In his first start since going on the injured list, Brandon Woodruff didn’t appear to miss a beat. If anything, Woodruff, who entered Tuesday with a 4.74 ERA and 1.237 WHIP, looked more like his 2021 self than his 2022 self. He put in a strong five innings, striking out 10 for the second time this season while allowing just one run. Woodruff’s start along with a big sixth inning was enough for the Brewers to defeat the Rays, 5-3.
Woodruff was off and running right out of the gate, setting down the side in order on two strikeouts in the first. Woodruff wouldn’t allow a hit until the fourth, striking out seven of the first nine batters that he faced. His fastball had some life to it, getting eight swings and misses through the first three innings. Meanwhile, Shane Baz was just as effective at limiting the Brewers. Former Ray Willy Adames got a base hit in his first at-bat back in The Trop in the first and Yelich extended his hit streak to seven games in the third, but neither resulted in runs.
The first breakthrough came in the fourth, as Yandy Diaz led off the inning with a double to center. A few batters later, with Diaz now on third following a Wander Franco groundout, Randy Arozarena singled to center, making it a 1-0 ballgame. Woodruff’s shaky fourth would be his only blemish on what was a great start for the right-hander. He threw 51 of 76 pitches for strikes, with 17 of those strikes on swings and misses.
Baz continued to keep the Brewers off the scoreboard into the sixth. Christian Yelich led off the inning with his second single of the game. Baz then got Adames and Tellez to strike out swinging before getting pulled from the game at 95 pitches. Instead of leaving Baz in to try to finish off the inning, Kevin Cash went to right-hander Matt Wisler out of the bullpen to get Andrew McCutchen. That move immediately backfired, as McCutchen took Wisler deep on the second pitch he saw, giving the Brewers a 2-1 lead.
The Brewers wouldn’t stop there. Kolten Wong ripped a ground-rule double to right following McCutchen’s home run. One pitch later, Luis Urias launched a 402-foot home run to left, quickly giving the Brewers a 4-1 lead just eight pitches into Wisler’s appearance. All four runs were with two outs.
Trevor Gott kept the Rays off the scoreboard in the sixth, while Brad Boxberger did the same in the seventh. The middle relievers for the Brewers continue to get the job done as of late for the Brewers. Boxberger in particular has been effective out of the pen, giving up just three runs in his last 16.1 innings of work. The Brewers added to their lead in the top eighth, as Urias got his third RBI of the night on a double to right, driving in Wong but getting thrown out trying to turn a double into a triple.
With a 5-1 lead, Counsell would give the ball to Jason Alexander for his first appearance out of the bullpen. The rookie has been getting the job done in his five starts so far but struggled in his first relief appearance. Alexander struggled with command early, walking Brett Phillips and Diaz to start the inning. A passed ball put runners at second and third, allowing Wander Franco to make it a 5-2 game on a sacrifice fly to center. With Diaz now on third, Harold Ramirez made it a 5-3 game on a ground-out, driving in Diaz. Alexander then exited the game after getting hit by a comebacker off the bat of Arozarena. Devin Williams took over and kept the score 5-3.
In the ninth, Josh Hader did his thing and got his 23rd save of the season, sitting down the Rays in order on three strikeouts to give the Brewers the 5-3 victory.
The victory keeps the Brewers in first place in the NL Central and improves their record to 43-33. They will try to make it a perfect three-for-three in series victories over the AL East tomorrow, having already defeated the Orioles and Blue Jays this season. Eric Lauer will take the mound for the Brewers as Jalen Beeks gets the start for the Rays. The first pitch is at 11:10 am CT, and you can find the game on Bally Sports Wisconsin and the Brewers Radio Network.
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