WP: Jimmy Nelson (11-6)
LP: Tanner Roark (11-9)
SV: Corey Knebel (32)
HR: Neil Walker (12)
It was one of those night where the Brewers pitching staff just dominated. With the offense facing a frustrating night, it was definitely needed.
Jimmy Nelson was dominant tonight. In seven innings, he allowed just three hits and three walks. He was only in trouble in one inning, when he walked two batters and hit another to load the bases. However, he struck out the other three batters to end the inning.
After that hit by pitch in the third, Nelson was about as good as he could be. He retired 13 of the last 14 batters he saw, and the one he didn’t retire was erased on a double play. In total for the night, he also had 11 strikeouts, and kept the Nationals offense in check.
It was a good thing that Nelson was having a strong night, because the Brewers offense struggled. Neil Walker hit a home run in the first inning, but that was it for the Brewers offense all night. They did record six hits and a walk off of Tanner Roark, but they couldn’t convert the rest of that into runs. It also didn’t help that Braun got himself ejected in the fourth inning for arguing balls and strikes, further putting a strain on the Brewers offense.
There were a few good opportunities to score in this game. The Brewers put runners on first and third to start the fifth inning, and then had an opportunity to score when Jonathan Villar put down an excellent bunt, but couldn’t convert it. The inning ended up being wasted as Orlando Arcia grounded into a double play and Nelson struck out to end the inning.
Another opportunity came up in the seventh, when Villar doubled with two outs and the Nationals elected to intentionally walk Arcia. Taking a shot to add insurance runs, manager Craig Counsell pinch hit Jesus Aguilar, who hit a ball to deep center, but just missed the home run. They also almost added on insurance runs in the eighth after Hernan Perez’s single, but Travis Shaw also hit a deep fly ball that was also just short of a home run.
With Nelson out, the Brewers needed shutdown innings from the bullpen to save the game, and the bullpen delivered. Josh Hader took the eighth and struck out the side, then Corey Knebel took the ninth. He allowed a walk to Jayson Werth, but struck out the other three batters to end the game.
The Cubs won 2-0 over the Braves earlier today, so they remain 3.5 games behind in the NL Central. As of this writing, the Rockies are down 9-5 to the Diamondbacks, and if that holds, their lead over the Brewers for the second Wild Card drops to 1.5 games.
The series against the Nationals continues tomorrow afternoon as the Brewers have to face Nationals ace Max Scherzer. Brandon Woodruff, fresh up from Triple-A Colorado Springs, will start for the Brewers. First pitch is at 6:10 pm.