The Brewers’ offense continued to surge in Saturdays’ huge come-from-behind win against the Pirates.
An uncharacteristic Corbin Burnes start necessitated such a comeback. Early on, Burnes failed to produce strikeouts at his usual clip, and he was backed by a struggling defense. Burnes pitched four innings on the books after coming on in the fifth but failing to get an out. He allowed eight hits, all four runs (two earned), and walked three batters. He allowed a leadoff runner in four of five innings. For all his struggles, he flashed brilliance all day and struck out eight.
The first two innings must have been particularly frustrating for Burnes. In the absence of his normal strikeout rate, he threw for soft contact, but that contact kept falling for hits that would turn into runs.
The Pirates’ first was a mess for the Crew, characterized by defensive near misses and all-out blunders. Adam Frazier led off with a single up the middle, just out of Willy Adames’ reach. He then stole second, beating a low and wide Omar Narváez’ throw. Next, Phillip Evans singled on a lazy pop up that was just out of reach of three different Brewers in right.
With runners on the corners, Burnes failed to get out of the way of a Bryan Reynolds comebacker. If he had, it would have been an easy double play with Adames playing up the middle. Instead, the ball deflected off Burnes’ foot. He recovered the ball, but then threw wild to first, allowing two runs to score and Reynolds to reach third. He would later in the midst of a double play, and the Pirates were up 3-0 at the end of the first.
Burnes gave up back-to-back triples to begin the second, allowing the Pirates to tack on an extra run to bring the score 4-0. To his credit, Burnes would stabilize at this point, and the rest of the Crew defense would follow suit. He struck out the next three batters and allowed no more runs.
The Brewers were on the right side of the defensive slapstick in the second. Pablo Reyes hit a liner off Gonzales Erik in short. Reynolds recovered it in shallow center, but threw it away to second, allowing Reyes to reach third. Next, Corbin Burnes legged out and dove through infield single to score Reyes and put the Brewers on the board. Burnes, fortunately, got up without injury. He, unfortunately, was stranded on base at the end of the inning. Back on the mound, he delivered a steady third inning, only walking one batter.
The Crew continued to chip away at the lead in their half of the third. Christian Yelich reached on a sharp liner to right. Omar Narváez then hit a two-out single to the gap in right. Yelich turned on the wheels and scored all the way from first. 4-2 Pirates.
Burnes seemed to recalibrate to his 2021 baseline for a time in the fourth when he was one pitch away from an immaculate inning. He had notched two strikeouts and had an 0-2 count to pitcher Chad Kuhl when Kuhl hit a two-single to right to break up the feat. Burnes got out of the inning scoreless though, making way for the offensive showing the Brewers would make in their half of the fourth.
Pablo Reyes led off the inning with a hard-hit single to left and then stole second. Corbin Burnes struck out, and then Kuhl lost his command. He walked Jace Peterson and then walked Daniel Vogelbach.
This loaded the bases with only one out and none other than a resurgent Christian Yelich coming to the plate. Yelich came into his stance and clobbered the first pitch he saw. It went deep to the left field warning track. Ka’ai Tom gave chase and dove for the catch, but it fell and deflected off the wall. By the time Tom recovered and hit the cutoff man, Vogelbach was well on his way to home. He would score from first standing up.
This brought the Crew up 5-4 with one out and Christian Yelich (who had already scored from first on a well-hit single) on second and Willy Adames coming to the plate. Clay Holmes would come on to pitch for the Pirates. Adames would score Yelich with a ground-rule double over the right-center fence. This brought Omar Narváez and his .919 OPS to the plate. Narváez smoked a grounder to right-center to score Adames. Jackie Bradley Jr. and Daniel Robertson would groundout to end the inning with the Crew up 7-4.
Burnes would battle again coming in to the fifth, giving up back-to-back singles to begin the inning. He would surrender a walk on a tight strike zone to load the bases with Gregory Polanco coming to the plate and nobody out. The walk would end Burnes’ day and bring Trevor Richards to the mound.
Richards came through in the clutch. With the bases loaded, he struck out Gregory Polanco. He would go on to strike out the side with the bases loaded.
The Brewers would turn cold offensively after their mammoth fourth, going three up, three down in each of the remaining innings. This ultimately wouldn’t affect the outcome since the Brewer fourth was so huge and the Brewer bullpen was so solid.
Richards put up another scoreless inning in the sixth, ending the inning with a huge strike out that got Colin Moran looking at a changeup just in the zone.
Eric Yardley, Devin Williams, and Josh Hader would each pitch a scoreless inning of entirely contact outs. Eric Yardley’s and Josh Hader’s innings were hitless and took ten pitches.
The Crew will aim for the series sweep tomorrow with Adrian Houser on the mound.