All year long, there was talk both locally and nationally about the deficient starting pitching in Milwaukee. The Brewers didn’t go out and get that coveted “ace” starter at the July 31st trade deadline, but they did make an addition to their rotation on August 31st - veteran lefty Gio Gonzalez, who was in the midst of a down season with the Nationals. But the southpaw was able to step up in a big way after getting plopped in the middle of a pennant race, and that includes an outstanding outing today in a must-win game 162 for the Cream City Nine.
Gonzalez worked around some hard contact early, but he faced relatively little trouble overall while navigating through five scoreless innings. He gave up two hits in the first but allowed only one more the rest of the way, and issued just one walk against two strikeouts. Gonzalez made five regular season starts for the Brewers down the stretch, logging 25.1 innings while allowing only six earned runs. His spot in a hypothetical postseason rotation seems pretty secure.
Milwaukee’s offense put pressure on Detroit starter Spencer Turnbull from the get-go, plating two runs right away in the first inning on a Jesus Aguilar infield single and a Mike Moustakas base hit. Aguilar added another run in the third inning when he smacked his 35th dinger of the year, a solo shot to make it 3-0.
Our hero, Junior Guerra, was called upon to hold the lead in the 6th inning. He delivered a scoreless frame that featured two whiffs and a single by Niko Goodrum, who was promptly picked off at first base by catcher Manny Pina. Pineapple came up big again in the bottom half of the inning, lifting a sacrifice fly to left field with one out to make it 4-0.
Guerra tossed another scoreless inning with a punchout in the seventh, and then was allowed to bat for himself to lead off the bottom half of the seventh against a new pitcher, Sandy Baez. He lined a single back up the middle for his fourth hit of the season and began a lengthy rally that blew the game open. LoCain doubled to put runners on 2nd and 3rd. Yelich was intentionally walked. Ryan Braun doubled to plate two and make it 6-0. Travis Shaw hit a grounder for the first out, then Jesus Aguilar reached on a fielder’s choice error that plated two to make it 8-0. Moose flied out for the second out, then Pina doubled to put runners on second and third. Arcia singled to score two more, 10-0. Curtis Granderson pinch hit rather than Guerra hitting a second time in the inning, and he blooped a single. Pinch-hitter Tyler Saladino then lined out to shortstop to mercifully end the inning.
Jordan Lyles came on and cleaned up the final two innings for the Brewers, allowing two hits but no runs and striking out five. Travis Shaw added one more run to the tally, too, with a solo home run in the 8th inning to push it to 11-0. For Shaw, his 32nd home run this season represents a new career-high.
After jumping out to an early 2-0 lead, the Cardinals proved to be no help while limping to a 10-5 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. That means that both the Lakeview Nine and our boys from the Menomonee Valley finish with a 95-67 record after 162 games, making a tiebreaker game for the NL Central title necessary. That game will take place tomorrow at Wrigley Field (by virtue of Chicago’s 11-8 record against Milwaukee this year) at 12:00 noon. It will be broadcast on ESPN.