Ethan Small’s big-league debut was a mixed bag, but the Brewers offense hit three home runs to secure a 7-6 comeback win in the first game of Monday’s doubleheader.
Milwaukee’s top pitching prospect started strong, inducing eight swings and misses and striking out four Cubs over his first two innings. Meanwhile, Jace Peterson put the Brewers on the board first with a solo blast to right field. It was the fifth home run of the year for Peterson, who has left the yard two days in a row.
Unfortunately, things went sideways for Small in the third. The control problems that have followed him throughout his minor-league career came out in full force, as he recorded just two outs and issued four walks. A two-RBI single by Nico Hoerner between the final two walks made it a 2-1 Cubs lead.
After Small tossed 30 pitches in the inning, Craig Counsell was forced to go to the bullpen. Trevor Kelley limited the damage by getting Nelson Velazquez to pop out. Small’s final line in his debut was two runs allowed on four hits and four walks with four strikeouts in 2.2 innings.
The Brewers quickly tied the game up in the top of the fourth with help from the Cubs defense. With two outs, Omar Narvaez hit a soft line drive to left. It appeared to be a catchable ball for Clint Fraizer, but he waited back and allowed the ball to drop. He then let it get past him, allowing Narvaez to scoot into second.
Keston Hiura made it a costly mistake, shooting a line drive past shortstop Nico Hoerner to tie it up 2-2.
Kelley came back out for the bottom of the fourth and was less successful than in the previous inning, allowing back-to-back home runs to P.J. Higgins and Rafael Ortega to make it a 4-2 game.
The Brewers would tie it up again in the top of the sixth. Once again, the comeback was aided by poor defense. After Luis Urias hit a check-swing roller to third base, first baseman Frank Schwindel failed to handle a low throw by Patrick Wisdom, allowing Urias to reach base.
Christian Yelich and Rowdy Tellez flew out, bringing Tyrone Taylor to the plate with two outs. Taylor got the barrel on a Matt Swarmer slider on the outside corner and launched it to the left-center field seats for a game-tying home run.
The decisive blast came the following inning. After Luis Urias thought he drew a walk on an outside fastball that was called a strike, he golfed a slider from Daniel Norris into the basket in left field, making it a 7-4 Brewers lead.
The back end of the bullpen made it interesting, but they were able to hang on to secure the win.
Trevor Gott allowed two runs in seventh to make it a one-run game. After allowing three hits against his four-seam and two-seam fastballs, Gott relied on his cutter to end the inning with the lead intact.
In the eighth, a bloop base hit off of Devin Williams and an error by Mike Brosseau on a tough hop put the go-ahead run on base. Williams walked Frank Schwindel but froze Patrick Wisdom on a changeup right down the middle to escape trouble.
Josh Hader worked around a leadoff base hit for a scoreless ninth, recording all three of his outs via strikeout to improve to a perfect 17-for-17 in save chances this season.
The second game of the twin bill is scheduled to begin at 6:40 p.m. CDT. In a battle of southpaws, Aaron Ashby gets the ball for the Brewers opposite Drew Smyly.