We may be without baseball on TV right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t play the Brewers’ 50th anniversary season anyway. Thanks to Out of the Park Baseball 21 — the latest installment of the best baseball sim out there — we’ll be bringing you the “results” of the last week of Brewers games every Thursday. Here’s how the first week of the 2020 season played out.
Thursday, March 26th - Brewers 6, Cubs 4
Things got off to a rough start on Opening Day, with Brandon Woodruff allowing the first four batters to reach, including back-to-back home runs — a 3-run bomb by Anthony Rizzo on an 0-2 count, followed by a solo shot by Javier Baez, who was sitting on a fastball on a 3-1 count.
The Brewers fought back in the bottom of the 3rd, though, with cleanup man Keston Hiura coming through with a 2-out, 2-RBI triple into the left-centerfield gap to drive in Brock Holt and Christian Yelich, cutting the Cubs’ lead to 4-2. Omar Narvaez followed with an RBI single that got past Ian Happ at second base to cut the deficit to one.
The Brewers caught a break in the next inning, when Yu Darvish threw wide of first base on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Brent Suter, allowing Justin Smoak to get all the way to third while Suter ended up at second base. A walk to Lorenzo Cain loaded the bases for Holt, who tied the game on an RBI groundout, with Cain breaking up the double play. That gave Yelich an opportunity to deliver the go-ahead run — which he did, singling to right to give the Brewers a 5-4 advantage.
The final run came in the 7th inning, when Hiura delivered his second triple — tying the Brewers’ team record for triples in a single game — and Narvaez again drove him in.
The Cubs threatened in the 8th inning, putting two men on with nobody out, but Devin Williams struck out the side to end the rally, and Josh Hader picked up the save to seal it.
Saturday, March 28th - Brewers 5, Cubs 3
The Brewers scored 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st inning — thanks again to back-to-back run-scoring hits from Hiura (an RBI double) and Narvaez (an RBI single) — and Adrian Houser pitched into the 8th inning as the Brewers moved to 2-0 on the season. Ray Black picked up the final out of the game for the save after Hader struggled in his second straight day of work, allowing a leadoff home run to Baez and issuing a two-out walk to Jason Heyward.
Sunday, March 29th - Cubs 5, Brewers 2
Death, taxes and Jose Quintana shutting down the Brewers. The left-handed kryptonite held the Brewers to a single run over 6 innings, scattering 6 hits and 3 walks while striking out 7. The loss came after a pitching decision came back to bite Craig Counsell for the first time this season, when he permitted Brett Anderson to pitch into the 8th inning.
Anderson allowed a leadoff single to Baez before being lifted in favor of Devin Williams, who proceeded to walk the bases loaded — and then walk in the go-ahead run. Counsell then turned to Alex Claudio, who allowed an RBI single to the left-handed hitting Heyward and a sacrifice fly by Victor Caratini. It was a tough inning to watch — especially on national TV on Sunday Night Baseball — and led to a lot of second-guessing on sports talk radio the next morning.
Monday, March 30th - Brewers 8, Cardinals 3
Jedd Gyorko made his former team pay, hitting 2 home runs, but it was Christian Yelich showing signs of shaking off the early-season rust following last year’s injury and delivering the go-ahead runs with his first homer of the season in the 5th inning. The Brewers ended up hanging 5 runs (4 earned) on Korean rookie Kwang-hyun Kim in his first career start while their own KBO import, Josh Lindblom fared much better, striking out 7 while only allowing 2 runs over 6 innings.
Tuesday, March 31st - Brewers 6, Cardinals 4 (14 innings)
The Cream City Crushers continued their early-season power surge with 4 home runs, including the game-winner by Eric Sogard to end the marathon game at the 5-hour mark with 2 outs in the bottom of the 14th. It took a couple of late rallies to get to that point, though, with a Lorenzo Cain homer in the 8th inning — his second of the game — and a Justin Smoak RBI double in the bottom of the 9th needed to send the game into extra innings. Smoak’s clutch hitting also bailed Josh Hader out of his first possible loss of the season after another rocky outing that saw him hit Yadier Molina with a pitch, then letting Molina score on a wild pitch to Paul Goldschmidt.
Wednesday, April 1st - Cardinals 2, Brewers 1 (10 innings)
For the second straight day, 9 innings wasn’t enough to settle things between the two division rivals. This time, it was the Cardinals coming away with the win thanks in large part to the better outing in the battle of aces. Jack Flaherty threw 8 shutout innings, allowing only 3 singles and striking out 9 Brewers with no walks. Brandon Woodruff, meanwhile, held the Cardinals to a single run but only worked 5 innings in a day game after the Milwaukee bullpen was taxed in the 14-inning battle.
For the second straight day, the Brewers scored in the bottom of the 9th to send the game into extras, with singles by Brock Holt and Christian Yelich against Giovanny Gallegos setting up a 2-out, game-tying single by Omar Narvaez against Rob Kaminsky. Unfortunately, Hader again struggled, allowing a leadoff single to Kolton Wong and double to Tommy Edman. An intentional walk to Paul Goldschmidt set up the go-ahead sac fly by Austin Dean. Another potential two-out rally came up short in the bottom of the 10th, with Ben Gamel getting to third base as the tying run, but Brock Holt flew out to end the game.
Record in the last week: 4-2
Overall record: 4-2
Pitching storyline of the week: The Brewers are off to a good start to their 2020 season, taking series from two of their biggest division rivals and NL Central contenders, despite Josh Hader struggling to find consistency early. It may be a small sample mixed with some bad luck, but through his first 4 appearances, Hader has allowed 3 runs on 4 hits in 3.1 innings. He has struck out 6 batters, so the strikeout stuff is still there, but he’s also walked 2.
Hitting storyline of the week: Christian Yelich is off to a bit of a slow start — at least for his standards — hitting .240/.321/.480 with 2 home runs, but the rest of the lineup has largely picked up the slack. That’s especially true of Omar Narvaez, who may be soothing some of the concerns about losing Yasmani Grandal by going 7-for-16 with 2 walks and 4 very big RBI.
Next week: @ Philadelphia (4/2, 4/4, 4/5), @ Cincinnati (4/6, 4/7)