A great debate can be had among fans of the Milwaukee Brewers these days — who is truly the team’s “ace” starting pitcher? Freddy Peralta has really come on strong this year, and of course Corbin Burnes is about to resume his historic run following a bout of COVID (after admittedly refusing the vaccination), but Brandon Woodruff has the longest track record of success atop the rotation and led the team in innings pitched last season before jumping out to an early lead again this year.
On Wednesday, Woodruff once again made his case as “ace.”
Woody didn’t allow his first hit until a Harrison Bader single in the sixth inning, but John Gant of the Cardinals matched him zero-for-zero until breaking through in the bottom half of the sixth. Gant plunked Lorenzo Cain to begin the inning, and then walked Daniel Vogelbach to put runners on first and second. He was then replaced by Genesis Cabrera, who allowed a deep fly ball off the bat of Travis Shaw. Bader tracked the ball down in center field but slipped on the warning track. He ended up catching the ball from his knees, but when he tried to relay it back in, he lost his handle and the ball scooted away, allowing Cain to come in from second to score and make it 1-0.
Woodruff finally blinked in the top of the eighth, serving up a first-pitch home run to Tyler O’Neill on a slider that tied things up at 1 apiece. Still, it ended up being a masterful start for Woody, who finished 7.2 innings on 98 pitches. He allowed just three hits, one walk, and the one earned run, while striking out 10. Devin Williams finished up the final out of the eighth, then the offense went to work against Ryan Helsley in the bottom half. He ostensibly retired the side in order...expect a dropped third strike against Vogelbach allowed him to reach first base with two outs. Pablo Reyes pinch-ran for Big Dan, and he motored around to score the go-ahead run when the next batter, Travis Shaw, roped a double to right to make it 2-1. Avisail Garcia dealt the death blow with a two-run homer, his fifth of the year, to make it 4-1.
Josh Hader allowed a couple baserunners in the ninth but held things down to secure the victory. The Brewers and Cardinals face each other in the series finale on Thursday afternoon, with Corbin Burnes expected to face off against Jack Flaherty. First pitch is scheduled for 12:40 PM central.