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Brewers pitching dominates, Eric Thames homer beats Twins 2-0

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Guerra, Hader, Knebel combine on two hit shutout

Minnesota Twins v Milwaukee Brewers
No Twins fireworks on July 3rd
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

WP: Junior Guerra (5-5); LP: Jake Odorizzi (3-6); Save: Corey Knebel (9); Homeruns: Min - none, Mil - Eric Thames (12)

A minimalist Box Score

Some 2-0 games are tense affairs, and some have such dominant pitching that they almost feel like a rout. Milwaukee Brewers (50-35) starter Junior Guerra had a tough first inning, allowing a one out double and two walks to load the bases, but he escaped the inning with a pop-out to short and a flyball into deep left-center that was run down by Keon Broxton. After that, Juni G was in control.

The Minnesota Twins (35-47) had just one more hit off of Guerra (in fact, they had just one more hit in the game). Guerra retired nine in a row until a one out walk in the fourth was followed by another error by shortstop Brad Miller, this time on a dropped throw on a sure double play ball. Junior finished the inning with a called strike three on Jake Cave and an unassisted put-out by Jesus Aguillar at first.

In the fifth Guerra retired the first three he faced with two strikeouts, except catcher Erik Kratz tried to backhand strike three to Jorge Polanco, allowing the ball to skip past him for a wild pitch and a base runner. Eddie Rosario then collected Minnesota’s second hit, putting runners at first and second, but Guerra struck out Eduardo Escobar to end the inning with three K’s.

Guerra’s line was five innings, two hits, no runs, three walks, and eight strikeouts. The outing lowers his season ERA to 2.87, right about where he was for the 2016 season.

Nate Orf pinch-hit for Guerra against Twins’ starter Jake Odorizzi leading off the bottom of the fifth and drew a walk. One out later Eric Thames took an Odorizzi hanging slider out on a line into the Beer Pen in right for a 2-0 lead. Travis Shaw added a single an out later, but the final ten Brewer batters were retired. In all, Milwaukee struck out 16 times. 3:10 start times are brutal at this time of year at Miller Park because of the shadows, and the Twins added 13 strikeouts on a day where the teams combined for six hits.

Craig Counsell went with Josh Hader in the sixth, and despite only fanning two (both in the sixth) Josh went three innings for the first time this season. He allowed a two out walk in the eighth, but retired the last hitter on a lazy pop-up to center. Hader’s lack of strikeouts were probably why Counsell felt comfortable letting him go three, as his pitch count was down. He finished his three innings of work with just 36 pitches.

Corey Knebel had his second consecutive dominant inning, striking out Robbie Grossman, Cave, and Logan Morrison - all looking - for his ninth save. Knebel got the win last night.

Game Notes:

  • Jesus Aguilar walked in the first but then struck out three straight times.
  • Jonathan Villar joined Aguilar in the three strikeout club.
  • Cave wore the golden sombrero for the Twins with four strikeouts. Cave’s last strikeout was an odd affair against Knebel in the ninth - he took one right down the middle and started to walk to the dugout, and Kratz started to throw to Shaw at third, but Marty Foster never called the pitch. Kratz and Cave both stopped, and then Foster called him out. Cave was understandably upset, and I’m not sure but I think Foster tossed him from the game.
  • It looked like Milwaukee would get on top in the bottom of the third when a double by Miller and single by Thames had runners at first and third with nobody out, but Aguilar struck out, Shaw popped into shallow left, and Ryan Braun added his second strikeout. Braunie did hit the ball in his last at bat, lining out to left.
  • Once again, the Brewers’ hitters just stopped after they took the lead. Over the last three innings they had no base runners and struck out seven times in nine at bats.
  • I don’t like Facebook games, but the broadcast team of Scott Braun, Latroy Hawkins, and Rock Schroeder worked very well together, and their dugout interviews with Kyle Gibson of Minnesota and Brent Suter of the Brewers were informative and interesting.

So the Brewers have finally won another series, and will go for a sweep of the Twins tomorrow afternoon, again with a 3:10 start time, this time on FSN Wisconsin. Minnesota goes with Jose Berrios (8-6, 3.52) and Milwaukee sends out Chase Anderson (6-6, 4.18). After a Cubs win today the Brewers still hold a 1 game lead in the NL Central.