The Brewers won their 40th game of the season Wednesday night, putting in a solid day’s work to breeze past the Pirates, 9-5. Chase Anderson failed to reach the fifth inning for the fourth time in five starts, but the bullpen slammed the door shut while Milwaukee’s offense continued to pour it on.
TOP PLAY (WPA)
Milwaukee hit back immediately after Anderson surrendered the Brewers’ early lead. Trailing 3-2, Ryan Braun led off the third with a single and Jonathan Lucroy followed with a walk. Both advanced into scoring position on a double steal, and after Chris Carter did one of the three things that he does (strike out), Scooter Gennett painted the first base line to score both runners (+.161). Gennett was awarded a ground-rule double on the play when the ball was fielded quite expertly by a gray-shirted man in the first row, though both runners likely would have scored regardless. The hit flipped the lead back to Milwaukee and put the Brewers ahead for good.
Two of Pittsburgh’s strongest offensive threats this season were at it again in the fifth inning. Starling Marte led off the inning with a single, then tied Jonathan Villar atop the stolen base leaderboard with his 33rd swipe of the year (Villar retook sole possession of the crown a half-inning later). Known Brewers killer David Freese cashed in, drilling a double to center (-.140) to bring Pittsburgh within a run.
A.J. Schugel’s first inning out of the bullpen was a successful 1-2-3 affair, but the Brewers got to him early and often in the sixth. Villar led off with a walk, Hernan Perez moved him to second with a single to left, and Ryan Braun made their double steal meaningless when he walked to load the bases. A half-inning after the Pirates had drawn within a run at 5-4, Lucroy banked some Badger Mutuals with a liner to left that scored a pair. Chris Carter followed with a sacrifice fly to make the score 8-4 and put the game out of reach.
TREND TO WATCH
The Brewers have been piling up the STATs (Stuff That Angers Travis) in 2016, leading all of baseball in one-out strikeouts with a runner on third. Milwaukee picked up another pair of those on Wednesday, giving them 38 on the year in 159 PA (a 23.9 percent rate). Seems bad, right? No! Immediately following both of those frustrating at bats, Milwaukee got big bail-outs from the ensuing hitter. The first came from no less a rare source than Anderson, who singled in the second inning following a Ramon Flores strikeout to plate Chris Carter and open the scoring (Villar followed with another two-out hit to score another run). Two innings later, the Brewers seemed poised to waste a bases loaded opportunity with no one out that knocked Jeff Locke out of the game. Against the new pitcher, Braun flied out and Lucroy struck out. Instead, Carter drew a walk to score Anderson and give the Brewers a little breathing room.
COMING UP NEXT
The Brewers will wrap up their three-game series with the Pirates tonight at 6:05, as Milwaukee and Pittsburgh each send starting pitchers with 5+ ERAs to the hill for the second consecutive day. For the Brewers it’ll be Matt Garza, while opposing him from the Pittsburgh dugout is Francisco Liriano.