WP: Jimmy Nelson (8-4); LP: Masahiro Tanaka; Save: Corey Knebel (14); Home runs: Mil - Travis Shaw (19), Stephen Vogt (8); NY - Clint Frazier (3)
A tedious, tense game ended in a 5-3 Brewer win in the finale for the first half. The noon start looked like we would have the later afternoon for whatever else might have been important, but the game dragged on until 4:10 and saw eleven pitchers parade to the mound for the two teams combined.
But we (and the teams) have until Friday to recover, and as it ended with the Brewers’ 50th win of the first half, and increased Milwaukee’s lead over the Cubs and Cardinals to 51⁄2 games (well, the Cards were already at 51⁄2 but I digress), with the Pirates lurking at 7 back. Pittsburgh clubbed the Cubs and Jon Lester 14-3 at Wrigley today, while the Cards shut out the Mets 6-0. The Reds trail by 10 heading into their game tonight.
Once again the Brewers put up a three spot in the top of the first, this time on a three run homer by Travis Shaw off of Yankee starter Masahiro Tamaka. Stephen Vogt homered in the top of the second for a 4-0 lead.
Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson shut out New York through two down in the fourth, with nobody on. A bloop single with two strikes by Jacoby Ellsbury, a stolen base, a two strike emergency swing groundball RBI single the opposite way by lefty Chase Headley, and a two run homer by Brewer-killer Clint Frazier made it 4-3 in a heartbeat.
Three straight one out singles by Eric Thames, Domingo Santana, and Shaw plated the Brewers fifth run in the fifth inning. After that, Milwaukee struck out eight times over the final 42⁄3 innings, leaving things up to the bullpen.
Nelson worked into the sixth, leaving with two on and nobody out in that frame. Carlos Torres relieved and his second pitch was drilled down the right field line by Headley. It easily made the seats and was originally called a homer, and a Yankee 6-5 lead, but replay clearly showed the ball was foul. Given a reprieve, Torres caught Headley looking for strike three, retired Frazier on a pop-up to shallow right, and Oliver Drake came in to strike out Ji-man Choi.
Drake fanned Tyler Wells leading off the bottom of the seventh but gave up a bloop single to Brett Gardner. Jared Hughes relieved and walked Aaron Judge, but Didi Gregorius flew out to left and Gary Sanchez’ liner to deep right was pulled down by Santana to end the inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, more bad Milwaukee defense again made things more difficult than they needed to be. An easy bouncer to Thames at first got the first out on the first pitch. Hughes fanned Headley swinging, but Vogt missed the pitch and Headley reached. He then took second when Vogt missed the next pitch - which was ruled a wild pitch, but really wasn’t. It was a passed ball. Hughes struck out Frazier for what should have been the third out, but it wasn’t. Craig Counsell called on closer Corey Knebel to redeem himself after yesterday’s blown save, and Knebel immediately fell behind Choi 3-0, came back with two strikes, but walked him on the sixth pitch. Choi never swung. The inning ended when Wade bounced out on a 3-2 fastball.
Milwaukee put two runners on against Aroldis Chapman in the top of the ninth, the first on Jonathan Villar’s third hit of the day. Of course, Villar was picked off. Thames flew out to the wall in left center, and Santana walked on four pitches. Chapman, not as sharp as he was Saturday, struck out Shaw on a 2-2 fastball.
Corey then faced the top of the Yankees order in the bottom of the ninth. Knebel again had a lot of trouble finding home plate. He walked Gardner leading off the inning, but struck out Aaron Judge on a 2-2 fastball. Gregorius struck out on a 3-2 fastball out of the zone, with Gardner stealing second during the at bat. Corey dropped two curve balls in for called strikes to Sanchez and caught him looking for strike three with a fastball on the corner to end the game. Knebel’s season-long streak of at least one strikeout in every appearance was extended to 43 games with his three consecutive strikeouts to end today’s match.
Corey heads to Miami for the All Star game, but with consecutive appearances on Saturday and Sunday (with 33 pitches today), he might just rest for the game. The rest of the team heads to the break on a roll, standing at 50-41. Play resumes Friday at Miller Park with the Phillies coming to town. Zach Davies (10-4, 4.90 ERA) resumes his quest for a twenty win season for Milwaukee, and the Phillies may have scheduled Jeremy Hellickson (5-5, 4.49) to open the second half. Or TBD, depending on where you look.
Brew Crew Ball will have a thread for the Home Run Derby Monday, and for the All Star Game Tuesday. Enjoy your break, but come back with the fan intensity needed to sustain this team’s excellent first half.
Today’s poll explored how we as fans viewed the first half. 1% are mildly dissatisfied, 2% are satisfied, 32% are pleased, and 65% are absolutely ecstatic.