Starting pitching has frequently been a problem for the Brewers in the first two-plus weeks of the season. It wasn’t a problem Saturday night.
Chase Anderson became the first Brewers Initial Out-Getter to pitch into the 7th inning this year, and Josh Hader struck out 5 batters en route to a 2-inning save as the Brewers cruised to a 5-1 win over the Mets in New York.
Anderson mowed through the Mets’ lineup that gave Zach Davies fits the night before, not allowing his first hit until there were 2 outs in the bottom of the 5th inning. The lone run the Mets were able to score against him came in the 6th inning, after he came too far inside on Michael Conforto and hit him with a pitch, Conforto moved to second on a ground out, and then scored on a bloop single by Yoenis Cespedes.
Manager Craig Counsell allowed Anderson to become the first Brewer starter to pitch into the 7th inning, but it didn’t last long, as he was pulled after inducing a weak pop out after just two pitches in the inning. He left having thrown just 87 pitches, but facing 23 batters, which matched his season-high. As Kyle hinted at earlier this week, it looks like Counsell may be limiting his starters more on batters faced or times through the order than pitch counts.
Anderson was able to cruise through most of his outing thanks to a big second inning by the offense. Travis Shaw led off the frame by ripping a double against Matt Harvey that likely would’ve been a home run on any other night, but appeared to be knocked down by the significant wind coming in from right field for much of the night. After Domingo Santana drew a walk, Jonathan Villar sliced an opposite-field, 3-run home run to give the Brewers an early 3-0 lead.
You could say that blast was unexpected. After the game, Counsell even said the dugout was “shocked” by the home run, mostly because they thought the wind would push it foul. Despite appearing in all 15 games to this point in the season, that was just Villar’s second extra-base hit of the season.
Shaw and Santana were back at it again in the next frame, hitting back-to-back singles with 2 outs in the 3rd inning. Eric Sogard gave a ball a ride to deep right field, but again, it looked like the wind knocked down what could’ve been at least extra bases, if not another home run.
While the bats came away empty in the 3rd inning, they didn’t in the 4th, as Jett Bandy hit one into the Jett Stream in left-field for a no-doubt home run off of Harvey to give the Brewers a 4-0 lead.
Top third Shaw single, Santana single moves Shaw to 3B with 2 out. Sogard hit it well to deep RF, but wind possible knocked down another ball for a flyout to Jay Freaking Bruce.
Ryan Braun was able to single and steal a base in the 5th inning but was stranded and then was replaced in left field by Hernan Perez in the bottom half of the inning. It was later reported that Braun felt some back tightness after his steal, which is a little concerning considering his recent history of back problems and the current banged-up state of the Brewers’ outfield. Christian Yelich took some swings in the batting cage before today’s game, but the Brewers already announced Yelich wouldn’t be ready to come off the DL after the minimum 10 days.
While there will be plenty of debate over whether Counsell should’ve let Anderson work deeper in the game, especially considering how much the bullpen has worked so far, but it largely worked out on Saturday night. After Jeremy Jeffress allowed a single through a shift in relief of Anderson, he induced an inning-ending double play to finish the 7th inning.
From there, Hader was once again unhittable, striking out the side in the 8th and 2 of the 3 batters he faced in the 9th inning. He’s now struck out 22 batters in 9.2 innings pitched. That strikeout total ranks in the Top 20 in all of Major League Baseball — among all pitchers.
In between Hader’s two innings, Orlando Arcia hit his first home run of the year in the top of the 9th for a BMIR.
The Brewers will look to steal a series win tomorrow at noon against Noah Syndergaard. For what it’s worth, the weather forecast for New York on Sunday afternoon is, uh, not good, but considering the Brewers don’t make another trip to New York this year, it’s likely every effort will be made to play an official game. Jhoulys Chacin is slated to go from the Brewers opposite Thor.
WP: Chase Anderson (1-1), LP: Matt Harvey (0-1), SV: Josh Hader (1)HR: MIL - Jonathan Villar (1), Jett Bandy (1), Orlando Arcia (1)