Today, the Milwaukee Brewers — specifically, Brandon Woodruff — remembered that you don’t need to spot your opponent three runs in the first inning of every game. The starting pitching for the Menomonee Valley Nine has had a rough go of it lately, so it was quite a welcome sight to see Woodruff work through the top half of the beginning frame while posting a zero on the scoreboard.
Early on, this game against the Queen City Nine was setting up as a good old-fashioned pitcher’s duel. Opposing starter Anthony DeSclafani began the game by setting down the first six hitters he faced on strikes as he worked to keep pace with Woodruff’s scoreless innings. But after Brandon struck out the side in the top of the third inning, the offense went to work.
First, it was Travis Shaw bashing a well-needed home run of the first pitch he saw from DeSclafani. The 465-foot blast was Shaw’s first since June 11th and only his second since returning from the IL on June 4th. After a punchout from Woodruff, Ben Gamel — batting number nine — singled to center. Yasmani Grandal, once again hitting leadoff, followed with a single of his own. The came Christian Yelich, who roped a double to score Gamel and bring Grandal up to third. Mike Moustakas delivered a two-run single to make it 4-0. After a Ryan Braun strikeout and an Eric Thames walk, Orlando Arcia singled sharply to to center to score Moose and make it a five-run inning. Shaw came back up to the plate and whiffed for the third out, but by the end of the inning, the Brewers have batted around and scored five runs.
Milwaukee added their final two runs in the fifth. With one out, Braun smacked a double, then stole third base with Thames at the plate. Eric wound up lifting a fly ball to center field, scoring Braun on a sac fly for the sixth run. The seventh run came one batter late on a solo shot by Arcia, his 10th dinger of the season.
Woodruff cruised through his start until the sixth inning, when the Reds finally mounted a short rally against him. With one out, Jose Peraza legged out an infield single, then was followed by a line drive base hit from Jesse Winker. That brought Joey Votto to the plate, and the former MVP launched a middle-middle changeup over the fence in center field for a three-run blast. That would be all that Woodruff allowed across his seven complete innings, however. He gave up seven hits and walked only one while striking out a dozen batters. Those 12 whiffs represent a new career-high for the breakout right-hander, who is the owner of a 4.01 ERA and 3.05 FIP through 94.1 innings in 2019.
Alex Claudio started the eighth inning and retired the first two batters he faced, but after walking Votto, he was lifted in favor of Jeremy Jeffress. He got Eugenio Suarez on a fly out to end the inning, then came back out for the ninth to try and finish things off. The final inning didn’t go very smoothly for JJ, with hits by Nick Senzel (single), Yasiel Puig (double), and Curt Casali (single) plating two additional runs for the Reds. But Jeffress was able to wriggle out of the self-inflicted mess to nail down the victory, though he saw his ERA rise to 3.81 in the process.
The 7-5 triumph salvages a four-game series split for the Brewers in advance of their off-day on Monday. The record improves to 42-36, which is a half-game behind the Cubs for top spot in the National League Central. Milwaukee will begin a three-game, interleague series with the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday evening at Miller Park. First pitch is scheduled to 7:10 PM central, with Zach Davies set to face off against Marco Gonzales of the Emerald City Nine.