I am humbled and honored to recap the first game in the Junior Guerra era for the Milwaukee Brewers. Junior didn't disappoint...he allowed four runs on seven hits but went six innings, with only 72 pitches thrown. That's efficiency not seen from any Brewers' starter this year, including Jimmy Nelson. And oh yeah - he was the winning pitcher, which is very important.
The Brewers scored one run in the first inning in a 7-5 loss to the Marlins last Saturday. Since then, they have scored in nine innings in the four games played, and every one of them has been a crooked number. I have no idea what the team record is, but it would be amazing if it were better than that.
Ryan Braun was not in the line-up with "general soreness" (General Soreness?), but Jonathon Lucroy did him proud in the third spot in the lineup, going 2 for 3 with a walk, a homer, two runs scored and two driven in. Chris Carter moved up to fourth and continued to make Miller Park look like my back yard with two more homers and three batted in. On a side note, Jonathon Villar stole his National League-leading 8th base tonight.
Double plays in the fourth, fifth, and especially the seventh helped Brewer pitchers keep the Angels at bay after the third inning.
Junior allowed a run in the top of the first when Albert Pujols drove in Rafael Ortega with a drive off of the right field wall. Fortunately, Albert thought he'd gotten enough of it, and went into his homerun trot out of the box...and then tried to make up for it by going for a double. Kirk Nieuwenhuis' throw dribbled into second in plenty of time to end the inning.
The Halos plated 3 in the top of the third. A one out walk to the ninth hitter, Cliff Pennington, was followed by consecutive singles from Yunel Escobar, Ortega, and Mike Trout. With a balk tossed in, Junior looked rattled, but he sawed off Pujols for an inning ending double play.
The Brewers halved the four run deficit in the bottom of the third when Carter took a grooved fastball to the batters' eye in straight-away center for a two out, two run homer. He drove home Lucroy, who had lined a single into left ahead of the blast.
From the top of the third into the top of the fourth, the Brewers tied a major league record by getting two double plays in three batters.
The Brewers bombed their way to the lead in the bottom of the fifth. A one out walk to Jonathon Villar was followed by back to back homers from Luc and Carter. Luc hit a high change-up and Carter a hanging slider...both were no-doubters. Carter's second blast of the game went into the seats behind both bullpens in deep left center, and was almost up in the girders. That man has some natural power.
Michael Blazek replaced Guerra in the top of the seventh, after an ineffective 27 pitch inning last night...and the Angels loaded the bases on two walks and a hit with nobody out. Pennington hit a Texas leaguer that Yadiel Rivera hauled in..and then promptly air-mailed Luc at the plate. But Blazek backed up behind home, and nobody could advance. A tailor-made double play grounder that went from Villar to Rivera to Carter ended the inning.
Tyler Thornburg and Jeremy Jeffress had less eventful innings in the eighth and ninth, but JJ was aided by a fine play at third from a charging Hernan Perez before fanning Ji-Man Choi to close things out.
The win was the third straight for the Crew, leaving them at 11-15. The Angels fall to 12-15. Tomorrow afternoon's tilt (game time 12:40 )is not televised, and has the Angels sending Hector Santiago (2-1) to the hill to face Zack Davies (0-3) for the Brewers. Let's see if Junior's successful debut rubs off on Zack.