WP: Chase Anderson (1-1); LP: Marcus Stroman (1-1), CG; Save: Neftali Feliz (3); HR: Mil., Jonathan Villar (3); Tor., none
It took only two hours and fourteen minutes for the Brewers to improve to 4-5 tonight as they swept the two game set against the Blue Jays with a well pitched 2-0 win. Chase Anderson was dominant, going seven shutout innings, allowing three hits, walking two (one intentional), and striking out seven.
Anderson had all four pitches working tonight, and his change-up is so much better than at the start of last season that it is startling. It acts almost like a screwball, and the Blue Jays were off balance all night. He placed his fastball on both corners at will. His cutter was consistently on the outside corner (unless Kendrys Morales was up, in which case it was on the inside corner). He kept his curveball down.
Anderson had one tough inning. In the bottom of the fourth, Jose Bautista snapped Chase’s string of retiring the first ten he faced with a single to left. Josh Donaldson drew a walk, and Morales bat handled a ball towards the hole at second that Jonathan Villar turned into an out at first while the two runners moved up. Troy Tulowitzki was walked intentionally to load ‘em up, bringing up the hitless-for-the-season Russell Martin. Martin was called out on a 2-2 slider that was off the outside corner, but hey...we’ll take all the breaks we can get. To be fair, the Brewers had a couple of hitters called out on pitches just as bad. (Martin rapped a two out double in the seventh to break that o’fer streak.)
The high leverage portion of the Brewers bullpen once again was very effective. Corey Knebel worked the eighth, giving up a lead off single to Kevin Pillar but striking out pinch hitter Justin Smoak and inducing an easy double play from lead-off hitter Devon Travis, 4-6-3. Neftali Feliz notched his third save with a scoreless ninth, despite walking Josh Donaldson (by throwing him four sliders in five pitches with one down and nobody on base with a two run lead). Morales drilled one up the middle, but Feliz knocked it down and started an easy 1-6-3 double play with two very slow runners involved (Morales and pinch runner Jarrod Saltalamacchia) to finish the game.
The two starts in Toronto by Wily Peralta and Anderson go a long way to ease the stress from week one on the Brewers’ bullpen. It seems likely that Matt Garza will replace Tommy Milone (admittedly, a move that doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence) in the rotation after two rehab starts, and it is possible that the pen might become a strength that goes five or six deep. Six and seven inning starts are a must in the formula.
The Brewers reached Toronto ace Marcus Stroman for a run in the bottom of the second on a one out double by Domingo Santana, sliced inside the first base line, and a two out double from Keon Broxton lined over the head of Bautista in right. After a walk drawn by Jett Bandy, Orlando Arcia also line one to right, but Bautista made a good running catch to save two more runs. Stroman ended up with a complete game loss, allowing seven hits with a walk while striking out four. (You read that right; the Brewers only struck out four times.)
Jonathan Villar capped the Brewers’ (and the games’) scoring with a lead-off homer in the sixth, a no-doubter to deep right center. Villar had another incredibly bad baserunning moment in the top of the third when he singled and moved to second on a Martin passed ball. With Ryan Braun up and second baseman Travis basically standing on top of second, Villar was picked off so cleanly that he never got within a yard of second.
The Brewers now head to Cincinnati to face the first place Reds, now at 7-2. Jimmy Nelson (0-0, 1.50) will go for Milwaukee and face junkballer Bronson Arroyo (0-1, 13.50) as the Brewers attempt to close the three game gap between the two teams. Game time is 6:10 pm.