Game 130 Recap: Pirates 3 Brewers 1

Four runs, all on solo shots: three for Pittsburgh, one for Milwaukee. You sweep some, you get swept by some.

Best Play: The first time through the Brewers order, Ivan Nova allowed a lone hit and picked up a pair of strikeouts. Jonathan Villar assured he wouldn’t have as smooth a trip the second time. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Nova hung a curveball, and Villar blasted it to right-center for his 11th home run of the year.

Villar’s dinger (+.123) put the first run of the game on the board, in favor of the home team. Milwaukee’s 1-0 lead translated to a 63.5 percent win probability, up from 51.2 percent when Chase Anderson went down swinging. From there, it would remain above 50 percent until the sixth frame, beyond which…well, you’ve read the headline.

Milwaukee has kept Villar in the leadoff spot primarily because of his ability to get on base — after Sunday’s effort, he’s tallied a .377 OBP this season, one of the better marks in the NL (though annoyingly behind four Cubs). The power, as it ebbs and flows, is the occasional icing on that cake. His ceiling likely falls somewhere around his current ISO of .142, but even that’s a solid figure for a speedster. 

Worst Play: The Brewers wouldn’t hold onto the lead for long. Leading off the sixth inning for the Pirates, John Jaso clubbed a round-tripper to right off Chase Anderson. The righty would recover to retire Andrew McCutchen, but Gregory Polanco would tag him immediately after that. Over the span of nine pitches, a 1-0 lead would become a 2-1 deficit.

Polanco’s laser shot (-.171) dragged the Brewers’ chances down to 36.3 percent, their lowest of the game to that point. While Jhan Marinez would record the final two outs of the inning, the damage had been done; the Brewers wouldn’t rise above 50 percent for the remainder of the contest. The four-bagger that Starling Marte ripped in the eighth inning was simply the final nail in the Milwaukee coffin.

This season, Anderson has struck out 103 hitters and walked 45; the resulting per-nine inning rates are satisfactory, if unimpressive. His 25 home runs allowed, though, are just unacceptable, especially when you take into account his 124.1 innings. Aside from Jon Niese, no Senior Circuit hurler with at least 100 frames this season has a higher HR/9 than Anderson’s 1.81. Until he learns how to pitch to Miller Park’s cozy dimensions, the long balls will persist, and the ERA will remain high.

Trend to Watch: When your team scores just one run, it’s almost never the fault of just one hitter, and Sunday was no exception. Domingo Santana and Scooter Gennett each went 0-for-3, and Chase Anderson struck out in his two plate appearances. However, the former two simply had bad games in otherwise respectable offensive seasons, and the latter is a pitcher. Orlando Arcia, on the other hand, can’t rely on those excuses. His 0-for-3 wasn’t a fluky blemish, but a continuation of a disturbing trend.

Arcia does have one critical factor working against him — his age. He celebrated his 22nd birthday earlier this month, meaning he’s younger than the vast majority of the competition he faces. But youthful inexperience can explain only so much. At some point, we’ll need to reckon with Arcia’s .193/.268/.284 triple-slash in the majors.

That point will probably be later this week, when I’ll cover Arcia’s struggles in greater depth. For now, I’ll summarize the salient points: He’s had an exceptionally difficult time elevating the ball and making solid contact. We saw both of these on display Sunday, as Arcia put the ball on the ground in all three of his trips to the dish. While he does have some speed, with three stolen bases already this season, he’ll need to hit some line drives eventually to improve upon his .235 BABIP and .091 ISO.

Up Next: The trip through the NL Central gauntlet continues with three games versus St. Louis. Zach Davies, Wily Peralta, and Matt Garza are slated to face Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, and Luke Weaver, respectively. As the Brewers try to slow down one of the hottest offenses in baseball, they’ll pray that their previous shortstop can impart some hitting wisdom unto the current one.

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