After suffering demoralizing defeats in the late innings in each of the last two games against the Dodgers, the 1st-place Milwaukee Brewers came into today’s game looking to avoid a three-game sweep at Miller Park. They sent Zach Davies to the mound, who prior to today’s tilt, had been the worst-performing member of Milwaukee’s starting rotation.
Zach has fought his command throughout the year, but thankfully turned in a sharp outing during today’s must-win contest. Across his six-plus innings, he threw 101 pitches and allowed only three hits (with two of them coming in the top of the 7th) and one walk. He never let a runner advance past second base, struck out six opposing batters and improved his ERA to 4.69 now through 63.1 innings on the season.
The Brewers’ offense gave Davies some support early on to help take off a bit of the pressure. Eric Thames kept Milwaukee’s first inning magic going, clubbing a line drive home run to right-center field off of Dodgers’ starter Kenta Maeda to make it 1-0. In the second inning, Manny Pina walked to lead off the frame and would later move up to second base when Orlando Arcia was hit by a pitch. Cult hero Eric Sogard continued to add to his legend by hitting a two-out RBI single to score Pina and make it 2-0 in favor of Milwaukee.
Things got a bit hairy for the Brewers in the top of the 7th, as Davies allowed a lead off single to Adrian Gonzalez and then Cody Bellinger reached on a bunt single thaT beat the shift. Davies was yanked in favor of Oliver Drake, who has been hit around a bit in his recent outings. Fortunately Drake was able to induce a ground ball double play off the bat of Yasmani Grandal to put a runner on third with two outs. Craig Counsell then ordered a double switch, with Hernan Perez coming into the game in center field and Jacob Barnes relieving Drake on the mound. Barnes induced a two-pitch lineout off the bat of Austin Barnes to end the threat. He would come back out for the eighth inning and toss a scoreless frame, stranding Chase Utley (who walked) by striking out Logan Forsythe and Corey Seager.
In the bottom of the eighth, Milwaukee threw a BMIR on the board courtesy of a booming solo home run off the bat of Domingo Santana to make it 3-0. It was Sunday’s 10th home run of the season, and he is breaking out to the tune of a .270/.364/.489 batting line through 53 games played this season. At age 24 and with four additional years of club control beyond 2017, Santana may be playing his way into an important role with the ball club going forward.
Corey Knebel entered the game to lock things down in the 9th inning, and worked around a walk to Cody Bellinger by striking out the side to record a scoreless frame for his 5th save of the season. He’s now struck out 51 batters in 28.0 innings this season, or an absurd 16.39 K/9.
It stings to know that this series very easily could have (and arguably should have) been a sweep, but the 1st-place Brewers righted the ship a bit by salvaging today’s contest. They avoided the sweep while moving their record to 30-27, ensuring that the Milwaukee Nine will once again wake up atop the NL Central standings tomorrow morning.
The San Francisco Giants come into a town tomorrow in what’s essentially been a season-long tailspin; they’ve lost 7 of their last 10 and have a 23-35 record overall on the year. They’ll begin the four-game set by sending Jeff Samardzija (1-7, 4.63 ERA) to the mound to face off against #2017BrewersAce Junior Guerra (1-0, 1.84 ERA), who has allowed just one earned run in 11.1 innings since returning from the disabled list two starts ago.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs