Opening Day Magic was in full effect for the Brewers in today’s home opener against the Minnesota Twins. Down 5-2 with one out in the ninth inning, the Crew enjoyed a dramatic 6-5 come-from-behind victory over Minnesota.
Redemption was the name of the game in this win. Christian Yelich resembled his 2018-2019 self. Josh Hader’s fastball hit triple digits. Omar Narváez compensated for some defensive blunders with clutch offensive moments. Travis Shaw drove in the runs that sent the game into extra innings. Orlando Arcia drove in the winning run on his first Opening Day bench appearance since 2016. Lorenzo Cain scored the winning run looking quite smart in a ball-in-glove mask. And, of course, well-spaced fans returned to a familiar ballpark with a new name to fuel the win.
To open the game, Luis Urías wasted no time at all making a highlight-reel play at his hard-earned start at shortstop. He began the contest with an amazing, ranging, diving, somersaulting grab to steal extra bases from the Twins’ Luis Arráez and keep runs off the board in the first.
Jorge Polanco was the second out of the inning Woodruff’s first strikeout of the season. He whiffed on a 98 mph four-seam fastball. Woodruff’s velocity was pushing the upper 90s in the early innings, likely feeling the energy of 12,000 fans who, by in-person accounts, sounded like a capacity crowd.
The Crew went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first. Kolten Wong struck out on a foul tip, Hiura struck out looking on a pitch-to-hit from Kenta Maeda. Christian Yelich was robbed of a hit by a diving Jorge Polanco.
Woodruff looked sharp in the second inning, striking out Byron Buxton and Mitch Garver before giving up a single to Andrelton Simmons. Kolten Wong ranged over for a slick-fielding play but was just a little too late on the throw to get Simmons. The next batter, Kenta Maeda, popped out to Wong to end the inning.
Avisaíl García got the first hit of the season to lead off the second inning:
The Brewers had a threat going when Travis Shaw followed up with another single with nobody out, but Lorenzo Cain, Omar Narváez, and Luis Urías popped or flew out in back-to-back-to-back fashion to end the inning.
The top of the third began with Kolten Wong’s sound fielding retiring 2 of the first three batters, but things got a little hairy for Woodruff and the Crew after that. Miguel Sanó single to the right-center gap to advance Jake Cave, who previously reached on a walk, to third. The Twins had runners at the corners when Woodruff threw a change-up in the dirt in front of home plate and off of Omar Narváez’s glove. Cave scored easily, and Sanó advanced to second to put Minnesota up 1-0. Max Kepler singled off the tip of his bat into the gap in center to score Sanó. Bryon Buxton swung through on a Woodruff slider inside to end the inning, but not before the Twins scored two runs on two hits.
The Brewers got together a little response to this Twins rally in the bottom of the third. Kolten Wong ripped a one-out single down the right-field line for his first hit official hit as a Brewer. Yelich was hit by a pitch to advance Wong to second with two outs. Next, Avisaíl García hit a little chopper towards third. Arráez bobbled it, allowing García first and loading the bases for Travis Shaw. Maeda and Shaw got into a tense full count battle before Maeda finally walked Shaw on the eighth-pitch of the at-bat to send in a run. It was an unusual high-stakes walk for Maeda, who only walked ten batters in 2020. Unfortunately, Lorenzo Cain grounded out to end the inning before the Brewers could tack on more runs.
The Twins assembled another run in the fourth. Woodruff started the inning, striking out Mitch Garver on three consecutive called strikes. Lorenzo Cain just missed an Andrelton Simmons bloop single to center, and Maeda sac bunted to advance Simmons to second. Luis Arráez poked another single into center field to drive in Andrelton Simmons before Jake Cave grounded out to end the inning. It would be Woodruff’s last pitch on an embattled but relatively damage-controlled opening day start.
Billy McKinney came in as a pinch hitter with two outs in the fourth inning to signal the end of Woodruff’s day. McKinney hit a single to the gap in center for his first official hit as a Brewer. Kolten Wong, representing the tying run, drew a walk. Keston Hiura came to the plate in a high-leverage situation, chased a high fastball to strikeout to end the inning and the threat.
Freddy Peralta came on to replace Brandon Woodruff in the top of the fifth. Peralta is still fifth in the rotation but was available today since he isn’t scheduled to start until Tuesday. Peralta was dominant over two innings. He struck out two to open the fifth, throwing a healthy mix of curveballs and fastballs ranging from the mid to upper 90s. Peralta allowed a triple but left the inning scoreless and with three strikeouts. He threw a similar mix of pitches in the sixth, allowed a walk, and struck out three more batters to strike out six batters across two innings.
The Brewers started a threat but also a major skid in the bottom of the fifth. Christian Yelich got a leadoff hit and his first hit of the year. Travis Shaw reached and advanced Christian Yelich on a soft single towards first. It should have been a forceout to get Yelich and could have been a double play, but Andrelton Simmons bobbled the throw to second. Lorenzo Cain lined a single to center to load the bases with only one out. Omar Narváez singled to left to drive in Yelich. Third base coach Jason Lane waived Shaw home, which was ill-advised. The throw to get Shaw out at home was perfect, but it also beat Shaw by about 25 feet. Dan Vogelbach came to the plate with runners at first and second but grounded right into the shift to end the inning. Vogelbach was the first of eleven Brewers who would retire in order, beginning a drought that would last until the ninth inning when Kolten Wong reached after getting hit by a pitch.
Eric Yardley opened the seventh inning giving up a double to Max Kepler and a homerun to Byron Buxton. He got out of the inning after inducing some groundouts and playable line drives, but the Twins tacked on two more for the 5-2 lead over the Brewers.
Eric Yardley faced 97 batters last season and surrendered two home runs. He just gave up a two-run shot to the second batter he faced in 2021, Byron Buxton. 5-2 Twins.— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) April 1, 2021
Wisconsinite J.P. Feyereisen looked sharp in the eighth. He allowed a walk to open the inning but induced a soft back up the middle groundout to retire Jorge Polanco and struck out two batters, including Miguel Sanó, to end the inning. Josh Lindblom was solid in the top of the ninth, prompting a couple of flyouts and getting Andrelton Simmons swinging on a splitter to end the inning.
Keston Hiura came to the plate in the ninth with one out. He was 0-4 after a day of chasing much-too high fastballs, and watching strikes go by him. Kolten Wong was on first after being hit by a pitch. Hiura hit a soft grounder back to the Twins pitcher Alex Colomé. Colomé went to second instead of getting the easy out at first, threw high, and left Wong safe at second(!) The error brought Christian Yelich to the plate with one out. Yelich smoked a Uecker homerun call-inducing RBI single to right. The knock scored Kolten Wong, advanced Hiura to second, and brought the Brewers within two runs of the tie.
Avisaíl García grounded out but advanced Hiura to third and Yelich to second. This brought Travis Shaw to the plate and set up the perfect redemption narrative for The Mayor. Shaw doubled on a sharp line drive to right-center to score Hiura and Yelich, and 12,000 well-spaced people sounded like 40,000.
The game was tied 5-5 when Lorenzo Cain grounded out to send the Brewers into extra innings. Josh Hader struck out the side in the top of the tenth. His fastball reached triple-digits and averaged 98+ mph.
Cain reappeared as the runner on second to start the tenth. Omar Narváez singled to right, recovering from a defensive blunder in the top of the tenth and advancing Lorenzo Cain to third. Orlando Arcia came to the plate off the bench. It was the first Opening Day he did not get the start at shortstop since 2017. Arcia swung at the first pitch that came his way, a 90 mph sinker, and chopped it to the infield grass. The hit had just enough zip to give Lorenzo Cain time to bolt 90 feet, slide headfirst into home, beat the tag, and score the winning run.
Baseball, dear Brewers fans, is back.
The Crew takes on the Twins in the second game of the series Friday, April 3 at 6:10 CT at American Family Field.