The Brewers came into the 2023 postseason and started off with a blast of energy. However, that quickly fizzled in a game where the Brewers were their own worst enemy. They gave up a 3-0 lead and failed to capitalize on several scoring opportunities, while the Diamondbacks got to Corbin Burnes and Devin Williams as they took game one of the NL Wild Card Series.
Burnes started out well, having to work through the first inning but retiring the Diamondbacks in order. The Brewers responded for Burnes in the bottom of the first. Before the game, manager Craig Counsell mentioned how important it is to attack a pitcher early: “It’s always a priority inning for sure that you have a chance to just get a pitcher before he is quite settled in, and I think that applies to every game.”
That’s exactly what the Brewers did against Brandon Pfaadt. Christian Yelich drew a leadoff walk and moved to third on a William Contreras single. Carlos Santana cashed in the first run of the game with another single, and the Brewers got a 1-0 lead. The Brewers had runners at first and second with no outs, but couldn’t do anything from there as Pfaadt struck out the next three batters.
The Diamondbacks had their first baserunner in the top of the second. Christian Walker singled to start the inning. Walker would steal second as Lourdes Gurriel Jr. struck out but was stranded there as Burnes struck out Alex Thomas to end the inning. Josh Donaldson gave the Brewers another leadoff baserunner with a single in the bottom of the inning, and the Brewers went small ball with Brice Turang bunting him over to second. That set up Tyrone Taylor, who hit one out to left field and increased the Brewers lead to 3-0.
The Diamondbacks came back in the third inning. Before the game, manager Torey Lovullo talked about facing Burnes and said, “We need to be spot on and be present and make adjustments.” They were able to make those adjustments as the third started and the lineup turned over. A one-out single by Geraldo Perdomo set up Corbin Carroll, who followed that with a home run to deep right center, and the Diamondbacks closed the gap to 3-2. On the next pitch, Ketel Marte sent one out to right field and the game was tied up at 3-3. Burnes got out of the inning with no further damage, but he needed 28 pitches in the inning and was already over 60 pitches in his start.
Looking to respond in the bottom of the third inning, the Brewers put together a strong scoring chance. Sal Frelick beat out an infield single to put their first runner on base, and then moved up to third with a double from Willy Adames. After Josh Donaldson flew out, Pfaadt came out of the game and the Diamondbacks went to their bullpen. Joe Mantiply came in to face Brice Turang, but Turang drew the walk to load the bases. Unfortunately, the Brewers couldn’t bring in a run as Tyrone Taylor grounded out to end the inning.
Burnes came back for the fourth but the Diamondbacks scored again. Gabriel Moreno hit a solo home run over the Brewers bullpen and put the Diamondbacks up 4-3. Burnes finished the inning without allowing another baserunner, but the Brewers were now working from behind. The Brewers couldn’t get anything going in the bottom of the fourth, with a one-out walk to William Contreras leading nowhere.
In the fifth, Burnes started the inning but walked Perdomo. He then had an extended at-bat against Carroll (which featured an injury check on Santana and confusion about a mound visit) that also ended in a walk. That ended Burnes’ day, and the Brewers went to Abner Uribe first out of the bullpen. He stabilized the inning, getting a groundout and strikeout for the first two outs. Walker drew a walk, but Moreno grounded out and the Brewers escaped the inning with the bases loaded.
From there it was a battle of the bullpens. The Diamondbacks used their third reliever to start the bottom of the fifth with Ryne Nelson entering the game. Nelson was a starting pitcher during the regular season, so that may have affected him coming into the game in relief. Frelick, Adames, and Donaldson all singled to load the bases. Turang came up and the first pitch was in the dirt and was ruled a hit by pitch. After review, the call was overturned, and Turang went back to the at-bat. Nelson got the strikeout of Turang from there.
The Diamondbacks went back to the bullpen, and Ryan Thompson was their fourth reliever used already in the fifth inning. Tyrone Taylor came up to face Thompson with the bases loaded and one out. He worked the count full, and then hit a sharp ball toward third base. Unfortunately, it was right at Evan Longoria, who used a jumping catch to get the out and then threw to second quick to get Adames, who was too far off the base. The Brewers couldn’t capitalize off of the loaded bases and were still down 4-3. Even though they had a 10-5 hit advantage at this point, and were 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position, they had already left nine runners on base.
The sixth inning featured two more pitchers used for the Brewers. Elvis Peguero started the inning and recorded two outs before allowing a single to Longoria. Counsell swapped to Milner right after that, and Milner finished out the inning. The Brewers went back to work in the bottom of the inning. Yelich started with a walk, and then a ground ball from Contreras was bobbled by Longoria. However, Yelich was caught off second base and tried to dive back in. He was originally called safe, but another review overturned a call in favor of the Brewers and they had a second out in the game because of a baserunning mistake. From there, Santana struck out and Canha grounded out, keeping the score at 4-3.
Milner returned to start the seventh and allowed a single to Carroll to start the inning. He got Marte to fly out, and then Counsell made another pitching change, bringing in Joel Payamps. Tommy Pham worked the count full before striking out, and Contreras got Carroll on a stolen base attempt. The Diamondbacks challenged for the third time, but this time there wasn’t conclusive evidence and the call stood. The Brewers couldn’t do anything in the bottom of the inning, with a single by Adames erased on a double play.
Payamps returned for the eighth. He allowed two baserunners right away, and both of them moved up on a groundout. However, Payamps didn’t let them score with a strikeout and a groundout to end the inning.
The Brewers again couldn’t capitalize in the bottom of the inning. Jesse Winker got a pinch-hit chance, making the roster over players like Garrett Mitchell and Rowdy Tellez. Craig Counsell said before the game, “Ultimately that decision was we have to pick a bat, and we have to feel — we have to pick the guy in a pinch-hit situation, who do we want up there? We just had to make that choice.” Winker ended up striking out on three pitches and might have tweaked his back on his second pitch. Taylor and Yelich followed with their own strikeouts to keep the game at 4-3.
Down one in the ninth, the Brewers went to Devin Williams to keep it that way. He started with walks to Perdomo and Carroll. Marte struck out, then the Diamondbacks went for a double steal but Contreras got Perdomo at third. Williams threw a wild pitch that let Carroll get to third, then walked Pham. Pham would steal second, and then Christian Walker doubled to deep center to bring them both in, giving the Diamondbacks insurance. Bryse Wilson came in and finished the inning, but the Brewers were down 6-3.
Paul Sewald came in to close the game for the Diamondbacks. The Brewers recorded two quick outs with a strikeout and a fly out, but Canha was hit by a pitch for a baserunner. Canha got to second on indifference, but Frelick flew out and the Brewers dropped game one.
The Brewers had their chances in this game and they didn’t take advantage. They outhit the Diamondbacks 12-9, though the Diamondbacks had the walk advantage at 7-4. As a team, they went 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base. Adames had a three-hit game, while Contreras reached base three times with two hits and a walk. Yelich also reached three times with a hit and two walks. While the Brewers definitely got unlucky a few times, that wasn’t what cost them this game. They had plenty of chances to pull ahead again but could not take advantage of any of them.
The Brewers will need to win two in a row to advance to the next round now, and they’ll have to face the Diamondbacks best two starting pitchers to do it. Zac Gallen will pitch for the Diamondbacks, and the Brewers announced after the game that Freddy Peralta will start game two. Game time is 6:08 p.m. on ESPN2 again.