WP: Jared Hughes
LP: Mike Montgomery
HR: Ben Zobrist (1)
Wow! What a game we just witnessed as the Milwaukee Brewers opened the first series of 2017 against the division rival Chicago Cubs. The Brewers were able to pull out a game that was 1-1 through the 11th inning before a walk-off wild pitch.
One of the most important stories from this game is the performance of the pitching. Jimmy Nelson got the start for the Brewers and was fantastic, only giving up one run on a homer to Ben Zobrist. Through six innings, Nelson allowed four hits, one walk, while striking out eight Cubs batters.
Behind Nelson, the bullpen went five innings without allowing a run. Combined the pen only allowed six base runners. There was an inning of panic when Jared Hughes came on in the 10th and loaded the bases, but he was able to work a miracle to get out without allowing any damage.
Another player of note is Jesus Aguilar. Aguilar is batting .636 going 7 for 11 and drove in the Brewers’ first run in the sixth inning. Then, Aguilar worked a walk from Mike Montgomery in the eleventh inning that pushed Ryan Braun into scoring position.
As prolific as Aguilar’s early season offense has been, it was his defense that protected the Brewers in the late innings. Twice Aguilar started a 3-6-3 double play with great defensive picks and awareness to get back to the bag and record the second out. It’s clear that his spring was not a fluke and he’s quickly earning more and more playing time. I think it’s possible we see more occasions where Eric Thames is in the outfield with Jesus Aguilar at first.
Now to the game-winning inning. Ryan Braun singled to start the inning and was followed with a Travis Shaw fly out before Aguilar’s aforementioned walk. Pressure on, Montgomery’s command clearly started to falter as he ended up hitting Jett Bandy to load the bases. Montgomery’s command continued to be shakey when he threw a ball past catcher Willson Contreras allowing Braun to sprint in for the score, winning the game.
A game that involves a heated environment (or a stadium full of Cubs fans in Brewers territory), great pitching, great defense and an exciting ending is always one to appreciate but there was a scary moment. The Brewers were able to get a runner on when Javier Baez collided with outfield Jason Heyward. Baez was walked off the field after receiving immediate medial attention, and was mostly able to do so under his own power. The Cubs/Brewers rivalry can be intense, but here’s hoping Baez didn’t suffer any serious injuries and comes out of this ok.
The next game is tomorrow a 6:10 p.m. CST. It features Tommy Milone, getting his first start in place of Junior Guerra, going against Kyle Hendricks.