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Ivan Nova, Pirates quiet Brewers 3-1

Brewers can’t get any small ball going in big loss

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers
Number 30 for Yeli
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

WP: Ivan Nola (9-9); LP: Zach Davies (2-6); Save: Felipe Vazquez (33); Homeruns: Pit - none; Mil - Christian Yelich (30)

This Box Score is a disappointment

The Milwaukee Brewers (85-64) dropped to 2.5 games behind the Chicago Cubs tonight by dropping a 3-1 decision to their biggest nemesis of the 2018 season, the Pittsburgh Pirates (73-74). With the LA Dodgers win over the Cardinals, they take over the second Wild Card spot and trail the Brewers by three.

The Brewers jumped out on top again, just like last night, and again it was on a homer by Christian Yelich in the bottom of the first. This time it was a one out solo shot, his 30th on the season, but Milwaukee could never push across any other runs. Ivan Nola had a very good start over six innings for the Bucs, allowing four hits, walking one, and fanning four.

Milwaukee starter Zach Davies didn’t pitch badly; he walked one - Corey Dickerson, and he came around to score in the second on a bloop two out double from Colin Moran, punched down the left field line. Yelich played it well and was in position for a carom, but it hit the top rail and just dropped straight down and Dickerson beat the throw to the plate.

Davies had three three-up, three-down innings, but when he gave up baserunners he gave up runs...well, a single run twice. The top of the fourth was led off by Josh Bell, and he lined a one hopper to second baseman Travis Shaw, who was shifted into short right. Bell hustled right out of the box and Shaw seemed surprised that he was so close to first as he threw, and Bell beat it out.

Francisco Cervelli then pulled one past Moustakas for a double that plated Bell. 2-0 Pirates.

Davies was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fifth, and Dan Jennings retired his only batter in the sixth. Jacob Barnes came on and struggled to control...well, anything. He gave up another Pirate double to Starling Marte on a poorly located cutter, then Burnes walked Bell. With Cervelli up Pittsburgh pulled off a double steal, and when Erik Kratz throw went into center for an error, Marte scored.

Cervelli subsequently was called out on strikes. Francisco reacted like he had been shot and went off on home plate umpire Trip Gibson. Gibson gave him some rope, and with Clint Hurdle rushing out to protect his catcher, Cervelli couldn’t keep quiet, and was tossed. Hurdle, of course, had to “protect” his player and got tossed himself. And of course, the pitch was a strike.

In any case, Barnes then walked Dickerson, and Craig Counsell had seen enough, replacing Jacob with Junior Guerra. Guerra got the third out of the sixth, then all the outs in the seventh and eighth (he did give up a hit in the seventh). Juni G struck out three.

After Jordan Lyles had a scoreless ninth (with a caught stealing that was initially ruled safe on an atrocious call), the Brewers led off the bottom of the ninth against Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez with two singles to get the crowd into things. Ryan Braun led off with a pinch single, and Jesus Aguilar followed with a solid single to left.

But that’s as far as it went, and after three outs Milwaukee had lost 3-1 and dug their hole a bit deeper with just thirteen games remaining. Milwaukee goes again tomorrow afternoon for the series win, with Jhoulys Chacin (14-7, 3.54) taking the mound. Pirates’ ace Trevor Williams (12-9, 3.28) will face the Crew, and he has been exceedingly tough in the second half. This one won’t be easy.

Game Notes:

  • Pardon my French, but this day rather stunk for Wisconsin sports fans. (Okay, I didn’t really think “stunk”.) I had the unmitigated joy of attending the Badgers football game vs BYU, then rushing home to watch the Brewer game. Oh joy!
  • Yelich’s homer was so high that I thought it had no chance of leaving the park. And it went 406’ with an exit velocity of 104 mph. I really don’t know how he generates so much power to center and left...he also flew out to the warning track in straight away left, and had a single. He seems to be an extraordinary hitter.
  • Jesus Aguilar had three hits (yay!), and on the double leading off the bottom of the seventh I was yelling at him to not try for two, and then yelling at him to not go to third on a wild pitch. He was safe both times. Of course, yelling at a guy on my TV is ineffective. And yelling at a guy that I am watching on my DVR is absurd. So it goes.
  • I have said this before, and every time I watch him my opinion gets reinforced: Francisco Cervelli is the biggest whiner in baseball. He should be playing soccer.