WP: Jimmy Nelson (7-4); Losing Pitcher: Ubaldo Jiminez (3-4); Save: none(again); Home runs: Balt - Jonathan Schoop (17); Mil - Stephen Vogt (6), Eric Thames 2 (22,23), Travis Shaw (18)
Once again, dominant pitching from the Brewers’ starting pitcher (this time Jimmy Nelson) and early offense spelled an easy win for the Brewers in today’s holiday affair at Miller Park. Unlike yesterday’s game, the Brewers used the long ball to score most of their runs. Homeruns from Stephen Vogt, Eric Thames, and Travis Shaw built a 5-0 fifth inning lead that stood up for Milwaukee’s fourth victory in their last five.
Nelson worked seven innings today, and gave up just the one run on six hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out eight to collect his seventh win of the season.
Milwaukee took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second off of Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jiminez, when Hernan Perez walked to lead off the inning and Voght homered to deep right center. Keon Broxton dropped a beautiful bunt for a hit, stole second, and scored when Orlando Arcia grounded a single in the hole between short and third.
Homers accounted for the two runs in the fifth. Jonathan Villar led off the inning with his third straight strikeout, and sixth in eight series at bats, but Thames launched one deep into the rightfield seats for a 4-0 lead. Domingo Santana was called out on strikes, and Shaw drilled one into the Orioles bullpen in right center.
Nelson carried his shutout into the sixth, when some poor location and shoddy defense allowed the O’s to plate their lone run. Singles from Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop put runners at first and second, but Adam Jones pulled a grounder to Shaw at third. Travis stepped on the bag for one out and looked like he was going to second, but double clutched and threw to first. The throw wasn’t awful, but Thames seemed surprised by the throw and could only get a glove on the ball. Runners ended up at second and third, and Schoop ended up scoring on a soft single to center by Joey Rickard. Nelson squelched the rally by striking out the last two in the inning, and the last two he faced in today’s game.
The Brewers immediately got the run back in the bottom of the seventh when Thames lined a two out shot just over the fence into the rightfield bullpen. Thames 23 homers have him only one off the major league lead. The inning could have been more...Eric Sogard led off with a pinch single, and because of his sore ankle he was replaced by Brent Suter as a pinch runner. Villar’s tap to the pitcher drew a throw to second, and Suter was originally called safe with the shortstop off the bag. That was overturned on review, and Villar was called out stealing second. He was easily safe, but inexplicably took off running for third and was tagged again. Review would have been interesting...it was clear that Villar got the base well ahead of the tag. His hand was wrapped around Schoop’s arm, but Schoop pulled it off with his foot. The umpire then signaled out for the second time, and that is when Villar took off for third. It would have been an interesting challenge, But the Brewers elected to let the call stand.
Jacob Barnes worked a perfect eighth, and the Brewers went with Carlos Torres for the ninth. He allowed a long homerun to Jonathan Schoop with one down, then a single to Adam Jones. Joey Ricard struck out, and Trey Mancini flew out to the wall in center to end the game.
Both Chicago and St. Louis lost today, so the Brewers now lead the Cubs by 3½ games and the Cardinals trail by 5. Milwaukee moves to 46-40, while the Orioles are 40-43. Tomorrow night’s starters will be Matt Garza (3-4, 4.36) for the Brewers and Jayson Aquino (1-1, 6.97) making a spot start for Baltimore, just up from AAA.