WP: Junior Guerra (2-0); LP: Caleb Smith (0-3); Save: Josh Hader (3); Home runs: Mia - none; Mil - Christian Yelich (2)
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The Milwaukee Brewers (14-9) bumped their winning streak to six with a 4-2 win over the Miami Marlins (5-16) at Miller Park Sunday afternoon, and remain tied with the St. Louis Cardinals (13-8) for first in the NL Central.
The win also completed Milwaukee’s first four game home sweep since August of 2008. Today’s win wasn’t a thing of beauty, and was aided by, well, some poor baseball and dumb baseball from Marlins' first baseman Justin Bour. A fielding error from Bour in the bottom of the seventh allowed the Brewers to add to a one run lead, and a baserunning blunder in the top of the eighth closed out an inning where the Marlins had moved back within a run.
The Brewers fielded poorly - to be precise, the catchers fielded poorly; a first inning catcher’s interference put J.T. Realmuto on first with one out, and he scored on a two out double by Bour. The other Marlins’ run was also unearned when a passed ball by Jett Bandy allowed Realmuto to take second and later score on a single by (you guessed it) Bour. Bour then took off on a shallow pop-up to center that Lorenzo Cain cruised under. Cain’s throw to first pulled Jesus Aguilar a good 15 feet off the bag, but Bour had run much too far to come close to getting back.
At the plate, the Brewers struck out 14 times, and were efficient with their hits. They went three up, three down in five of their eight innings at the plate, but when they got base runners, they scored. They trailed 1-0 into the bottom of the fourth, having gone down nine straight (with six strikeouts) in the first three innings against Miami starter Caleb Smith. But Cain led off with a two strike single to right, and Christian Yelich turned a 2-1 fastball around and lined a homer just over the center field fence.
Smith then retired the next nine (4 K’s) before leaving for a pinch hitter after six very good innings. A one-out walk to Travis Shaw was followed by a single from Jesus Aguilar (a poke into rightfield on a tough low and away slider) and a four pitch walk to Eric Sogard to load the bases. Miami had no lefties in the pen, so Craig Counsell sent up Sunday bobblehead hero Eric Thames with a shot at blowing the game wide open. Thames pulled the first pitch he saw right to Bour, who bobbled and then kicked the ball to allow an insurance run to cross the plate. Unearned insurance runs count just as much as earned ones.
The bottom of the eighth started with a Cain walk and steal of second, but Yelich and Ryan Braun struck out. Miami elected to walk Travis Shaw intentionally to get to Aguilar (really?), and Jesus just drilled a 3-0 fastball into left for an RBI single. The ball was perhaps catchable for Derek Dietrich, who started in, but it would have been iffy.
Brewer starting pitcher and winner Junior Guerra wasn’t quite as effective as Smith for the Marlins, but gave up less. He allowed the unearned run in the first on the interference, a double, and a single, hit a batter in the second, and then allowed a leadoff hit in the third that was erased in a nifty Aguilar-Sogard-Guerra double play to end the inning.
After settling down for two perfect innings, Guerra loaded the bases with Marlins with none down to start the sixth. Mid-game closer Jeremy Jeffress did his thing at perhaps the most pivotal part of the game by getting a strikeout, foul pop to Shaw, and the fanning Lewis Brinson to end the sixth with no Marlin runs. Guerra ended the day with 5+ innings, 5 hits, an unearned run, one walk, and four strikeouts. The sixth was Jeffress’ only inning.
Matt Albers had a perfect seventh with two K’s, and Josh Hader worked the final two innings for his second two inning save of the season (and third overall), giving up that unearned run in the eighth but striking out three over his two innings.
So Milwaukee won a game in which they allowed two unearned runs, only amassed four hits, and struck out fourteen times. We (and they) will take it.
After an off day Monday, the Brewers go on the road for nine, starting with two in Kansas City against the Royals, who are 5-15 after a win today. Tuesday night’s game has Zach Davies (1-2, 4.84) on the hill for the Crew and Ian Kennedy (1-2, 2.35) going for KC.