WP: Zach Davies (13-5); LP: Alex Cobb (9-8); Save: Anthony Swarzak (2); Home runs: Mil - Hernan Perez (12); Tam - none
The Milwaukee Brewers won their third straight game with great pitching and barely enough hitting, but this time they had to work around some shaky defense. Zach Davies had his best start of the year, and the bullpen was just good enough on a night when closer Corey Knebel was unavailable.
Davies worked seven innings against the Tampa Bay Rays, and the only hit he allowed was a sixth inning, one out single by Lucas Duda. Duda was immediately erased on a double play from Evan Longoria. The biggest threat Davies faced came in the bottom of the fifth, though. With one down, Hernan Perez booted a ground ball to third, and then grabbed the ball, whirled, and delivered a throw that Matt Garza would have been proud of...sailing it into the camera booth on the fly. After Davies struck out Adeiny Hechavaria, he sent Hechavaria to third on a wild pitch and then walked Malex Smith. Davies retired Jesus Suric on a liner to center to end the threat.
The Brewers grabbed a lead in the top of the third on a single by Keon Broxton, a stolen base, and a double to right by Orlando Arcia with Broxton running that was almost a double play. Rays’ right fielder Steven Sousa dove but couldn’t hold the ball, and Keon came on in. Arcia then took off for third with nobody down and the top of the order up, but was gunned down. That cost the Brewers a run when Domingo Santana lined a two out single to right. I think that Arcia was running on a call; the Brewers stole three bases on the night, most likely in an effort to jump-start the offense.
Davies protected that lead for his seven innings, allowing just the one hit, walking two and fanning two. He exited with just 95 pitches, and Jacob Barnes took over with the 1-0 lead in the bottom of the eighth. He is now 13-5, and has lowered his ERA to 4.18.
Barnes immediately got into trouble. He fell behind Hechavaria 2-0 and gave up a line single to right for a lead-off base runner. Smith flew out to left, but Suric dumped a bloop single down the right field line between Eric Sogard and Santana. Hechavaria only made it to second, but Manny Pina’s errant pick-off attempt at second with Corey Dickerson at the plate allowed him to go to third, and when Broxton inexplicably threw to third (he had no chance), it put the tying run at second. Barnes struck out Dickerson on a nasty cutter, but hit Duda on the sleeve to load the bases. Once again, Longoria ended an inning, this time with a routine fly ball to center.
So the score remained 1-0 into the ninth, and once again the Brewers added an insurance run on a late homer. Hernan Perez hit tonight’s, and a third run came in on a wild pitch to make it 3-0 into the bottom of the ninth. Perez was in the game because Travis Shaw took a nasty looking ball to the head/neck area on a successful steal of second in the second inning. The throw was a bit wide, but Hechavaria was late getting over, and his glove went right into Shaw’s face while the throw hit him flush at the back of his head and top of the neck area. Shaw stayed down for some time, and looked unsteady leaving the field. Word from the Brewers later in the game said it was a neck contusion and he was day to day. That’s about as good as we could hope for.
Travis Shaw passed a concussion test and said he feels surprisingly good. Didn't totally rule out playing tomorrow.— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) August 6, 2017
With Corey Knebel unavailable, Anthony Swarzak was called on for the save opportunity. He struck out the first two he faced, gave up a liner off of the wall from Brad Miller, and got the omnipresent Hechavaria on a grounder to Arcia to end the game.
Speaking of Arcia, he added three assists tonight from short right field on the shift against the Rays’ lefties. Orlando leads all of baseball in shortstop put-outs, is fourth in assists, and second in double plays. Oh, and his double tonight gave him a four at-bat cycle over the last two nights. He just might be a real star in the making.
Milwaukee’s win keeps them a half game behind the Cubs, winners today over the Nationals. The Brewers (59-53) go for a series sweep against the Rays (57-55) tomorrow afternoon. Jimmy Nelson (9-5, 3.37) looks to join Davies with double digit wins, and will face Chris Archer (third in the majors with 182 strikeouts - could he reach 200 tomorrow?), 8-6, 3.89.