BRUCE STRIKES AGAIN: REDS 9, BREWERS 5
The Brewers began a four-game series with their division rivals in Ohio Thursday evening. The Reds entered the game with a struggling pitching staff that ranked 29th in the league in team ERA. Unfortunately, the only team worse than them is Milwaukee, and so the results of the meeting of the two worst pitching staffs in the league were predictable: the teams combined for 14 runs on 19 hits, including five home runs. Last night, the Reds got the majority of those runs, as Chase Anderson was blown up for the second consecutive start, this time giving up seven runs – six earned – over five innings.
It was Jay Bruce. It has always been Bruce, and it always will be Bruce. This time, it was a first inning at bat following a sacrifice fly that opened the scoring. With runners on first and second and one out, Bruce blasted the first pitch he saw from Anderson high into the right field bleachers for a no-doubter that gave the home team a 4-0 lead (+.180 WPA).
That Bruce is a Brewer killer is not a secret. Still, the numbers are staggering. With 21 home runs in 209 at bats against Milwaukee at Great American Ballpark, he’s averaging a home run every 10 at bats, so you can basically count on him for one per series – he’s not gone an entire series without at home against the Brewers since 2014. Bruce has 34 career home runs against the Brewers (477 PA), 14 more than against any other team and more than twice as many as he has hit against the entire American League (541 PA). Jay Bruce is a demon long dead with nothing left to lose, and his sole purpose on this plane of existence is to rend asunder the hopes and dreams of the Brewers faithful.
This is relative, because the Brewers never cut the Reds’ win probability below 95% after Brandon Phillips’ two-run clout in the second inning made the score 7-0. In the eighth inning, Jonathan Villar sparked a two out rally with a walk in front of Alex Presley, who hammered his second home run of the season to cut the Reds’ lead to four. Ryan Braun followed with a single to keep things going, but Lucroy lined out to right field to end the inning.
Presley has been a revelation since being recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs to replace Keon Broxton, who never got his first major league hit after earning the starting job in center out of Spring Training. Presley is hitting .320/.379/.600 in 29 plate appearances and seems to be earning a larger share of playing time: he has started three of the last four days in right field as Domingo Santana has been dealing with sore shoulder. Presley’s no prospect: he’s 30 years old and has over 1000 MLB plate appearances. However, he’s walking at twice his career rate, which mirrors the shift up in plate discipline that the entire team has undergone.
TREND TO WATCH:
Milwaukee got plenty of chances against Reds starter Alfredo Simon, who entered the game with a 13.50 ERA in five appearances and four starts this season. Milwaukee put their leadoff runner on in five consecutive innings starting in the third, but any hope of a rally was extinguished quickly as the Brewers grounded into double plays in three of those innings. The twin killings allowed Simon to keep his pitch count way down as he enjoyed what was far and away his best start of the season, going 7.2 innings and allowing three runs on seven hits.
Milwaukee has hit into 27 double plays this season, third-most in the league. This can probably be attributed to a healthy walk rate (the Brewers rank third at 10.5%) and a top-five ground ball rate. The Brewers ability to get on base via base on balls is somewhat negated when those baserunners are consistently being wiped out on easy twin killings
COMING UP NEXT:
Tyler Cravy gets his first start of the year tonight in place of Wily Peralta, who is home celebrating the birth of his son. He’ll match up against Tim Adleman, who made his major league debut on Sunday a tossed six innings, striking out six and walking two in a 6-5 win over the Pirates.