The Brewers and Cubs played for the series today at Wrigley Field, and, as we’ve come to expect so far this season, we got a pitchers’ duel. Brandon Woodruff was fantastic in seven very efficient innings, and he carried a no-hitter into that seventh frame. Kyle Hendricks wasn’t quite as impressive, but he still kept the Brewers off the board in six scoreless innings of his own.
The game needed an offensive hero, and Lorenzo Cain was the man for the job. He homered in the top of the eighth to give the Brewers a 1-0 lead, and he drove a three-run bomb to center in the top of the tenth after Devin Williams let one slip in his set-up opportunity. JP Feyereisen and Brad Boxberger combined for a stressful save to bring this one home.
Woodruff and Cain were the clear MVPs of the day, and their combined efforts pushed the Brewers to 3-3 on the season. Let’s take a deeper look at the game.
There was very little offensive action in the first few innings with both pitchers dealing. Lorenzo Cain led off the top of the first with a weak dribbler to third in his return to the lineup. He was followed by Hiura, who struck out in a positive at-bat that saw him work the count and foul a number of balls off. After a single from Yelich, Garcia reached on an error, but Shaw popped up to short to end the threat.
That was as exciting as things got during the first three innings. No one reached base until the bottom half of the third. Hendricks was clinical. Woodruff threw only 18 pitches in the first two frames, and his only baserunner allowed (Jason Heyward) came on an error after Hiura misplayed a grounder and Daniel Robertson offered a terrible throw from shallow right to Woodruff at first. A self-made double play from Robertson on the following at-bat avenged his mistake and nullified the runner, and Woodruff sent Hendricks packing to make it nine-up and nine-down through three.
Woodruff kept the machine running in the middle innings. He set the Cubs down in order in all three, taking only 31 pitches to do it. After the sixth, he had thrown 56 total pitches to go with his 8 strikeouts.
Hendricks was far less efficient, but he still got the job done. After Yelich legged out a double to start the fourth, he put Garcia, Shaw, and Urias down in order. The Brewers got Daniel Robertson to second in the fifth after he singled and advanced on a Woodruff sac bunt. Unfortunately, there were already two outs at that point, and Cain was unable to do anything with his at-bat.
The Crew made even more noise in the sixth. After an ugly at-bat from Hiura, Yelich walked and then advanced to third on a Garcia single. It was a deserved hit after a lot of contact from Garcia in his first two at-bats. With one out, Shaw pulled one down the first base line that looked awfully close to being fair. Instead of giving the Brewers a lead, it was called foul, and Shaw popped out again before a Urias strikeout ended the inning.
This is where the chaos started. The Brewers did absolutely nothing in the top of the seventh, but the Cubs finally pressured Woodruff in the bottom half. Ian Happ got things going with a single. After a (loud) fly-out from Eric Sogard, Anthony Rizzo legged out a fielder’s choice to keep things alive. A flare into right from Kris Bryant looked more than threatening, but Garcia made a great play to run it down and slide through the catch.
That play kept the game scoreless, but Cain ended the tie with a solo blast to left in the top of the eighth. That was about it for the Brewers for the rest of the first nine outside of a Christian Yelich single and stolen base.
Unfortunately, the one run wasn’t enough. The first Williams-Hader combo of the season failed before it really began when Joc Pederson crushed one to right off of Williams in the eighth. That made it 1-1, and Kimbrel and Hader made sure it stayed that way through the ninth.
– Extra Innings
The Brewers struck quickly in extras. Daniel Vogelbach moved the automatic runner to third and took first himself with an opening single. Cain drove one out on the next at-bat to make it 4-1. That was about as much drama as we saw in that inning, which ended with Garcia getting stuck in a pickle.
JP Feyereisen came on for the save, and he got two quick outs before allowing Jason Hayward to single in Kris Bryant from second base. That made it 4-2 for Wilson Contreras, who walked on a full count in his pinch-hit appearance. Jake Marisnick was the next man up from the Cubs’ bench, and he worked Feyereisen to a full count too before drawing another walk to load the bases. Brad Boxberger replaced Feyereisen at that point, and he was able to get Happ to keep things from going from stressful to disastrous. 4-2 Brewers.
1. The Brewers have one heck of a pitching staff
This isn’t exactly a surprise after they carried the team last year, but the Crew’s starting pitchers have been fantastic so far. Woodruff could not have been better today, and he, Burnes, and Peralta have all turned in elite starts so far. It’s worth nothing here that we’re only six games into the season. Brett Anderson had one rough inning but did his job overall in his first start. Even Adrian Houser turned in a solid five innings before the bullpen let his game get away. Entering a playoff series with Woodruff and Burnes leading things off is going to put any team in a great spot, and the potential rise of Peralta and (maybe) Houser could give the Brewers as formidable of a pitching staff as there is from top-to-bottom.
2. Yelich is back. Hiura is not.
Yelich finished last night’s game with one hit and a walk, and he had his best game of the season in this one with three hits and a walk. This was the kind of performance we would have expected from the pre-2020 Yeli, and it’s a great sign to see it from him here. This team reaches a whole different level if Yelich is playing like an MVP.
The other guy in the lineup that could really give this offense a boost is Keston Hiura. It’s no secret that he has not – this year or last – returned to the form he showed in his successful half-season in the big leagues back in 2019. The numbers in five games this year are simply awful – 0-19 with 10 strikeouts. It’s not possible to get off to a worse start, and he was up to the same tricks today with two of those ten strikeouts in four unsuccessful trips to the plate. Hiura has too much talent to be down this bad forever, but confidence is a key for a young player who has yet to play a full season at the highest level. Right now, it’s hard to see Keston having any confidence at all.
3. Everything’s gonna be alright
The Milwaukee Brewers are now 3-3 despite six games that have been less than satisfying offensively. The pitching staff looks great. Players like Yelich and Cain look to be on the right track offensively as well. There are still 156 baseball games to play before the regular season is over, and I’m looking forward to all of them. Go Brewers.
The Brewers will travel to St Louis for a series with the Cardinals before returning to Milwaukee for another series with the Cubs. Both are three games. St Louis lost two of three to the Reds to open their season, but they had already clinched a winning series against the Marlins before today’s game.
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