For the last several years, the chorus among fans and analysts around Milwaukee alike has been “this team NEEDS TO ACQUIRE AN ACE!!!” As it turns out, maybe that guy is...Jordan Lyles?
The rental starter made his ninth start of the 2019 season with the Brewers tonight against the St. Louis Cardinals, and he ran into some trouble in the second inning. Lyles allowed a solo home run to Tommy Edman to start the scoring, and after that a single to Harrison Bader. He advanced to second on a bunt by opposing pitcher Jack Flaherty, then while he was stealing third base, Yasmani Grandal threw wildly into left field and allowed Bader to motor around and score the Cardinals’ second run of the game.
And that would be it against ol’ Ace Lyles. He wound up navigating six innings, becoming the first starter to complete six innings in a game for the Brewers since September 3rd. It was also Lyles that day, against the Astros. Tonight he allowed six hits and walked zero, punching out four. Only one of the runs against him was earned, lowering his ERA to 2.39 in nine starts and 49.0 innings since getting traded over from Pittsburgh. There’s no way they let this guy walk again, right?
Jack Flaherty has been pitching like a legitimate ace for the Cardinals since the beginning of July. He entered this game with a 2.99 ERA on the season and a 0.76 ERA since the All-Star break, but the Brewers have had his number this year. In fact, the only game during which he’s allowed at three runs or more since the start of July was against Milwaukee. Once again, the Brewers were able to touch him up a bit again tonight. The offense evened things out in the fourth inning, with Trent Grisham getting things started with a leadoff single. After a Grandal groundout, Mike Moustakas launched his 34th home run on the season to tie things up at two apiece. There’s no way they let his guy walk, right?
The Brewers pulled ahead against Flaherty in the sixth inning. Yaz drew a one-out walk and Mike Moustakas followed with a single. Ryan Braun came next and walked to load the bases. Some small ball ensued as Eric Thames put one in play on the ground to short. Braun was thrown out at second as Grandal crossed the plate for the go-ahead run, Thames’ 56th RBI on the season.
Jay Jackson got the first two outs of the seventh inning and Drew Pomeranz struck out Matt Carpenter to end that frame. Milwaukee added two big insurance runs in the top of the eighth inning. Grisham walked — his third time on base in five plate apppearances — to lead things off against Tyler Webb. Grandal was the next batter and atoned for his earlier misplay with a long home run to center field to push the advantage to three runs at 5-2. Yaz’s 27th dinger ties his previous career-high, set in 2016. His 73 runs batted in also represents a new career-best across a single season. There’s no way they let this guy walk, right?
Pomeranz got a strikeout for the first out of the eighth but then allowed a single to Kolten Wong before making way for Junior Guerra. Our Hero recorded the final two outs of the eighth on a couple of fly outs and passed the torch off to Josh Hader for the ninth. He struck out one in a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 32nd save of the season, locking up the 5-2 victory.
This triumph pushed the Menomonee Valley Nine up to 79-69 on the season. The Cubs also won earlier today, once again defeating the suddenly hapless Pirates, so the Brewers still trail by one game in the race for the second Wild Card spot. St. Louis is three games up on Chicago and four games ahead of Milwaukee for the lead in the NL Central. Tomorrow’s series finale at new Busch Stadium will pit Chase Anderson against Michael Wacha, with first pitch scheduled for 1:15 pm Central.