This road stand had been a bit of a nightmare for Milwaukee prior to coming to Pittsburgh. If the Brewers’ ever needed to sweep a series, this series with the Pirates was it. Tonight they finished the three game sweep by beating Pittsburgh 8-3 and moved their record to 60-56 on the season. With the win, they remained within three games of the Chicago Cubs in the division.
There were multiple story lines in tonight’s contest beyond the sweep. Craig Counsell’s decision to make this a bullpen game was the major story line coming into the game. With Zach Davies being the third starting pitcher on the injured list, Counsell really had no choice in the decision making process beyond who he would have open the game. Drew Pomeranz got the honor, and he was good.
Pomeranz set down the first seven hitters he faced before the eighth place hitter Jacob Stallings came to the plate. Stallings ambushed a cutter out of the zone that flew just over the left field wall and glove of Trent Grisham. That would be the only earned run the Brewers would give up in this game.
Another big story line in this game was Keston Hiura. Hiura came into this game fighting through his first real slump as a major leaguer. He was 4 for his last 32. That changed in a big way as he went 3 for 4 with two home runs and a double.
Hiura and the Brewers got the offense rolling early and often in this one. In the top of the first and two outs, Mike Moustakas delivered a double on a liner to the right field wall. Hiura followed with a bombed that cleared the wall in right centerfield for Hiura’s 12th homer of the season.
Milwaukee added on in the second inning. Ryan Braun ripped a line drive down the right field line. Melky Cabrera had a little trouble picking up the ball, and Braun was able to leg out a triple. Ben Gamel followed with a deep fly ball to centerfield that Braun was able to tag and score on.
The Brewers kept scoring in third inning. Yasmani Grandal singled into left. Keston Hiura, later in the inning, ripped a double down the left field line. Grandal trotted into third. With runners on second and third, Eric Thames came through with a single past the shift into right field. Grandal and Hiura both scored, and the Brewers had a 5-0 lead before Stallings was able to get the Pirates on the board in the bottom of the third.
Not only was Pomeranz good in this one, the rest of the bullpen was as well (another storyline). Junior Guerra took over for Pomeranz in the fourth and delivered two quality innings. The next story line of the game took over the sixth and seventh innings.
Devin Williams major league debut proved to be an impressive one. Although he gave up the only other two runs the Pirates would score, they were unearned. He induced weak contact when the Pirates’ hitters made contact. His change up was effective. His fastball set between 96-98 mph with life. It seems the only thing holding this kid back is command. It looks like Williams is another quality arm coming up through the Brewers’ system with major upside that could turn into to something.
Jeremy Jeffress would have to come into the seventh to bail Williams out of the inning. However Williams ran into some bad luck. An error on a throw in the dirt by Moustakas that Thames was unable to field along with a couple of soft contact hits put Williams into more trouble than his pitching performance should have allowed.
Jeffress did give up a hit to Starlin Marte that allowed the Pirates to score their third and final run of the game. Jeffress would shut down Pittsburgh from there reaching 96 mph on the fastball and throwing a devastating split-change that had been “null and void” for him for most of this season.
Milwaukee would tack three more runs on the board. One of those story lines was responsible for one of those runs. Keston Hiura hit a solo shot in the sixth inning for his 13th of the season. By the way, if you combine his AAA and MLB totals this season, that home run was his 32nd of the season. The kid can hit.
In the top of the sixth, Yasmani Grandal did what he seems to do as well as anyone, induce a walk. On a tough slider, Orlando Arcia rolled over it sending a slow roller up the third base line that resulted in an infield single. With runners on first and second and no one out, Craig Counsell went for the jugular. He sent Lorenzo Cain up to pinch hit, and actually stay in the game for Ryan Braun. After a passed ball by Stallings that sent Grandal and Arcia to second and third, he delivered with a flare single up the right field line scoring both Grandal and Arcia.
Freddy Peralta finished the Pirates off in the ninth. 1-2-3 inning by the young Brewers’ future closer, and the sweep was complete as the Brewers won 8-3.
The next game for the Brewers will be Friday at Miller Park. The Texas Rangers come to town. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 CT as Gio Gonzalez will take the mound for the Brewers. He will face off with newly acquired Kolby Allard. The game will be broadcast by WTMJ via radio and Fox Sports Wisconsin via television.