The Brewers took the first and perhaps least important game in what promises to be a bitter and contentious rivalry with Chicago this season, besting the Cubs 2-1 to open up their Cactus League slate.
Let’s not sit around and pretend like you need a play-by-play; these games don’t count. All you want to know is who played, who stood out (for better or worse) and who (it’s gonna happen, folks) got hurt, and that’s all you’ll get from me this spring. Welcome back to baseball folks. Here we go.
Christian Yelich slotted into the two-hole in his Brewers debut, and he struck out twice and singled in three at bats. Yelich manned his usual left field spot, so the plan to expose him to right field has not yet been enacted. Domingo Santana, ostensibly the odd man out in the Brewers current four-man outfield unless Ryan Braun’s first base adventure works out, hit third, going 2-for-2 with two doubles and a walk.
The offensive hero of the day was Eric Sogard, who clubbed a triple to score both of Milwaukee’s runs in the 4th inning. Sogard finished 1-for-3 with a strikeout.
Other notable offensive lines include a pair of 0-for-3 outings for Orlando Arcia and Jesus Aguilar, with the latter perhaps fighting for a roster spot, again pending Braun’s turn at the keystone. Former Padres farmhand Christian Bethancourt relieved Aguilar and singled in his debut with the club.
The Brewers sent a pair of candidates for the back end of their rotation to the mound in the first two innings in southpaw Brent Suter and last year’s Opening Day starter, Junior Guerra. Suter started, walking one, and Junior Guerra struck out one and allowed a pair of baserunners on a single that Santana should have caught (which was erased by Manny Pina on a steal attempt) and an error by Hernan Perez.
Top prospect Corbin Burnes made his 2018 debut, pitching a clean fourth with a pair of strikeouts. Fan favorite and perpetual Brewers farmhand Tim Dillard pitched a scoreless eighth with one walk, and converted first baseman Nick Ramirez pitched a perfect ninth with a strikeout for the save.
Oliver Drake allowed the only blemish in a fitful third inning. Former Angels closer Ernesto Frieri, Tyler Webb and Erik Davis added scoreless innings for Milwaukee.
Cactus Cup Update:
The Brewers opened the 2018 Cactus League slate a team divided, with half the team playing across town in Scottsdale against the San Francisco Giants. Those Brewers fought back from an early 4-0 deficit to beat San Francisco, 6-5, in a prospect-heavy match-up to give Milwaukee a perfect 2-0 start. Ben will have that one covered for you shortly.