Ryan Braun has had some memorable moments in Petco Park.
He made his MLB debut and collected his first career RBI against Greg Maddux there. He hit his first career home run there. He has a three-homer game there.
It started in the first inning, when Lorenzo Cain — who has gotten off to a ridiculously hot start in his return to Milwaukee — doubled off of rookie Joey Lucchesi to start the game. After Cain stole third, Braun drove Cain in with a one-out groundout for his first RBI of the young season. He later added a sac fly in the 5th inning, but heading into the 9th inning, he had yet to collect a base hit this season.
2-outs.— FOX Sports Wisconsin (@fswisconsin) March 31, 2018
RYAN BRAUN! pic.twitter.com/HWzDwmRXe8
Braun’s 3-run, 402-foot bomb capped off a 5-run 9th inning for the Brewers off of San Diego closer Brad Hand, who was coming off a 2-inning outing on Opening Day.
Before the cathartic release of Braun’s go-ahead home run, things weren’t looking good for the Brewers.
Jhoulys Chacin, who had so much success at Petco Park last year as a member of the Padres, couldn’t make it out of the 4th inning against the former teammates who looked like they had him well-scouted. Chacin gave up 4 runs — 3 of which came on back-to-back home runs by Cory Spangenberg and Austin Hedges in the 2nd inning — and left with the bases loaded before new signing Dan Jennings induced an inning-ending double play.
The Brewers got to Lucchesi early, tagging him for 7 hits and 3 runs in 4.2 innings, but after Braun’s sac fly and Lucchesi’s exit from the game, the bats fell silent until the final frame. Kazuhisa Makita, Craig Stammen and Kirby Yates combined to throw 3.1 hitless innings before Hand took the mound in the 9th.
When Brandon Woodruff and Oliver Drake each gave up a run in relief, things weren’t looking good late. The Brewers faced a 6-3 deficit against the Padres’ All-Star representative from last year.
The way the top of the 9th inning started might’ve been a sign that it was going to end up being the Brewers’ night, though. Manny Pina led off the 9th with a bloop single, and then Jesus Aguilar followed with a bloop hit of his own, muscling a pitch he got jammed on into the outfield, just out of reach for Jose Pirela.
After Orlando Arcia narrowly missed ripping a double down the third base line, he shortened up his swing with two strikes and ended up hitting a dribbler back to Hand. But Hand fumbled the pickup, eliminating the chance of a double play, and Arcia beat the throw to first to load the bases. Jonathan Villar followed with an RBI single up the middle to cut the lead to 6-4, and a groundout by Cain added another run.
Despite the mini-rally, things still looked dire after Eric Hosmer was able to pick a hard-hit shot by Christian Yelich deep at first and gun down Arcia at the plate. The contact play was on, but Yelich hit the ball so hard and Hosmer’s throw was so perfect that Arcia was out by a mile.
That brought up Braun, who has missed some crushable pitches over the past couple years as he’s gotten older. He didn’t miss the 0-2 92 mph two-seamer that Hand left up and down the middle, and he gave the Brewers the lead.
Corey Knebel, who blew a save while trying to protect a one-run lead on Opening Day, struck out the side in the bottom of the 9th to secure the Brewers’ first 2-0 start since 2008. You may remember that as a playoff season.
At the start of the 9th inning, the Brewers had a win probability of just 3%.
The Brewers try to go for the sweep tomorrow night with Brent Suter on the mound. It’ll be a national broadcast with first pitch coming at 7:30 p.m. CDT on FS1.
WP: Oliver Drake (1-0), LP: Brad Hand (0-1), SV: Corey Knebel (1)
HR: SD - Cory Spangenberg (1), Austin Hedges (1); MIL - Ryan Braun (1)