It was only a six-inning game that didn’t mean much of anything (other than implications for the prestigious Cactus Cup), but it was nice to see baseball again — especially when the Brewers ended up with more runs than the other team.
Launching several home runs Sunday afternoon, the Brewers came away with a 7-2 win over the Chicago White Sox, even with stars like Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain not making the trip for the first spring game of the year.
Keston Hiura did make the trip, though, and started the spring with a bang in the third spot of the order. After the newly-trim Avisail Garcia started the game with a leadoff walk and Omar Narvaez blooped an opposite-field single, Hiura blasted a moonshot of a home run through the wind to give the Brewers an early 3-0 lead.
It was an early sign the ball was going to be carrying. Eric Lauer surrendered a two-run homer to Adam Engel in the bottom half of the inning that cut the Brewers lead to 3-2. It was a rough initial outing for Lauer, who is likely just trying to get a feel for all of his pitches this early in camp, but is also trying to work his way into the conversation for the back end of the rotation.
Justin Topa was second on the mound for the Brewers, taking over for Lauer after the rocky first inning. After flashing a nasty breaking pitch that was a reminder that he may be a significant factor in the Brewers’ bullpen this year, Topa also got some defensive help in the form of Avi Garcia’s strong arm in right field (and Danny Mendick stumbling a bit around second base).
The highlights wouldn’t stop there for Avi, as he and Tyrone Taylor would both hit solo home runs in the top of the 4th, with Garcia’s being a tapemeasure shot over the batter’s eye in dead center field to give the Brewers a 5-2 lead.
With both teams agreeing to only go 6 innings today, most of the excitement was largely done after that, although the Brewers did send out pitching prospects Ethan Small and Aaron Ashby to cover the last couple innings with some impressive results — Small worked a 1-2-3 inning that included getting batting champion Tim Anderson to ground out back to the mound and getting Yoan Moncada to fly out to end the inning, while Ashby picked up a strikeout on an absolutely nasty breaking pitch in the dirt.
The last bit of Brewers offense came in between those outings, with post-hype prospect and non-roster invite Dylan Cozens flashing the power that makes him an exciting lottery ticket on a two-run home run to cap the scoring for the afternoon.
The Brewers will be back at it tomorrow with Corbin Burnes starting in a road contest against the Arizona Diamondbacks.