After sweeping the division leading Chicago Cubs in a three-game set down at Wrigley Field, the Milwaukee Brewers appeared to have momentum on their side as they returned home to Miller Park. Those good vibes from the Windy City did not carry over into the opening game of this series with Pittsburgh, however.
It seems like the Brewers are prone to getting confounded by unheralded rookie pitchers, and maybe it’s just confirmation bias but it happened again in game one. The Pirates sent lefty Steven Brault to the mound, who was carrying a 5.79 ERA into the contest (though in just 18.2 innings). Brault tossed four hitless innings out of the chute until Jesus Aguilar lead off with a single in the fifth. The 25 year old southpaw stymied the Brewers all night, working 6 scoreless frames with one hit, one walk, and six strikeouts. Four relievers would combine to pitch three scoreless innings to finish out the shutout. Milwaukee’s offense was held to just three hits on the day, and no Brewer ever advanced past second base.
The Brewers, meanwhile, sent their own rookie to the mound in the form of Brandon Woodruff. The club’s #4 prospect had been acquitting himself quite well to the big leagues with a 1.52 ERA through his first career 23.2 innings, but tossed up a stinker in this one. Andrew McCutchen made it 2-0 with a two-run blast in the first inning, and Starling Marte pushed it to 4-0 with a two-run bomb of his own in the fifth (after a double by the pitcher Brault). Woodruff pitched to two batters in the 6th but retired neither of them before getting pulled. His final line was 5 innings, 7 hits, 6 earned runs, 1 walk, and 3 strikeouts.
Jared Hughes came on in the 6th to replace Woodruff with runners on 2nd and 3rd. He was able to get Sean Rodriguez to ground into a fielder’s choice and get the out at home, but another fielder’s choice put runners on the corners with two outs. After an intentional walk to load the bases, Brault collected hit second hit of the day, a 2 RBI single to make it a 6-0 ball game.
Oliver Drake (1 BB, 1 K) and Junior Guerra (1 BB, 2 K) each pitched scoreless innings, sandwiched around an 8th inning home run that Jacob Barnes served up to Jordy Mercer, pushing the score to 7-0. That’s where the game would end, dropping Milwaukee (75-69) to 2.5 games back of the idle Cubs in the NL Central. The Rockies defeated the Diamondbacks, so our beloved local nine now trails in the Wild Card by 4.0 games.
Next up, Brent Suter (2-2, 3.55 ERA) will take on Gerrit Cole (11-9, 3.93 ERA) in game 2 of the series. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 PM CST.