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.
Our Sim Brewers got off to a good start with series wins over the Cubs and Cardinals in the season’s first week, but their first road trip of 2020 proved to be disastrous.
Thursday, April 2nd - Phillies 7, Brewers 5 (10 innings)
There were plenty of offensive fireworks in the Phillies’ hitter-friendly stadium, with the two teams hitting a combined 6 home runs. Four of those came from Brewers bats, including the first homers of the year for Manny Pina and Brock Holt. Avisail Garcia hit his 2nd homer of the young season, while Christian Yelich teed off on his 3rd in 7 games.
Unfortunately, it was the Phillies with the home run that mattered, though — Jay Bruce once again haunted the Brewers (even in virtual form) with a two-run blast in the bottom of the 10th inning off Ray Black to send the Philly faithful home happy. All five of the Brewers’ runs came as a result of home runs, leading to the first “are the Brewers too reliant on the home run?” debate on sports talk radio the next morning. Even though, you know, the Phillies won because of a home run.
Saturday, April 4th - Phillies 9, Brewers 3
After an incredible first start as a Brewer that saw him pitch into the 8th inning, reality set in for Brett Anderson on this night. Anderson gave up 4 runs on 8 hits — including 3 home runs — in just 4 innings of work before leaving with an undisclosed injury. Rhys Hoskins had one of those home runs (Jean Segura and Bryce Harper had the others) as part of a 4-for-4 day. Any hopes of another Brewers comeback was put to bed with a disastrous outing by Alex Claudio, who was charged with 3 earned runs on 3 hits while only recording two outs as part of a 5-run Philadelphia 6th inning.
Offensive highlights were hard to come by for the Brewers, despite 9 hits, but Avi Garcia did hit his 3rd home run of the season and Eric Sogard continue his hot hitting to start the year with his 2nd round-tripper. Sogard went 2-for-4 and is hitting .308 in his first 6 games, while Omar Narvaez also kept up his early-season hitting binge (.429 in his first 6 games) by also going 2-for-4.
Sunday, April 5th - Phillies 6, Brewers 5
The Brewers suffer their first sweep of the season in a gutpunch of a loss in the bottom of the 9th inning.
The bullpen was asked to do much of the heavy lifting after Josh Lindblom was only able to get through 4.1 innings on 91 pitches, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits. Unfortunately, it cracked under that pressure, blowing leads in the bottom of the 7th and the bottom of the 9th.
The Brewers were holding a 3-2 lead after Yelich put them up with an RBI single in the top half of the fateful 7th, but David Phelps loaded the bases in the bottom half thanks to a single sandwiched by two walks before being pulled with one out. Needing a strikeout, Craig Counsell went to J.P. Feyereisen — who proceeded to walk Jay Bruce on 5 pitches after falling behind 3-0 to force home the tying run. It would get worse, as Feyereisen also walked in runs against J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorious as Devin Williams frantically tried to get warm. Williams was able to get the final two outs of the inning without further damage, but the Brewers were left trailing, 5-3.
As they have multiple times already this year, though, the Brewers cooked up some magic in the 9th inning, when Narvaez crushed the first pitch he saw from Ranger Suarez for a 2 out, 2-RBI double...only to get thrown out at third base with two outs when he would have represented the tying run.
More ineptitude from the bullpen would make sure Narvaez wouldn’t be the only goat. Bruce once again proved to be a pain, hitting a leadoff double off of Alex Claudio. That prompted an intentional walk to Realmuto to create a forceout situation, but Didi Gregorious also walked to load the bases. Desperate to get the game into extra innings, Counsell turned to Josh Hader, who was able to strike out Odubel Herrera for the second out, but saw his nightmare start of the season continue with a walkoff walk on a 3-2 pitch to Deivy Grullon.
Sports talk radio grumbles that David Stearns should have traded Hader to the Yankees in the offseason as the Brewers fall to 4-5.
Monday, April 6th - Reds 3, Brewers 0
Brewers Twitter melts down and the general online discourse around the team quickly becomes toxic as Wade Miley throws a complete game shutout against his old team, allowing just 4 hits and a walk while striking out 7.
Freddy Peralta throws well on the other side, striking out 8 over 6 innings, but his One Bad Inning of allowing 3 runs in the bottom of the 3rd proved to be the Brewers’ undoing. Nick Senzel had the big blow in that inning with a 2-run double, and later scored on a 2-out single by Nick Castellanos.
The loss is the Brewers’ 5th straight, and the team got more bad news after the game when it was announced Brett Anderson suffered a herniated disc in his injury-shortened start in Philadelphia, and Ray Black tore his labrum. Anderson will miss at least two weeks, while Black’s injury may keep him out for a full year, but realistically may end his time in Milwaukee altogether — meaning the Brewers ended up getting a handful of innings from Black and Drew Pomeranz for Mauricio Dubon.
Eric Lauer and Justin Grimm were called up to replace Anderson and Black on the active roster.
Tuesday, April 7th - Reds 6, Brewers 2
The Brewers’ losing streak hits 6 games after the Reds score 5 runs between the 7th and 8th innings to steal the game away. Sonny Gray held the Brewers to 1 run over 6 innings. The big blow came when Eugenio Suarez hit a 3-run bomb off the just-promoted Grimm with 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th inning to essentially put the game out of reach. All three runs were unearned after an error by Eric Sogard kept the inning alive.
Lauer also made it into the game after being promoted the night before, giving up the go-ahead home run to Mike Moustakas in the bottom of the 7th.
Record in the last week: 0-5
Overall record: 4-7
Pitching storyline of the week: The bullpen was a question mark heading into the season, and it proved to be an unmitigated disaster on the road trip. It doesn’t help that Josh Hader still doesn’t seem to have a handle on his control — granted, he wasn’t afforded many opportunities to pitch given the fact the Brewers trailed late in nearly every game this week. Alex Claudio suffered a particularly brutal week and left-handers are now 4-for-9 with 2 walks against him for the year. It’s a tiny sample, but when you’re on the roster for one reason and it’s not getting done, you don’t have many chances left to prove yourself.
Hitting storyline of the week: Christian Yelich has turned it on after a quiet couple of series to start the 2020 season. He went 6-for-17 on the road trip, hitting 2 home runs and drawing 4 walks. Unfortunately, the run production behind him has struggled. Keston Hiura is hitting for power but not much else with a .244/.311/.512 line in the team’s first 11 games, and Justin Smoak is hitting a dreadful .094/.216/.313 by going 3-for-32 to start the year.
Next week: vs. New York (4/9, 4/10, 4/11, 4/12), vs. Philadelphia (4/13, 4/14, 4/15, 4/16)