Win: Kyle Lohse (2-1)
Loss: Charlie Morton (0-1)
Save: Will Smith (1)
Over the last decade, there have been only two teams to reach 10 wins before April 14. The Braves won their 10th on April 13 last season, and now the Brewers have won their 10th today.
The Brewers bullpen desperately needed a break today, particularly with Brandon Kintzler now on the DL and Wei-Chung Wang not being trusted to pitch ever. Kyle Lohse proved to be exactly what the doctor ordered for just that scenario.
Lohse had arguably his best game as a Milwaukee Brewer, pitching 8⅔ innings while allowing just one run on four hits. He struck out nine batters, including five straight at one point. And that weird lack of control his last outing where he walked five Phillies batters in five innings? Yeah, that was a one-time thing. Not a single Pirates batter reached base on balls today. Lohse could have likely gone the distance, but after allowing a two-out single to Andrew McCutchen in the ninth, Ron Roenicke opted to bring in Will Smith. Smith struck out Pedro Alvarez on three pitches to pick up his first career save.
With how good Lohse was today, the Brewers didn't need a ton of offensive firepower to get him the win. The team spread out seven hits, three of which were doubles. Timely hitting and a couple Pirates' miscues allowed them to plate four runs, though. The first came with a little small-ball in the third. Martin Maldonado started out with a double. A Lohse bunt and a Carlos Gomez sacrifice fly brought him rumbling home and beating a throw in time.
After the Pirates followed up with a run on a sacrifice fly of their own, a Ryan Braun double followed by an Aramis Ramirez single gave the Brewers the lead again. A perfect throw may have made it a close play at the plate, but Braun had little trouble sliding in.
The last two runs were a little more interesting: In the sixth inning, the Brewers had runners on second and third with one out thanks to a Lyle Overbay double. Scooter Gennett struck out, but Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez couldn't fully handle the pitch and it dropped in front of him. Normally, it's a routine play to secure the out at first, and it should have been. But Sanchez somehow threw the ball into right field and allowed both Overbay and Aramis Ramirez to come around to score. I'll have a gif of that and other events from this series later tonight or tomorrow morning.
The Brewers have now won nine games in a row for the second consecutive April. And they weren't cheap wins, either. They have swept the reigning World Series champions, another 2014 playoff team, and an improved Phillies squad. The Brewers are multiple games ahead of any other major league franchise in the standings right now. The pitching is as good as it could possibly be. The offense is getting timely hitting. Everything is great.
But, boy, if the Brewers win three more in a row I'll be even happier than them winning the last nine. The Cardinals are coming to Milwaukee for the first time in 2014. They have been the odds on favorites to win the Central since the end of last season. Here's hoping the Brewers take the first steps towards spoiling those hopes.