Adrian Houser of the Milwaukee Brewers had struggled as a starter this year and Tyler Mahle of the Cincinnati Reds entered tonight’s tilt with eight losing decisions under his belt, so naturally, this game at Great American Ballpark started off as a pitcher’s duel. The Brewers didn’t record their first hit until the fifth inning. Houser matched Mahle with five scoreless innings of his own to begin the game, scattering just four hits.
But on a 91 degree night that the broadcast referred to numerous times as “hitter-ish,” the offense wouldn’t stay down forever.
Our Milwaukee Nine struck first on a home run off the bat of Keston Hiura leading off the fifth against Mahle. But Cincinnati struck back quickly an inning later, perhaps taking advantage of a tiring Adrian Houser as he worked his deepest MLB start of the season so far. Jesse Winker led off the sixth with a home run off Houser, who then issued a walk to Joey Votto. The next batter, Eugenio Suarez, hit an 86 MPH changeup over the fence in left-center on the ninth pitch of the at-bat. That caused Craig Counsell to come out and yank Houser, who ended with a line of 5+ innings, 6 hits, 3 earned runs, a walk, and two strikeouts. He threw 75 pitches. Alex Claudio came on to stop the bleeding and did so quite admirably, retiring Scooter Gennett (strikeout), Nick Senzel (ground out), and Derek Dietrich (ground out) in order.
(Alex Claudio has pitched very well since Minnesota, only giving up 2 ER in 14 innings, a 1.29 ERA)— big ole bucket of sassy (@mjames323) July 2, 2019
It was Milwaukee’s turn to chase the starter in the 7th. Lorenzo Cain leaned back and lined one out over the fence for his fifth home run of the year and first since May 3rd to lead off the inning, bringing the Brewers to within 3-2. Eric Thames followed with a single and that was it for Mahle, who was replaced by David Hernandez. He, however, did not have it tonight. Hiura singled to put runners on first and second. Ben Gamel doubled to score Thames and tie the game at 3 apiece. After a Ryan Braun fly out, Tyler Saladino walked to load the bases. Then Yasmani Grandal walked to force in the go-ahead run. Christian Yelich followed with an RBI single to make it 5-3. Mike Moustakas hit a sac fly that scored Saladino and made it 6-3. LoCain made it book-ends for the inning by flying out as the 10th man to the plate.
Corbin Burnes struck out the side in the 7th, then Counsell turned the game over to Josh Hader in the 8th. The club’s pitcher of the month in June hadn’t allowed a hit over his last eight appearances, but month of July got off on the wrong foot. After striking out Jose Peraza to start the inning, Hader allowed a single to Joey Votto. Hader fell behind the next hitter Suarez, 3-0, before delivering two fastballs that both came in around belt-high. The second one was a 95 MPH heater that Eugenio smashed over the fence in center field to make it a 6-5 game. Hader retired the next two hitter to escape the inning without further damage.
In the 9th, Grandal drew a one-out walk off of Robert Stephenson ahead of Yelich. Christian fell behind 0-2 before popping up the third pitch of the at-bat, a 96 MPH fastball, to left field. But somehow, it kept going, and going, until...
LOL pic.twitter.com/KhyuXTBBbo— Jack Stern, Travis Shaw supporter (@baseball7310) July 2, 2019
It was Yelich’s 30th home run of the season, setting the franchise record for most home runs before the All-Star break that was previously held by Prince Fielder (Yelich tied the mark of 29 on June 21st). Christian also becomes only the 29th player in MLB history to hit 30 home runs before the All-Star game. Milwaukee took and 8-5 lead into the bottom of the ninth.
Rather than keep Hader in, Counsell elected to go with Jeremy Jeffress to close things out against the Reds. He gave up two hits and a run, but also recorded a punchout and two groundouts on his way to his first save of the 2019 season. His ERA now stands at 4.18 through 32.1 innings.
The victory moves the Brewers up to 46-39 on the year and into sole possession of first place in the NL Central ahead of the Cubs, who were demolished by the Pirates 18-5. Milwaukee will match up with the Queen City Nine once again tomorrow, with first pitch scheduled for 6:10 PM central. Chase Anderson will toe the slab against Tanner Roark.