W - Vince Velasquez (2-2)
L - Freddy Peralta (2-2)
SV - Hector Neris (9)
HR - PHI: Rhys Hoskins (12); MIL: Christian Yelich (20), Orlando Arcia (5)
For 4 innings Friday night, it looked like we were headed for another crazy back-and-forth slugfest at Miller Park.
The Brewers and Phillies traded runs in the first two innings before the Brewers were able to score 2 in the bottom of the 3rd to take a 4-2 lead. That chased Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff early, but the Brewers struggled to get anything going against the hard-throwing Philadelphia bullpen after that. Meanwhile, the Phils offense continued to chip away with single runs in 6 of the first 7 innings to once again take a series opener against the Brewers, 6-4.
Chase Anderson also labored through a short start, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits in 4 innings, although he did strike out 4 and didn’t walk anyone or allow a home run. The Phillies were able to work long at-bats, though, forcing Anderson to throw 83 pitches in those 4 innings.
He was in trouble early, when Andrew McCutchen led off the game by splitting the right-center gap with a hard-hit double on the game’s second pitch. He would later come around to score on a Bryce Harper sacrifice fly to give the Phillies the early 1-0 lead.
The Brewers would respond with two outs in the bottom half of the 1st inning, though, with Ryan Braun singling and coming around to score all the way from first on an RBI double by Mike Moustakas down the right field line.
Anderson would give up two more doubles in the 2nd inning, though, the second of which by Scott Kingery drove in Cesar Hernandez to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead. More 2-out magic from the Brewers in the bottom half of the 2nd would tie the game back up, though, with Orlando Arcia teeing off on an impressive home run to dead center field off the batter’s eye to make it 2-2.
The Brewers would add on more after Anderson forced a rare 1-2-3 inning in the top of the 3rd, with Christian Yelich hitting his league-leading 20th home run, becoming the fastest player to 20 home runs since Josh Hamilton in 2012 (Hamilton went on to hit 43 home runs in 148 games that year).
They would add yet another 2-out run run later in the inning when Moustakas would walk and come around to score from first base on an RBI double by Yasmani Grandal, giving the Brewers a 4-2 lead.
A couple of scoring opportunities did go by unfulfilled in the 4th and 5th innings, though, and together may have defined this game.
In the 4th, Keston Hiura led off with a single and stole second before advancing to third on an Arcia groundout, but Jesus Aguilar (pinch-hitting for Anderson) struck out looking and Lorenzo Cain grounded out to end the inning.
In the 5th, Yelich led off the inning with a walk and made it to third on a hit-and-run single to center by Braun, setting up first-and-third with nobody out. But Vince Velasquez, who came into this game striking out 9.5 batters per 9 innings, struck out Moustakas and Grandal on tantalizing high fastballs before Craig Counsell tried to sneak a run across with a double steal attempt, only to see Yelich thrown out at home on a pair of strong throws by J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura.
In between those missed opportunities, the Phillies were able to tie the game with a run in both innings, thanks to an infield single RBI in the 4th and a Harper RBI double on a hit-and-run that had Segura running from first base.
Freddy Peralta came on in relief in the 6th inning for the Brewers and gave up a leadoff single to Kingery before striking out Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera. McCutchen was next with 2 outs, but was waiting for a high fastball, and hit a deep fly ball to left field that saw Braun mistime his jump at the wall and have the ball glance off his glove, allowing Kingery to score the go-ahead run.
Philly added its final run in the 7th inning on a solo home run by Rhys Hoskins off of Peralta.
In the meantime, the Brewers only managed one baserunner after that missed opportunity in the 5th inning -- a single by Grandal with 2 outs in the 8th -- and 7 of the Brewers’ final 13 batters struck out, including the last 3 in the 9th inning against Phillies closer Hector Neris.
It’d be easy to get upset at those strikeouts, but the Brewers finished the game with the same amount of strikeouts as the Phillies (11), and drew the same amount of walks (2). The difference ended up being the 4 doubles the Phillies hit to the Brewers’ 2, which is understandable considering the lineup Philadelphia runs out every night.
If there was a positive in the late innings, it was Corbin Burnes throwing 2 shutout innings to finish out the game, striking out Harper and Hoskins swinging to end the top of the 9th.
The last time the Brewers lost the first game in the series to the Phillies, the Brewers bounced back to dominate the final 3 games of the series. They’ll hope for more of the same starting tomorrow afternoon for a rare 3 p.m. Saturday start. Jhoulys Chacin will take the ball against Jake Arrieta.