W: Nicasio, 1-0
L: Peralta, 0-1
HR: Weeks (1), Fowler (2), Cuddyer (1), Rosario (1)
WPA Recap; MVP Ryan Braun .226; LVP Wily Peralta -.186
The best that can probably be said about the opening series in 2013 is that it was not a sweep. In 2011, the Brewers opened the season by getting swept in Cincinnati (featuring a John Axford blown save)-- and ended up winning 96 games and the NL Central, so it's only fair that winning one out of three should lead to an even better overall season this year.
The Brewers got 2 runs in the third on a 4-hit sequence including the first home run of the year from Rickie Weeks and hits by Braun, Ramirez (a double), and Alex Gonzalez. Ramirez was thrown out at the plate on a strike of a throw from left field by Carlos Gonzalez. The heart of the order scored again in the seventh with doubles from Weeks and Braun; this time around Ramirez worked a long at-bat but struck out looking on a breaking ball.
Wily Peralta was not particularly good in his season debut tonight, but he kept the Brewers in the game. Peralta walked the leadoff man in the first and second innings, in the second he kept challenging Rockies catcher Willin Rosario with fastballs until Rosario took him very deep for a home run to left. He made it through 5 1/3 innings with 4 strikeouts and 3 walks, and 4 earned runs allowed. Alfredo Figaro continued to show impressive stuff, throwing 96 and striking out 2 in 1 1/3 scoreless innings. The real highlights of the night defensively, however, were two stellar plays from the outfield. Carlos Gomez brought back a home run ball from similarly-named Carlos Gonzalez from over the wall in right center in the top of the sixth. In the eighth, with Jim Henderson on the mound and the Brewers down 1, Ryan Braun threw out Gonzalez at home with an impressive catch, dive, and tag from Maldonado.
Henderson kept the game within a run in the eighth, but the Brewers could not score in the bottom of the eighth. John Axford came on for the ninth and gave up a deep 2-run home run to Michael Cuddyer before getting an out, he then proceeded to give up another home run to Dexter Fowler, followed by a long flyout, and 2 more singles before being pulled. His fastball velocity was noticeably down. It may be fortunate for him that he did not enter this game in a save situation or we may be dealing with a more significant crisis already, and though I am never one to jump to conclusions it certainly was not an encouraging outing.
In other news, Yuniesky Betancourt made his first career appearance as a first basemen, so apparently he is the backup there. Because when you have a player who is consistently one of the worst in the majors at both hitting and fielding at his usual position of shortstop, you want to slide him all the way down the defensive spectrum to get him as many at-bats as possible at a position he has never played.
Some fun facts:
- Braun's walk in the first inning lasted 7 minutes, 20 seconds. He went 2-2 with 2 walks.
- Martin Maldonado threw out Eric Young in the first, for the first thrown-out base stealer of the year.
- Aramis Ramirez had an error on a ball in play for the first time since May 12th (h/t Joe Bock on Twitter).
- Roenicke used all his bench players except Khris Davis in tonight's game.
- The Rockies hit 8 home runs in the series, unsurprisingly this leads MLB. If Carlos Gomez was not in center tonight it would have been 9.
- Rickie Weeks was a triple away from the cycle.
The Brewers take tomorrow off, and reconvene on Friday night at Miller Park against the Diamondbacks when Kyle Lohse will make his Brewers debut.