WP: Brent Suter (2-0)
LP: Sonny Gray (3-1)
HR: MIL - Christian Yelich (4), Keston Hiura (3); CIN - Jesse Winker (1)
After largely being embarrassed by Cincinnati Reds pitching in the first two games of their weekend series at Miller Park, the Milwaukee Brewers broke out in a big way to avoid a sweep Sunday, beating the Reds, 9-3.
This was expected to be a pitchers’ duel between Brandon Woodruff and Sonny Gray, but both struggled with efficiency in the August heat. Cincinnati got on the board first as Woodruff slogged through a 30-pitch first inning that saw him walk two batters before lefty-swinging Jesse Winker beat the shift with an RBI single to the left side, giving the Reds a 1-0 lead.
Gray would also walk two batters in the first inning, but was able to get out of the inning without any runs scoring as the Brewers continued to struggle to hit with men on base. Milwaukee wouldn’t get their first hit until there were 2 outs in the 3rd inning, when Keston Hiura was able to sneak a single through the middle of the infield.
It turns out that may have been the first signs of the Brewers’ bats waking up. Christian Yelich, who had been struggling with pitches inside during his slump to start the year, was able to get around on a fastball up and in from Gray and rip it into the right field corner. Hiura was able to score from first with 2 outs, and Yelich wound up at third on the RBI triple to tie the game.
Things wouldn’t stay tied for long, though, as Winker — who came into the game historically hitting Woodruff well — led off the top of the 4th inning with a long home run into the Toyota Territory to put the Reds back up, 2-1.
It looked like the Brewers would respond when they loaded the bases in the bottom half of the 4th against Gray, but Eric Sogard grounded out on the first pitch he saw that ended the rally and felt like a possible turning point in the game.
Luckily, it ended up not mattering.
Gray worked through a quick 5th inning before the Brewers finally got to him in the 6th. Justin Smoak ripped the first pitch of the inning for a double, and Mark Mathias followed with a single that put runners on 1st and 3rd. Mathias stole second without a throw before Manny Pina tied the game — and chased Gray from it — with an RBI single up the middle.
The Reds’ bullpen has been their Achilles heel so far this season, and we saw why when Michael Lorenzen came on in relief of Gray. Lorenzen would walk Sogard on 4 pitches to load the bases, give up an RBI single to Hiura, then walked in back-to-back runs against Christian Yelich and Logan Morrison. By that point, Reds manager David Bell had seen enough, and Lorenzen was seen screaming something (most likely “FUN,” based on our analysis) into his glove as he left the field with the Reds trailing, 5-2.
Cody Reed relieved Lorenzen and was able to get Avisail Garcia to ground out to home to keep another run from scoring, but Smoak capped off the inning with a 2-RBI single to push the Brewers lead to 7-2 as they batted around in the 6th.
The Brewers would add 2 more runs in the bottom of the 8th with more signs that struggling bats may be waking up — Hiura homered to center for his third hit of the game, and Yelich followed with an absolute bomb off the Miller Lite sign on the scoreboard — a very encouraging sign considering he had seemed to be late on everything. The pair of homers pushed Milwaukee’s lead to 9-2.
The Reds would pick up a run in the top of the 9th after Winker picked up his third hit of the game on a leadoff double against Alex Claudio. Freddy Galvis drove him in with a 2-out RBI single. Claudio then walke Philip Ervin and hit Shogo Akiyama with a pitch to load the bases for Nick Castellanos, forcing Craig Counsell to warm up Josh Hader with 2 outs and a 6-run lead. Claudio was able to get Castellanos to ground out to end the game.
The Brewers welcome the red-hot Minnesota Twins to Miller Park next starting tomorrow night.