Game Seventy-Five Recap: Brewers 10, Twins 4

TOP PLAY (WPA):  After allowing a leadoff homer to Gerardo Parra (more on this later), a ground-rule double to Jonathan Lucroy, and back-to-back singles to Braun and Lind, right-hander Trevor May induced a weak comebacker off the bat of Carlos Gomez. May attempted to start a double play, but threw the ball into center field. Braun scored and everyone was safe (+.111 WPA).

This error allowed the Brewers to effectively put the game out of reach in the first inning, as the Twins failed to record a single out by the time Carlos Gomez stood at second base. Three additional runs subsequently crossed the plate. Certainly, avoiding the double play on Gomez’s weak grounder put the team in position to add significantly to their lead by the end of the first frame. Again, making the difference between a two- or three-run lead in the first and a game-defining, five-game cushion that would expand even more in the second.

May’s throwing gaffe is relatively commonplace for pitchers. As he spun to second base, the momentum of his turn caused him to tug his throw to the left of the second-base bag and out of reach of Brian Dozier’s glove. Fielding one’s position as a pitcher has proven to be a valuable skill. Some are better than others, while some — such as Matt Garza — consistently have problems throwing the ball to individual bases. The common conceptualization narrowly confines these throwing issues to first base; however, it often extends across the board. Pitchers do not practice the play that Trevor May attempted to make in the first inning on Friday night. That conceivably cost the Twins four runs and the game.

BOTTOM PLAY (WPA):  Following May’s error, Aramis Ramirez lined out to third baseman Trevor Plouffe. That kept Lind and Gomez at second and third, respectively, and forced the bottom of the Brewers’ order to pick up the slack (-.034 WPA).

Because the Brewers took such a big lead in the first inning, very few subsequent plays had negative impact on the Brewers’ win probability. Thus, A-Ram’s liner in the bottom of the first with no outs and a two-run lead takes on an out-sized importance. It did lessen the Brewers’ run probability in the first, to be sure, but it didn’t appear at the time (nor in hindsight) to be one of the defining moments of the game.

May altered his approach in the Ramirez at-bat. He had only thrown first-pitch fastballs to previous hitters, aside from one first-pitch curveball to Lind. Ramirez, though, got a pair of sliders to begin the at-bat. May worked away with the two sliders and then tried to bury a fastball in on the hands. The right-hander left it over the plate, and Ramirez scalded one 101 mph to Plouffe, who pulled it in and retired A-Ram for the first out of the game for the Twins.


Lohse served up a leadoff homer to Brian Dozier in the first inning, which led to a chorus of groans from the Miller Park crowd. It’s been a forgettable season for Lohse. The long ball to Dozier simply felt as if it were an extension of previous poor outings. Even though the Twins went down 1-2-3 afterward, the first inning left a sour taste in the mouth of all in attendance, likely those in the dugout as well as those in the stands.

This is why Parra’s home run to kickoff the bottom of the first held significant importance for the Brewers. It immediately erased the ill-will generated in the top-half of the frame. The fact it came on a fluke play, in which Parra’s drive to center field bounced off Shane Robinson’s glove and over the outfield wall, only added to the positive momentum (anti-SABR word alert; building a narrative alert) of the event. The Brewers would see their next four hitters reach base and five more runs cross the plate. Milwaukee ended the inning with a five run lead, and it obviously would be enough to secure the victory.


Kyle Lohse has given up 19 home runs this season. Before gagging too violently, it should be noted that opening-day stud Kyle Kendrick has surrendered 21 for the Colorado Rockies, so Lohse isn’t the worst in the league in this regard. Still, Lohse’s home-run rate has ballooned to 1.87 HR/9 while the rest of his peripherals have remained solid or near his career norms. In fact, his 9 percent swinging-strike rate is his best mark since the 2006 season — so any narrative that suggests Lohse has been wholly terrible is a bit misleading. It’s the long ball that has sunk his ’15 campaign.

The 36-year-old veteran no longer has the stuff to get away with mistakes in the strike zone. He understands this, to be sure, as he has continuously worked down-and-away from hitters, especially righties. When he has made a mistake in the zone, though, opposing hitters have crushed him.

This heat map from the 2015 season makes it clear that Lohse is getting hammered in the middle of the zone, as well as when he leaves the baseball up. This shouldn’t be surprising; however, it simply serves as further confirmation that Lohse isn’t necessarily a sinker-baller who needs to keep the baseball down, as he is someone who must live on the corners. He left a fastball up in the zone in the middle third to Dozier, who launched it over the left-field wall, and he throw a sinker middle-in to Trevor Plouffe, who rocketed one to center field.


The Brewers and Twins have an afternoon game (1:10 pm CT) on Saturday, as Matt Garza squares off against right-hander Kyle Gibson. Gibson owns a 3.35 ERA on the season has been a nice story for Minnesota. His shiny ERA, though, masks his recent struggles. The right-hander has a 5.25 ERA in the month of June. In fact, his season-long ERA is mostly a product of a wonderful month of May (1.36 ERA). He compiled a 4.84 ERA in April to go along with his 5.25 ERA thus far in June. Don’t judge Gibson’s entire body of work as being consistent. The former Missouri Tiger has struggled as of late, and the Brewers will look to build on their offensive explosion on Friday evening.

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