(Editor’s note: this recap was written by famous online blogger Travis Sarandos)
THE STORY OF TONIGHT: Milwaukee finally got a solid pitching performance, as Jimmy Nelson went eight innings while allowing five hits and a walk against five strikeouts. It was the first time this season that a starting pitcher had completed the eighth inning and just the third time that a starter finished the seventh, with both of the other instances having been accomplished by Nelson as well. In fact, last night was the deepest a Brewers’ starter went in a game since Taylor Jungmann’s complete game victory over the Dodgers on July 11 of last year. For his troubles, Nelson was rewarded with his third loss of the season as the Brewers offensive maneuvers were driven back by James Shields, who struck out nine and scattered seven hits over seven shutout innings.
THAT WOULD BE ENOUGH: The Padres plated what turned out to be the game winning run in the fourth inning. Wil Myers led off the inning with a ground ball up the middle that squeezed past the infield defense for a single and then swiped second base after a Matt Kemp fly out. Brett Wallace followed with a pop fly of his own, giving Nelson a clear path out of the inning. Instead Melvin Upton Jr. laced a ground ball to left, scoring Myers and giving the Padres an insurmountable 1-0 lead (+.117 WPA).
DO NOT THROW AWAY YOUR SHOT: The Brewers had two significant chances to put a number in the R column Thursday. Both times it was Ryan Braun at the plate, who entered the game hitting .380. This is your Ideal Scenario and if you could just send up whoever you wanted in clutch situations, Braun is the man you’d stick in the batter’s box every time. Unfortunately, it was not to be yesterday. In the sixth, Braun stepped up with runners at the corners and one out after a Scooter Gennett single sent Jonathan Villar to third. Braun squandered a golden opportunity to plate the tying run when he rolled over to third to start a 5-4-3 double play (-.205 WPA).
Later on in the 8th inning with the Brewers now trailing by a pair, Braun again came up with Villar and Gennett on base, this time on first and second and with two outs. If this was the last 15 minutes of a baseball movie, you know Braun is pounding one off the scoreboard here to give Milwaukee the win. Alas this is real life, and in real life the Brewers are a smoldering trash fire. Braun once again rolled over to third base, wiping Gennett at second base (-.083) on a fielder’s choice and ending the Brewers final threat. Taken together with his caught stealing on a strike-em-out-throw-em-out in the fourth, and Braun was worth a whopping -.328 WPA. Woof.
HELPLESS: The Brewers have struggled with their strikeout rate all season, but they’ve been especially bad lately. Milwaukee struck out 11 times on Thursday, marking the fourth time in five games they have been set down on strikes 10 or more times. The Giants, Yankees and Angels all have yet to record four games with double digit punch outs this season. It’s one thing to be made to look silly against the likes of Jose Fernandez, but Wednesday’s 12-strikeout game for Wei-Yin Chen was a career high.
WHAT COMES NEXT: The Brewers continue their four game series with the Padres throughout the weekend. Tonight’s matchup features Junior Guerra and Christian Friedrich on the hill. The former makes his third start of the season hoping to do something other than four runs over six innings. The latter is a former Rockie is making his 2016 and Padres debut. The Padres starters on Saturday and Sunday are both still officially TBA – Andrew Cashner has apparently had a setback after being declared ready to start Friday earlier this week.