The Milwaukee Brewers have been ravaged by a spate of injuries this season, but the biggest blow undoubtedly happened in the first inning of series game two in Miami against the Marlins on Tuesday night. Batting third in the top of the first inning, Yelich fouled a ball off his knee in a 1-2 count and went down to the ground for several minutes before leaving the game under his own power. Unfortunately, it was announced after the game that he will miss the rest of the regular season with a right kneecap fracture.
The evening’s events would have been that much worse if the Menomonee Valley Nine had dropped the game against the lowly Marlins, and it was a closely fought contest throughout. Chase Anderson got the start for the Brewers and delivered another short start with decent results. He lasted only four innings before being removed at the 64 pitch mark, but he navigated through to that point while allowing only three hits and two runs with a pair of walks and strikeouts each. Milwaukee led 3-2 when he exited, scoring two runs in the second inning on a home run by Hernan Perez that scored Cory Spangenberg with two outs and then adding another in the third thanks to a Yasmani Grandal double that drove in the pitcher Anderson, who doubled to lead off the frame.
Matt Albers was first out of the ‘pen and worked around a hit and a walk to pitch 1.1 scoreless innings. Alex Claudio got an out in the sixth then allowed a double, and Ray Black came on and cleaned up the inning by inducing a lineout. Junior Guerra was summoned for the seventh inning and went 1-2-3 with a pair of strikeouts on the bookends, then came back out for the eighth and retired old friend Garrett Cooper on strikes. Junior then fell behind 3-0 to old Chicago nemesis Starlin Castro, who has been one of baseball’s best hitters since the start of July. The free-swinging Castro typically gives himself the green light on 3-0 and when Guerra threw him a get-me-over fastball on the inner part of the plate around the belt, Castro didn’t miss it. Lorenzo Cain just barely did, with the ball landing inches from his outstretched glove in the berm behind the center field fence. That tied the game at 3-3.
Junior walked the next batter Jorge Alfaro, but he was erased on a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play when Isan Diaz waived at a full-count splitter with Alfaro running on the pitch. In the top of the ninth, the offense put pressure on Adam Conley from the start. Grandal singled to lead things off, then Trent Grisham doubled off the lefty to put runners on second and third with no outs. Tyler Austin pinch-hit for Eric Thames and lifted a fly ball to medium center field, and Grandal aggressively took off towards home. The throw from old friend Lewis Brinson was up the line and Yaz scored the go-ahead run to make it a 4-3 game. The Brewers would eventually load the bases with two outs, but Travis Shaw grounded out to first against Tyler Kinley to end the threat before any additional BMIRs could cross the plate.
With Josh Hader down after working on back-to-back days, Drew Pomeranz was given the opportunity to get the final three outs. The bottom half of the ninth started with an Austin Dean single and then a strikeout of Harold Ramirez. Martin Prado singled to put runners on first and second with one out, but Pomeranz induced a line out and then struck out Brinson to secure his first save since the 2015 regular season when he was pitching for the Athletics.
The win — Milwaukee’s fifth in a row — moves them to eight games over .500 at 76-68, and for the moment they are 1.5 games back in the Wild Card race, pending the outcome of the Cubs versus the Padres. Without Yelich, though, just how competitive can we expect this team to be for the final three weeks of the regular season? We’ll begin to find out tomorrow if this will be galvanizing moment for the squad or if they’ll crumble after losing their MVP. First pitch for game three of the series is scheduled for Wednesday at 6:10 PM central, with Zach Davies set to toe the rubber against Pablo Lopez.