The Brewers lost for the first time in 147 days Saturday, falling 6-5 to the Los Angeles Angels on a walk off single by someone with a jersey in the 90s. The big news of the day, of course, had nothing to do with the numbers on the scoreboard, except for maybe the 17 next to the name of Shohei Ohtani, who was making his first Major League appearance after signing a criminally discounted contract with Los Angeles this winter.
Ohtani showed flashes of his impressive arsenal, with speeds ranging from a nice 69 MPH curve to a lively 97 MPH heater. However, he battled command issues throughout his 31-pitch outing, perhaps not a surprise for a 23-year-old making his highly anticipated debut in a foreign country.
Craig Counsell didn’t let the brief national spotlight affect his staffing decisions, as the Brewers rolled out a split squad-esque lineup that featured only two players who are likely begin the season with the big league squad. The B-team was more than equal to the task, as Milwaukee scored a pair of runs off Ohtani in an abbreviated outing.
Jonathan Villar welcomed Ohtani to American baseball with a booming ground rule double to center field, and he would later score on a wild pitch-throwing error combo from Ohtani and his battery mate, old friend Martin Maldonado. Keon Broxton led off the second inning, chasing Ohtani from the game with a frozen rope dong that left a smoking crater in the left field berm. Ohtani finished with two runs (one earned), two hits, two strikeouts and a walk over 1.1 innings.
Kyle Wren, who probably deserves a shot to play for a big league team sometime soon but currently sits around 78th on Milwaukee’s congested outfield depth chart, went 3-for-3 with a triple, a stolen base and a run scored. Top prospects Keston Hiura, Lucas Erceg and Trent Grisham (formerly Clark) all appeared in relief, with Erceg collecting the only hit between them.
Neither team’s starter had a very pleasant afternoon, as Chase Anderson was worked over a bit, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk. Anderson appeared to be holding back some in his spring debut, so his shaky first inning shouldn’t alarm anyone. Brandon Woodruff, presumed to be a front runner for one of the open spots in Milwaukee’s rotation, allowed a run on two hits in the second, striking out two.
Mike Zagurski, who looks more like he should be suiting up for Leff’s Lucky Town for a 8:15 game at Hart Park rather than a major league baseball team, surrendered two runs in his first inning of work this spring. The 35-year-old owns a 7.05 career ERA in 89 major league appearances.
J.J. Hoover, battling to steal a spot in Milwaukee’s eight-man bullpen, pitched a 1-2-3 third in his Brewers debut. Marcos Diplan, Taylor Williams, Brad Kuntz, and Quintin Torres-Costa also contributed scoreless frames.
Daniel Brown, the Brewers seventh round pick in 2016, was unable to record an out in the ninth, surrendering a bases loaded single up the middle that ended the game in favor of the Angels.
Cactus Cup Update
With the loss, the Brewers now sit 2-1 in the standings, a half-game behind perennial cup contenders Oakland and the Kansas City Royals. The Brewers will face old friend Zack Grienke and the Diamondbacks tomorrow, with Jhoulys Chacin making his debut for Milwaukee.