WP: Junior Guerra (4-5); LP: Amir Garrett (0-1); Save: Corey Knebel (8); Home runs: Mil - Jesus Aguilar (19), Eric Thames (10); Cin- Jose Peraza (4), Jesse Winkler (6)
Box Score - yay!
I don’t know that I’ve enjoyed a Brewer win this much all year, which is saying something. The Milwaukee Nine (47-33) topped the Cincinnati Reds (34-47) by coming back from two two-run deficits, surviving an injury to Christian Yelich, and making key plays offensively, defensively, and on the mound.
The game was played in three distinct sections. The Reds won the first third; the two teams tied in the middle third, and the Brewers emphatically won the final third.
After the Brewers went down against Anthony DeSclafani in the top of the first, Jose Peraza drilled a Junior Guerra 2-0 fastball deep into left center for a homer and a 1-0 lead. Tucker Barnhart hit a hard line drive into right center that Eric Thames played into a double, and he later scored on a gapper double by Eugenio Suarez.
That lead held into the top of the third, when Keon Broxton (who replaced Yelich - sore back - in the first) topped an infield roller for a hit, and took second on a bad throw by DeSclafani. Jesus Aguilar then pulled a homerun down the leftfield line to tie things up 2-2.
The Reds regained the lead in the bottom of the third. Juni G retired the first two hitters but gave up a double to Suarez and an opposite field homerun into the same spot as Aguilar’s dinger to give the Reds a 4-2 lead. After the Brewers had pulled even this was a very deflating moment.
For innings four, five, and six, each team had one single and no runs. The Brewer bats seemed as dormant as they had in recent games when they fell behind, but the Reds couldn’t build on their lead against Guerra.
In the top of the seventh DeSclafani caught Brad Miller looking on strike three to open the inning, but then walked Erik Kratz on four pitches. When Orlando Arcia drilled a single to center Reds manager Jim Riggleman went with lefty Amir Garrett to hold his two run lead.
Garrett retired pinch hitter Jonathan Villar (pinch hitting for Guerra) on a weak pop to short for the second out, but fell behind Thames 2-0. Thames had yet to drive in a run against a lefty this season, but Garrett’s 2-0 fastball down the middle to Eric was turned around for a three-run bomb into deep right center, and Milwaukee led 5-4. This sudden turn of events changed so much in the game that you have to step back and reflect to think about it. For instance, Taylor Williams had been warming up to go for Milwaukee in the bottom of the seventh - but suddenly the Brewers had the lead. What to do?
Well, Craig Counsell went with Williams. He walked his first batter (Peraza), and Barnhart bunted him to second. Barnhart was bunting for a hit, but Travis Shaw made a fine play to retire him; Barnhart was gifted a sacrifice bunt. Williams stayed in and got a first pitch flyball to left from Joey Votto (whew), and THEN Counsell went to Jeremy Jeffress to face the league’s leading hitter, Scooter Gennett (really!).
That’s when it really looked like the Brewers might pull this one out. Gennett lined a pitch toward right that Brad Miller speared for the third out of the inning, preserving the lead and sending the game to the top of the eighth. The grab re-established JJ as a reliever that doesn’t allow inherited runners to score, and he pitched the bottom of the eighth like he meant it.
After a scoreless Brewer eighth, Jeffress struck out the side in the bottom half. Every pitch in Jeremy’s repertoire was on point, and the Reds had no chance.
The Crew used the top of the ninth to tack on a BMIR on a double by Miller, a balk, and a sac fly from pinch hitter Eric Sogard (EVERYBODY contributed tonight). Corey Knebel had the ninth, and fanned two while working around a single by Billy Hamilton. Voila! A tense, tight, come-back, keep the Cubs 2.5 back win in Cincy.
Why do the Reds pitch to Eric Thames again?
Jesus Aguilar had three hits, including his homer. He leads the NL in homers, and now has an OPS of 1.018. Wow.
David Stearns is good at his job. Brad Miller.
Orlando Arcia had two hits and a walk.
Junior Guerra finally got a win in a game where he really had to battle, and allowed four ernies on eight hits and a walk in six innings. But he retired ten of the last eleven he faced and struck out the last two batters - six total.
Billy Hamilton had two hits for the Reds. Of course.
The Reds bat the pitcher eighth. That spot garnered a golden sombrero tonight.
Chase Anderson (5-6, 4.37) tries to get back to good starts (not every start can be against the Cubs, Chase - but I look forward to your start against them in the playoffs) against the Reds’ Sal Romano (4-7, 5.40) tomorrow night.