MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers finished off the franchise’s best month of May with a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday afternoon at Miller Park, and in doing so earned their sixth-straight series win.
Junior Guerra getting it done
The Brewers got a great outing from Junior Guerra, as he threw six scoreless innings, gave up just four hits and struck out seven. It was his second straight quality start and the third in his last four games. He was able to maneuver out of trouble several times and kept Milwaukee in the game when the offense failed to execute.
Guerra left having thrown 90 pitches, which wasn’t an abnormally high number for him, but considering what the bullpen has been this year, manager Craig Counsell decided to call it day.
“It was a tough decision to take him out,” Counsell said. “We got three innings to go, and we’ve got all those guys sitting down there, and you feel like they’ve done the job so well that [we] went to them.”
The bullpen wasn’t able to hold the 1-0 lead that Guerra left with, so he missed out on getting credited for the win and sits at 3-3. But with the way he’s pitching of late, there should be plenty of opportunities for him to add to his victory total.
“That’s as good as he’s thrown it, I think,” Counsell said of Wednesday’s effort. “For someone that didn’t start the year in the rotation, he’s certainly cemented a spot in it.”
Bullpen falters…kind of
Jeremy Jeffress was eventually going to give up a run and Wednesday was that day. The reliever had gone 23 outings without allowing one, but Harrison Bader took care of that streak with a solo homer to tie the game in the seventh inning. An error by third baseman Travis Shaw allowed for another baserunner, who would eventually come in to score and give the Cardinals the lead.
“We’ve had a bunch of guys down there that have been darn near perfect,” Counsell said of his bullpen. “There’s going to be times they give up runs.”
Milwaukee was able to retake the lead in its half of the seventh and handed the ball to Josh Hader in the eighth inning, where he struck out the side. He added two Ks in the ninth inning, but after Jedd Gyorko reached on an infield single, Counsell went to Corey Knebel for the final out, which he got with a strikeout. Asked afterwards why he made the move, Counsell said it was a gut call.
“You make a lot of those decisions,” Counsell said. “There’s not a formula for everything.”
Welcome back, Orlando Arcia
The Brewers sent Orlando Arcia down to Triple-A last week to work on his swing following a brutal slump at the plate. But due to an injury to Tyler Saladino on Tuesday, Milwaukee was forced to bring Arcia back up before. It ended up working out pretty well, as on the first pitch of his first at-bat of the day, Arcia lined a single to right to give the Brewers a 3-2 lead in the seventh.
“I think it puts you right back in the middle of it,” Counsell said of throwing Arcia into that spot despite his recent struggles and the fact he didn’t arrive at the stadium until after the game started. “He was going to be a part of [our team] no matter what, but you come in the game in the seventh inning, and you get the biggest hit of the game. That just puts you right back in the middle of it.”
Milwaukee had the ability to send Arcia down because of how well Saladino was playing. With him now on the disabled list for at least 10 days with an ankle injury, the Brewers need Arcia to step up.
“[Saladino’s success] gave us a little leeway to do something like that,” Counsell said of optioning Arcia. “But now, with the injury, it’s on [Arcia], and he’ll do a good job.”
One heck of a May
Milwaukee went all of May without having back-to-back losses and won a franchise-record 19 games in the month. It left them 36-21, including 15-5 over the last 20 contests. Sometimes that success has been driven by just one part of the club and other times everyone is chipping in.
“It’s been different guys every night [and] just trying to pick each other up,” said outfielder Christian Yelich, who drilled a 441-foot home run to tie the game in the seventh. “[We] built off really good at-bats, great starts [from our pitching staff] and our bullpen has been lights out all year for us. Hopefully, we can keep that rolling into June.”
The Brewers will get the June portion of their schedule underway Friday night in Chicago as they take on the White Sox.