WP: Zach Davies (10-4); LP: Mike Montgomery (1-6); Save: none; Home Runs: Mil - Ryan Braun (10); Chi - Wellington Castillo (11)
In the last six games the Milwaukee Brewers have scored 30 runs - if you only count the first three innings of each game. That’s five runs a game without using their final six innings at all. Of course, they didn’t use their last at bat at all in four of those games. And they really didn’t score a lot of runs in those innings. But it does go a long way in explaining how they’ve won five of those six.
Today the Brewers put up two in the top of the first when Jonathan Villar walked to open the game and came around to score on a double down the left field line off of Kris Bryant’s glove by Domingo Santana. A groundout by Ryan Braun and strikeout by Jesus Aguilar left things up to Hernan Perez, and he singled up the middle to give Milwaukee the early 2-0 lead.
The game was settled in the top of the third when the Brewers sent thirteen batters to the plate and scored seven to go up 9-0. Cubs’ starter Mike Montgomery retired the first man by striking out Villar, but didn’t retire another batter. Santana walked, and Braun hit a two run homer into the basket in center. Singles from Aguilar, Perez, and Manny Pina added the fifth run. Jack Leathersich relieved, and walked the first three he faced (Keon Broxton, Orlando Arcia, and Zach Davies) to force in two more. Villar’s second at bat of the inning produced a sacrifice fly, Santana added his second double to drive in another, and Braun walked in his second at bat. Aguilar struck out, and the Brewers led 9-0.
Brewers’ starter Davies was again the beneficiary of beaucoup runs. He worked six innings allowing two runs (both earned) on five hits, walking none but hitting two Cubs. He struck out three in winning his tenth game against four losses. Zach remains in contention for a twenty win season. He was followed by two innings from Michael Blazek (faced the minimum with a double play and strikeout), and a perfect ninth by Rob Scahill, fanning the last two batters of the game. The most effective Chicago pitcher was outfielder John Jay, who worked the ninth and allowed no runs and a hit.
Milwaukee answered those two runs in the top of the fifth. Justin grim gave up one out singles to Villar and Santana, and with Braun up they pulled a double steal. The throw went into center, and Villar scored with Santana taking third. Braun walked, and Jesus Aguilar singled in the Brewers final run, and the final run of the game.
Domingo Santana had a four hit day with a walk, and the team walked nine times in total, with thirteen hits. The Brewers got a scare in the bottom of the fourth when Keon Broxton crashed into the brick wall in left center while pulling in Jayson Heyward’s drive, banging his knee in the process. It was the same place he hit last September when he broke his right wrist. Broxton shook it off, and had some unking words to the wall as he walked back to center.
Milwaukee is now at 48-40 and have won eight of their last nine. They head out to New York City with a 4½ game lead over the Cubs and are guaranteed first place at the All-Star break. Of course, a 7½ game lead would be more fun. Tomorrow night’s game will have Junior Guerra starting for the Brewers. Guerra has struggled of late, and his record is now 1-3 with a 4.93 ERA. For the second game in a row the Brewers will face a left-handed starter named Montgomery, this time the Yankees’ Jordan Montgomery, who is 6-4 with an ERA of 3.62.
Today’s poll question asked how important today’s game was. 7% thought it was just one of 162; 57% thought it meant a little more than that, and 37% thought it was a must win game. If the Brewers win the division by one game, the 37% will be right. Come to think of it, if they win the division by ten games, they might be right, too.