The Brewers took advantage of a stellar night of pitching and three solo homers to get back on track in San Diego in the late hours of the night. Brandon Woodruff was fantastic, and he out-dueled Joe Musgrove despite the 13 strikeouts produced by the latter. The bullpen – run by JP Feyereisen, Brent Suter, and Josh Hader, took care of their business tonight too, and all the Crew needed were the runs produced by Luis Urias, Billy McKinney, and Tyrone Taylor. Milwaukee is now 9-7, and they moved within half a game of the idle Reds at the top of the NL Central. Woodruff takes MVP honors on the night. Everyone else that I mentioned here gets an honorable mention award. I’d also say that Omar Narvaez had himself a solid game tonight. With that, let’s take a deeper look at the game.
The Brewers did nothing in their half of the first, going down in order against Musgrove. The same could not be said of the Padres, who jumped all over Woodruff at the start of this game. Jurickson Profar drew a 10-pitch walk to start things off. He moved to third on a bloop single to center before scoring on a Fernando Tatis groundout. That put the Padres up 1-0, but Woodruff was able to retire Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer to get out of a hard-fought inning with the minimal damage done.
The Brewers also did absolutely nothing in their half of the second. Musgrove got Keston Hiura and McKinney for his third and fourth strikeouts of the game. Fortunately, Woodruff found his groove, putting the Padres down quietly with just one walk allowed. Unfortunately, he allowed Victor Caratini to really work the count in that walk, bringing his pitch count up near 50 after just the two innings.
Urias got things going for the Crew in the top of third, leading it off with a solo shot to right. Revenge is usually a dish best served cold, but it tasted pretty good for Luis in some warm weather tonight. The rest of the inning consisted of only strikeouts, giving Musgrove seven of them with only ten batters faced. Woodruff built off his second inning with a three-up, three-down third, and he did it efficiently too, ending up with a pitch count just above 50. Despite the Padres certainly making some more noise offensively, we ended the first three innings with both teams having 1 run and 1 hit. Woodruff and Musgrove were both dealing by this point.
In the top of the fourth, the Brewers…went down in order. There was just one strikeout this time, leaving Musgrove with eight on the game. Before the bottom half of the inning, we saw Urias leave the game. Daniel Robertson came in to replace him. It was later revealed that Urias left with a calf cramp, so that hopefully won’t derail him moving forward. Woodruff continued to keep it going in his half of the fourth, downing Machado and Hosmer before erasing a walk allowed to Wil Myers by getting Tommy Pham to ground out. Travis Shaw made a great pick at third to get Pham.
The Brewers made some more noise in the top of the fifth, this time off of a solo shot from McKinney, who has gotten off to a great start this season. Musgrove continued to roll outside of that homer, getting up to 10 strikeouts. You rarely see a team grab a lead with just two productive at-bats in five innings, but the Brewers managed to do it in this one. Woodruff produced another quiet inning in his half of the fifth, putting the Padres down in order with three strikeouts. The downside: he was already at 86 pitches by the time that happened, leaving him with little to work with heading into the sixth.
In the top of the sixth, the Brewers started to get some more contact going off of Musgrove after a lead-off strikeout from Woodruff. Bradley Jr. hit a rocket right back at the pitcher, who made a reflex catch. Narvaez then put a double into the left field corner. Avisail Garcia followed with a full count walk, giving the Brewers two baserunners with Travis Shaw walking to the plate. Shaw put up a fight but ultimately grounded out to second on some broken-bat contact, which meant Musgrove held serve despite the trouble. Woodruff finished with a bang in his half of the inning, tossing some great pitches to put the Padres down in order. Mark this one down as yet another elite start for the first half of Milwaukee’s very own ace tandem.
A Hiura single was the only noise the Brewers made in the seventh. Musgrove reached 13 strikeouts after getting Jace Peterson to go on a failed checked swing. Feyereisen then came on for the bottom half of the inning. He got two quick outs before walking Pham in a long at-bat. Pham didn’t stay there for long, however, and Narvaez made a huge throw – followed by an equally huge tag from Robertson – to catch him stealing.
Taylor stepped in to lead off the eighth in a pinch-hit appearance, and he kept the momentum going with the third solo shot of the day, putting the Brewers up 3-1. It was the first run of the season allowed by former Brewer Drew Pomeranz, who had just entered the game in relief of Musgrove. Despite some control issues at the tail end of the inning, Pomeranz managed to get through the eighth with just the one run given up. Suter came on for the bottom half of the eighth, and he did his job quickly despite a leadoff single. The Padres helped him out with a bunt pop-out and a grounder that turned into an easy double play.
The Brewers went down quickly in the top of the ninth, setting the stage for a Hader save in the bottom half. He did his job, working around a Fernando Tatis Jr walk to secure the win in relatively calm fashion.
1. Brandon Woodruff is really dang good
It seemed like this one would end up being a grind for Woody after he opened the game with the ten-pitch walk and the single. Instead, he made sure that the Padres did almost nothing else for the rest of his night. Adam McCalvy summed up the night as well as anyone could –
Jurickson Profar worked a 10-pitch walk from Brandon Woodruff leading off the bottom of the first. Then Jake Cronenworth singled.
Woodruff after that:
20 batters faced
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) April 20, 2021
This was an elite start despite the initial concern, and it’s the third in a row for Woodruff. Over his last three appearances, he’s given up just two runs, five hits, and four walks in nineteen innings.
How good are those numbers? That’s a WHIP (walks + hits per innings pitched) of .474. For reference, only six pitchers have ever finished a full season with a WHIP of 0.8 or lower. It’s also an ERA of just 0.947. Allowing roughly one run per nine innings will end up working out pretty well more often than not. His 21 strikeouts in that stretch, more than one per inning, aren’t too shabby either.
Three starts obviously don’t make a season, and we already saw a less-than-desirable start from Woodruff on Opening Day. These numbers should be taken accordingly. With the legal talk out of the way, there’s no denying the excellence of this stretch from Woodruff. The man is pitching like an absolute ace, and it’s good that the offense finally gave him some – emphasis there – run support today.
2. JP Feyereisen off to a fiery start; Hader killing it too
JP started the feyer, and it’s burning hot right now. The River Falls native has now produced eight quality innings, and he should, barring some unfortunate events, be a fixture in the bullpen all season long. Feyereisen has yet to give up an earned run, has struck out seven in those eight innings, and has only allowed three hits. The five walks are slightly concerning, but the overall numbers are quite good. It’s been to watch him so far, and that will hopefully continue to be the case in the coming months.
I’ll also give a shoutout to Hader here. He’s been lights out this season. The man is an absolute beast of a pitcher. Hader has faced sixteen batters so far. Two walked. The rest went straight back to the dugout, nine of them off a strikeout. That’s 17.4 strikeouts per nine innings. Aroldis Chapman’s 2014 is the only time a pitcher has ever finished with 17 or more strikeouts per nine innings when pitching at least 50 innings. Again, the same rule of limited sample size applies. There’s a lot of baseball left. That doesn’t mean Hader shouldn’t get massive amounts of credit for what he’s doing right now.
3. Unexpected heroes save the day
Heading into tonight, Luis Urias, Billy McKinney, and Tyrone Taylor had hit a grand total of 24 home runs in 856 career at-bats. If any trio were to lift the Brewers to a win with some individual shows of power, this one would not have been the pick. Yet, with Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, and Kolten Wong all out, these three delivered when they had to.
I’ll take this a little further and say that these were the heroes that we needed. By we, I mean the Brewers’ fanbase. It’s been very easy to find negativity and criticism when it comes to this team’s offense. While it’s true that some things haven’t gone according to plan with certain players, there’s no reason to be this negative. We’re 9-7 and playing as well as just about anyone in the league. Tonight’s game, and the production of these three guys, should be a reminder to us all – stay patient, enjoy the baseball, and remember that David Stearns and Craig Counsell know what they’re doing. These players are here for a reason. I could also say this in a quicker way –
We’re in the midst of the best extended stretch of baseball the Brewers have ever seen. Don’t waste it complaining.
We have two more games against the Padres, starting with another late night experience tomorrow. By now, tomorrow is actually today. A trip to Wrigley for yet another match-up with the Cubs awaits as the second series of the week.
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