed Rizzo’s leg tagged by Brewers catcher Erik Kratz prior to him reaching the dish. Chicago fans felt the opposite and that Rizzo would be ruled safe, Chicago would add a run, and the inning would continue.

11. When crew chief Ed Hickox revealed that the call was upheld, the crowd once again split between cheers and boos, with each person trying to be louder than the enemy fan beside them.

12. This is no more prevalent than the middle of the seventh inning while “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is played throughout Miller Park. While the line is officially “root, root, root for the home team” it is typically changed depending on the nickname of the home team.

13. When the Cubs are in Milwaukee, “home team” is replaced by the strangest mix of Brewers and Cubbies that one has ever heard.

14. Again, don’t tell me this isn’t a rivalry.

15. It’s a rivalry that will be renewed next week in Chicago, and could make for an exciting and interesting October experience as well.

16. The Brewers are off on Thursday before resuming action against the San Francisco Giants on Friday night at Miller Park. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m.