There’s a very real possibility these are the last games Ryan Braun is playing at Miller Park.
If that’s the case, it’s only fitting he’s going out with another big home run in September.
A day after having to leave a game due to his bad back acting up, Braun returned to the lineup to DH Saturday night and delivered yet another big moment in the season’s final month, hitting a low breaking ball out for a big 3-run home run to give the Brewers some much-needed breathing room in the bottom of the 8th inning.
It’s Braun’s third home run in the last 4 games, and helped the Brewers breathe easier in the 9th inning (and sit down Josh Hader, who had been warming) as they improved to 25-26 with a 5-0 win over Kansas City.
Up to that point, the Brewers’ offense failed to do much of anything. Top-100 prospect Kris Bubic held the Brewers to 1 hit over his 5.1 innings, although he did walk 4 batters. The Brewers didn’t get their second hit until Orlando Arcia led off the 8th inning with a single.
Before that big inning, the lone Brewers run came in the bottom of the 3rd on a pretty bizarre play. After Luis Urias and Jacob Nottingham drew back-to-back walks, Avisail Garcia rolled what looked to be a double play ball up the middle — except the Royals’ two middle infielders, Nicky Lopez and Adalberto Mondesi, both ran to second base and collided, before Lopez uncorked a wild throw past first base that allowed Urias to come all the way around to score.
Luckily, that one run would have held up, because Corbin Burnes was excellent once again on the mound. While the Royals were able to drive his pitch count up with some long at-bats in the 5th and 6th innings, Burnes still threw 6 shutout innings, allowing just 4 hits — and only one baserunner past first base — while walking none and striking out 9. Of his 100 pitches, exactly half were cutters, which he used nearly flawlessly.
Corbin Burnes's Cutter is one of the Filthiest Pitches in Baseball. pic.twitter.com/sB0xq4FQnD— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 19, 2020
Burnes has now given up 1 earned run over 23.2 innings in September. He once again avoided hard contact, and only gave up 3 fly balls in the 22 batters he faced. His ERA for the season is down to 1.77.
Devin Williams followed Burnes with 2 perfect innings, striking out 4 batters and mowing through those 6 batters in just 23 pitches, 16 of which were for strikes. Somehow, his K/9 got even higher after tonight.
Devin Williams, 97mph Fastball (Swing/Miss) and 85mph Airbender (Swinging K), Overlay pic.twitter.com/6dkz5b5M2W— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 20, 2020
Devin Williams has now struck out 47 of the 87 batters he’s faced this season.— Brewers prospects and more (@BrewCrewBlue) September 20, 2020
Josh Hader was warming as the Brewers hit in the bottom of the 8th inning, but Nottingham came through with another big hit with an RBI double to give the Brewers an insurance run before Braun’s home run sat Hader down in favor of Drew Rasmussen, who finished things with 2 more strikeouts in a perfect 9th.
Overall, Brewers pitching ended this game with 15 strikeouts and zero walks.
The Cincinnati Reds lost at home to the Chicago White Sox, meaning the Brewers and Reds are now tied for 3rd place in the NL Central, just a game behind the Cardinals for 2nd place and a playoff spot. A loss by the San Francisco Giants earlier in the day means there’s also now virtually a three-way tie for the 8th seed in the NL.
The Brewers will go for a sweep of Kansas City Sunday afternoon before embarking on their season-deciding 8-game road trip through Cincinnati and St. Louis to close the regular season.
Buckle up. Craigtember is here.