If there was any reaction to the Brewers signing Wade Miley to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, it was most likely to be, “ugh, fine, whatever I guess.”
It wasn’t an inspiring add, but the Brewers were confident they found something they could fix in the veteran. So far, the early results this spring have been encouraging.
Miley followed up a 2-inning scoreless debut on Sunday with an even more impressive 2.1-inning outing to start Thursday’s game. Once again, he didn’t walk anyone, threw 32 of 49 pitches for strikes, allowed just 2 hits (one of them an infield single on a high chopper over the middle) and struck out 5 batters. He’s yet to allow a run or a walk over his first 4.1 spring innings and has consistently been throwing strikes and inducing groundballs. As the Brewers try to figure out the back of the rotation, Miley has been an encouraging early development over the first week of spring games.
Not to be outdone, another pitcher in the hunt for a rotation spot, Brent Suter, also threw 2 scoreless innings, striking out 3 while not allowing a hit or a walk. He threw 16 of 24 pitches for strikes.
From there, it was the first Arizona action for a few of the big-name bullpen arms that had yet to appear.
Corey Knebel made his spring debut in the 6th inning and issued a leadoff walk to infielder Jack Reinheimer. After Knebel got a ground ball that ate up third baseman Luis Aviles and prevented him from starting a possible double play, Reinheimer moved up to second. That play ended up turning into a run after Knebel surrendered an RBI single to Cesar Puello, but he was able to get out of the inning without further damage by striking out Yosmany Tomas.
Matt Albers followed with a 1-2-3 7th inning, although two of the outs were hit hard, including the first -- which was made on an impressive running grab in right-center field nearing the warning track by prospect Trent Grisham.
Josh Hader worked the 8th inning, getting a lineout, a strikeout looking and a strikeout on a check swing. The Oliver Drake was sent to the mound in the 9th to finish the game, which he did with three groundouts that surrounded a “double” that was more the result of a poor outfield route.
Offensively, not a lot went the Brewers’ way early, with almost all of the damage being done in the second half of the afternoon.
Eric Thames was supposed to lead off and play first base, but was a late scratch due to back stiffness. He was replaced by Jesus Aguilar with Keon Broxton bumped up to the leadoff spot. Aguilar went 0-for-3, but was robbed of a pair of hits on some impressive defensive plays.
Hernan Perez continued his hot start to spring by ripping a ball to left-center with the bases loaded in the 5th inning to break a scoreless tie. The ball landed just in front of centerfielder Rey Fuentes, who dove for it and missed, allowing the ball to roll to the wall and score all three runs. Perez was credited with a triple to go with his 3 RBI.
Christian Bethancourt singled and Grisham doubled with two outs in the 8th inning, but Jake Gatewood was unable to drive in the insurance runs (although he was the victim of a nifty play made up the middle for the final out).
Weston Wilson and Nick Franklin both singled in the 9th to give the Brewers men on first and third with two outs, and Keston Hiura continued his very good spring with an opposite field RBI single to the gap in right-center to give the Brewers a BMIR. Jacob Nottingham followed with a 2-RBI double that bounced off the top of the fence and back into play.
With another win, the Brewers improve to 6-1-1 in Cactus League play, but still trail the Royals in the standings, who have yet to lose. The Brewers will head back to Maryvale to host the Mariners tomorrow for the next #JuniorGuerraDay.