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.
An unexpected sweep of the defending champion Nationals notwithstanding, our Virtual Brewers still find themselves with quite a hole to dig out of after the season’s first month, sitting at 11-20, 9.5 games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central and in last place in the entire National League.
Speaking of those Cardinals, a series to start May gives the Brewers a chance to slowly start crawling back into things.
Friday, May 1st - Brewers 5, Cardinals 2
The season doesn’t officially start until Ryan Braun or Christian Yelich sparks a walkoff against St. Louis. It was Braun this time, crushing a fastball from John Brebbia for a walkoff GRAND SLAM in the series opener. Brebbia found himself on the mound when Cards closer Giovanny Gallegos loaded the bases while trying to hang onto a 2-1 lead, thanks to a hit and two walks — the second of which was drawn by Yelich to bring Braun to the plate. Yelich also hit his 9th home run of the season earlier in the game, taking Jack Flaherty deep in the 4th to give the Brewers a 1-0 lead.
The newly-returned Jacob Barnes, claimed off waivers from the Angels last week, had a rough — although very Jacob Barnes-y — outing, striking out 2 batters but also giving up back-to-back solo home runs to Tyler O’Neill and Dexter Fowler to cough up the lead in the 8th inning. Luckily, Braun wouldn’t let the Brewers lose, instead extending the winning streak to 4 games.
Brett Anderson pitched admirably — or perhaps luckily — in his first start back since landing on the injured list with a herniated disk. He pitched into the 7th inning, holding the Cardinals scoreless while scattering 8 hits and 3 walks while facing the Cardinals’ ace.
Saturday, May 2nd - Cardinals 8, Brewers 6
The good feelings from the night before only last about an inning, before Josh Lindblom was chased in the 2nd inning after giving up 5 runs in the inning. Dakota Hudson held the Brewers to 2 runs over 6 innings on the other side, improving to 5-0 on the year.
The fateful 2nd inning was a classic case of Cardinals Devil Magic/Bovine Excrement — after getting Brad Miller to ground out to lead off the inning, Lindblom surrendered back-to-back singles to Paul DeJong and Harrison Bader. Tommy Edman followed with the Cardinals’ third consecutive hit, a double that drove in DeJong. After pitching around Yadier Molina to load the bases, Lindblom proceeded to walk the pitcher to force in a run. A Kolten Wong RBI single followed that, before another bases-loaded walk to force in a run, this time against Matt Carpenter. That brought up Brewer Killer Paul Goldschmidt with the bases loaded, and he nearly hit a grand slam, instead flying out to Lorenzo Cain on the warning track to drive in the Cardinals’ 5th run of the inning on a sac fly. That was enough for Craig Counsell to pull his struggling starter.
The bullpen pitched relatively well the rest of the way, allowing just 3 runs over 7.1 innings, but the 2nd inning was just too much to overcome. Lindblom saw his ERA balloon to 5.68 after the disastrous start.
Sunday, May 3rd - Brewers 3, Cardinals 2
Brandon Woodruff may be turning things around. After 7 shutout innings against the Nationals in his last start, Woodruff followed up that effort by holding the Cardinals to 1 earned run over 5.2 innings, helping the Brewers grab their second series win against the division-leading Cardinals in as many tries. The Brewers are now 4-2 against the Cardinals on the year — and 9-19 against everyone else.
Keston Hiura gave the Brewers a lift early, connecting on his 6th home run of the year with a 2-run shot off of Adam Wainwright in the first inning. Avisail Garcia would give the Brewers the deciding run with a solo home run off of Wainwright to lead off the 3rd inning, his 5th homer of the year.
Monday, May 4th - Brewers 5, Marlins 3
After appearing in a predictable and cheesy “May the 4th” video that was posted online earlier in the day, Brent Suter held the Marlins to 3 runs on 8 hits over 5.2 innings in a solid start. It would take another late rally for the Brewers to walk away with the win, though, scoring 3 times in the top of the 9th against old friend Brandon Kintzler, who’s been serving as Miami’s closer (to poor results — while it was his first blown save of the year, the 3 earned runs put his season ERA at 6.43). Josh Hader pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the 9th for his 5th save.
It was some great baserunning by Luis Urias that sparked the 9th inning comeback. After getting on base with a one-out single, Urias went first-to-third on a single to right field by Eric Sogard. That set things up for Omar Narvaez, who once again came up clutch in the 9th inning, crushing a double into deep centerfield, over the head of old friend Monte Harrison. That double pushed Narvaez’s line to .409/.519/.682 with 3 doulbes, a home run and 9 RBI in 27 “close and late” plate appearances.
Brock Holt followed with a double of his own, a 108.1 mph screamer down the left field line to drive in Sogard and Narvaez, giving the Brewers the lead.
In other good news, Corey Knebel was cleared to begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A San Antonio, eyeing a return to the Brewers’ bullpen sometime in the next couple weeks.
Tuesday, May 5th - Brewers 8, Marlins 5
The Brewers were held scoreless through the first 6 innings of this game, appearing to struggle with the large dimensions at Marlins Park, before exploding for 7 runs in the 7th inning to walk away with their third straight win.
The “they rely too much on home runs” crowd was noticeably silent during that big 7th inning, as the Brewers did it all without a single longball. Instead, it was good baserunning and timely hitting.
Christian Yelich went first-to-third on a single by Narvaez. Luis Urias scored from first on a bases-clearing double by Eric Sogard. Sogard then scored from second on a single by Brock Holt. Lorenzo Cain singled, then scored from first on a 2-RBI double by Avisail Garcia, who took third base on the throw. Keston Hiura capped it all off by not trying to do too much with a 2-2 pitch, hitting a sacrifice fly to center to drive in Garcia.
Bill Schroeder couldn’t contain his excitement in the broadcast booth with all of the professional hitting that inning.
Wednesday, May 6th - Brewers 9, Marlins 3
This game was tied at 3 until yet another big 7th inning rally by the Brewers. Again, it was done almost entirely with singles. Manny Pina’s RBI single broke the tie, but the Brewers kept it going after that — Ryan Braun added another run with a first-pitch sac fly, Pina scored from second on a single by Avi Garcia, Christian Yelich drew a bases-loaded walk to drive in another, and a Luis Urias single added the final 2 runs as the Brewers batted around in the inning.
Yelich got the game off to a good start for the Brewers with a 3-run home run against his old team in the first inning, his 10th of the year, tying him for 5th most in the National League.
In other baseball news, Max Scherzer made headlines by striking out 17 batters in a complete game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, allowing only a solo home run in the 8th inning to Christian Walker.
Thursday, May 7th - Brewers 4, Marlins 2 (10 innings)
The Brewers finish up a 4-game sweep of Miami, but it almost didn’t happen.
After the best start of Josh Lindbolm’s career — 8 shutout innings, allowing just 5 hits while striking out 5 and throwing just 95 pitches — Josh Hader was unable to pick up the save, giving up 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th before getting bailed out by Freddy Peralta.
Luckily, the Brewers were able to bounce back with back-to-back RBI doubles by Ryan Braun and Luis Urias to regain the lead in the top of the 10th and Peralta was able to pitch a 1-2-3 bottom half of the 10th to pick up the win.
It was the Brewers’ 5th win in a row and their 9th in 10 games, dramatically shifting the perception of their season in just a couple weeks’ time. The downside — the Cardinals rebounded after losing the series to the Brewers, so the local nine are still 8 GB in the division race after only picking up 1.5 games despite the hot week. They did move up to 3rd in the division, though, and are now only 3 GB of the NL’s 2nd wildcard spot.
Record over the last week: 6-1
Overall record: 17-21
Standings: 3rd place, 8 GB in NL Central, 3 GB in NL Wildcard
Hitting Storyline of the Week: After finishing April with one of the worst offenses in baseball, the Brewers started hitting the cover off the ball — and they were doing it as a team. While the home run numbers dipped with a 4-game set in the power-sapping environment of Miami, the Brewers used the large gaps to rack up big hit totals and improve their team batting average and on-base percentage several spots in the league rankings. The overall numbers still aren’t pretty, but there are signs of life — and signs this team’s more contact-minded approach are starting to bear fruit.
Pitching Storyline of the Week: Brett Anderson, predictably, hasn’t been anything special in the Brewers’ rotation, but he’s somehow been able to miss barrels just enough to put together some effective starts. His return from the Injured List allowed Corbin Burnes to shift back to the bullpen full-time — where he’s pitched well so far this year — and he pitched well enough for the Brewers to pick up a pair of wins in his two starts this past week. Anderson is also keeping the ball down, forcing the Cardinals to hit 10 ground balls in his first start back and inducing 7 grounders against the Marlins.
Next week: 3 vs. ARI (5/8, 5/9, 5/10), 3 @ CHC (5/11, 5/12, 5/13)