The Brewers knew they had an opportunity to position themselves for the postseason in this series against the Pirates. With the Cubs and Cardinals playing, all they had to do is win and they would make up ground on someone. Not only did they take full advantage of that opportunity, they are now in a spot to get into the postseason in back-to-back years.
Brandon Woodruff started this one for the Brewers, with the intention of using the same piggyback strategy as in his last start. He was sharp again, pitching two perfect innings to lead off the game and added three strikeouts. He only threw 38 pitches, but it was likely the intention for him in this one.
Meanwhile, the Brewers offense started to bring in some runs to back him up. It began with Orlando Arcia, who sent a ball into the Brewers bullpen to give the Brewers a 1-0 lead.
Then, in the fourth inning, it was Eric Thames’ turn, as he sent one out himself to increase the lead to 2-0.
Thames wasn’t done there, though. In the sixth, with Keston Hiura on base, Thames did it again. He sent out another home run that just cleared the fence for his second home run of the day and 23rd on the season. He had a massive day, going 2-for-4 with two home runs and three runs driven in.
All of that helped back up a stellar day by most of the Brewers pitching staff. After Woodruff, Jay Jackson came in for an inning and struck out the side, needing just 11 pitches to get through the inning. Gio Gonzalez followed him and just continued to mow through the Pirates order. The Brewers, as a staff, ending up taking a perfect game into the seventh inning. It ended there, with a one-out single just getting past Orlando Arcia for the Pirates first hit of the day. That ended Gonzalez’s day, who filled in 3.1 innings with three strikeouts and just the one hit allowed.
Drew Pomeranz was the fourth pitcher in for the Brewers, finishing out the seventh inning. With help from an amazing catch by Orlando Arcia, the Brewers kept the Pirates off the board and had a 4-0 lead after seven innings. Freddy Peralta came in then for the eighth, and it started to unravel there. Peralta started off well enough, getting a strikeout and a groundout for the first two outs of the inning. However, Jacob Stallings and Erik Gonzalez each singled to put two runners on base, and then Melky Cabrera reached base on an error by Arcia to allow the first Pirates run to score.
Josh Hader then came in to try and lock down the game. It continued to go south as Cole Tucker singled to drive in the two baserunners, and the Brewers lead was down to 4-3. All three runs were charged to Peralta, but all were unearned due to the error. Hader wouldn’t give the Pirates anything else, though. He got a groundout from Bryan Reynolds to end the eighth. Then, in the ninth, he was just dominant, striking out the side to preserve the Brewers 4-3 win.
In the Wild Card race, the Nationals lost to the Marlins 5-3, so the Brewers officially move into a virtual tie with the Nationals. The Nationals technically have the lead by percentage points, but will play twice against the Phillies before the Brewers next game. Also, down in Chicago, the Cardinals took the lead over the Cubs in the ninth. Yu Darvish pitched into the ninth, but didn’t get an out in the inning as the Cardinals scored twice to take a 3-2 lead, and they would win by that margin. While this does make getting back into the division race extremely tough, it also allowed the Brewers to take a four-game advantage over the Cubs and nearly decide the playoff race.
The win puts the Brewers right on the edge of clinching a playoff spot, and that could happen as soon as Wednesday. Today’s game ended a stretch of 18 games in a row, and the Brewers went 15-3 in those 18 games. On September 5th, the first game of their 18 games in a row (where they lost to the Cubs) they were 71-68, 7.5 games back in the division and 5 games back in the Wild Card race. Now, they have a four game Wild Card lead, a swing of 9 games in the Brewers favor. They also still have an outside chance at the division, though they would need the Cardinals to cool off for that to happen.
The Brewers have a much needed day off tomorrow before heading to Cincinnati to start a three-game series there. Adrian Houser and Sonny Gray are scheduled to start the opener of that series on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 5:40 pm.