To mark the second half of the season, the Brewers extended their division lead to five games over the second-place Cincinnati Reds. It happened with a 11-6 comeback win.
By the fourth inning, it looked like the game was headed the way of the last three in the strange seven game series between the Brewers and Reds, interrupted only by the Midsummer Classic that hosted five Brewers last weekend.
Adrian Houser scuffled and battled plenty of base path traffic, failing to elicit the easy grounders characteristic of his better performances. Houser and the Crew managed the surging Red’s lineup well considering Houser only garnered one strikeout and wasn’t getting groundballs. Through four innings, he allowed four hits, four runs (all earned), walked three, and hit two batters (though the HBP call that allowed Nick Castellanos to reach was questionable at best).
Two-run doubles by centerfielder Tyler Naquin (in the first inning) and Brewer-killer Eugenio Suárez (in the third) left the Brewers down 4-1 by the end of the fourth inning. For the most part, the Brewers’ offense struggled to keep up with the Reds’ offensive production in early innings. The obvious exception was Avisaíl García, who, in the second inning and his first at-bat, fired off a solo shot to left center to suggest he hadn’t cooled down a bit during the All-Star break.
Willy Adames was also carrying over his first half business, starting a mammoth Brewer rally in the fifth. He got all of the first pitch he saw in the inning, a mid-90s fastball he carried over the opposite field fence. Adames’ knock brought the Brewers within a run and scored Kolten Wong, who had previously reached on a liner to center. Wong was also doing his thing in the first game of the second half, going 3-5 and scoring two runs in his first game off the IL.
The Reds would tack on another run in the fifth while facing Brent Suter, but in the sixth, Luis Urías answered back with a pretty left field double to bring the Brewers back within one run. He scored Jace Peterson who was, characteristically, on-base, this time with a walk. Urías had an incendiary game of his own, going 2-4 with a walk, scoring two runs, and knocking in two runs.
Amir Garrett came on to replace Luke Mahle and face Jackie Bradley Jr. JBJ hit a high chopper that just out of reach of Jonathan India to score Urías and tie the game 5-5. Bradley would go on to steal second and score on a Kolten Wong grounder to left field, bringing the Crew up 6-5.
Urías had more power and more extra base hits in him. In the eight, he caught a changeup off the outside corner and carried it out of Great American Ballpark to bring the Brewers up 7-5.
Urías cleared the bases only to make way for the rally that would follow in the eighth. JBJ singled to center with one out and advanced to center on a two-out Kolten Wong single to left. Christian Yelich walked to load the bases with Willy Adames coming to the plate. Adames hit a double off the left field wall to score JBJ, score Wong, advance Yelich to third, and bring the Crew up 9-5.
The game was well broken open at that point, and a little bit of chaos would tack on a couple more runs for the Crew in the inning. All-Star catcher Omar Narváez would strike out swinging, but reach first on a wild pitch that would get past catcher Tucker Barnhart. Yelich scored to bring the Crew up 10-5 and Adames advanced to third. He’d come around to score, bringing the Brewers up 11-5 on another wild Ryan Hendrix pitch, this time with Avi at bat.
Overall, the Brewers bullpen would offer solid relief for Houser, who has won eight of his last nine starts. Brent Suter got two quick outs to begin the fifth before a rare Kolten Wong fielding error extended the inning once and Tim Timmons’ questionable strike zone walked Eugenio Suárez and extended it again. This allowed Tucker Barnhart to knock in Naquin, who had previously reached on the error.
In the sixth, Jake Cousins’ slider flashed brilliance, but he had occasional command issues, hitting Shogo Akiyama and walking Jesse Winker. Omar Narváez and Willy Adames cancelled out the HBP with an amazing relay and tag to catch Akiyama stealing.
Pro Tip: Don't run on this All-Star. pic.twitter.com/c1wu277JLk— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) July 17, 2021
Miguel Sánchez looked sharp across a three up, three down eighth inning. He surrendered a home run to Aristides Aquino in the ninth, but at that point, it wouldn’t matter. The Brewers’ had fairly trounced the Reds in the late innings and extended their first place lead to five games.
Over the next two games, the Crew will look to get greedy and extend their NL Central lead over the second-place Reds. Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes are set to take the mound in games two and three of the series (or game six and seven, depending on how you look at it), Saturday and Sunday.