It started as the debut of American Family Field, Bally Sports on television instead of Fox Sports Wisconsin and fans back in the stands. It ended with a victory and a promising start for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Milwaukee had a perfect start to their newly-named ballpark. A tribute to Hank Aaron. New lights and features for everyone to see the first time. A beautiful National Anthem sung by 12-year-old Racine native Liamani Segura. No one knew it would lead to one of the most exciting Opening Days in recent memory.
Woodruff and Maeda
It wasn’t hard to tell that Brandon Woodruff was excited to pitch and represent the Brewers again on Opening Day. The heat came early and often during his 2021 debut.
Think Brandon Woodruff is amped to pitch in front of fans?
His fifth pitch of 2021 was 99.1 mph. He threw only two fastballs harder than that in all of 2020.
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) April 1, 2021
Woodruff and Maeda had very similar days. Woodruff went for four innings, Maeda for four and one out. Both aces gave up six hits, two walks and had five strike outs a piece. Woodruff ended up with three earned runs, while Maeda had one.
They both ran into bad luck during their outings. A wild pitch in the third led to two runs for the Twins. An infield error that should have resulted in a double play kept the inning alive for Milwaukee. With baseball going back to a full season, pitchers will be pretty limited. Maeda and Woodruff both ended their days under 90 pitches. Woodruff had 78, while Maeda had 88. Neither pitcher would leave with a win or loss.
Middle of the Game
After the fourth inning, Freddy Peralta came in and had two solid innings for the Brewers. Peralta is technically the fifth starter, but with off days early on in the season he will be available in the bullpen for a while. Peralta ended up striking out all six outs recorded. He did have three walks, but did not give up any earned runs.
After the Brewers walked in a run in the third and loaded the bases in the fifth that led to another, Minnesota didn’t give up another run until the bottom of the ninth. The Brewers weren’t as lucky. In the seventh inning, Eric Yardley gave up a single to Max Kepler and then a home run to Byron Buxton to put the Twins ahead 5-2. Kepler and Buxton both had great games. The Brewers bullpen seemed a bit shaky, while the Twins looked impressive and the outcome did not seem great.
Ninth and Tenth Innings
Everything changed in the ninth inning. Minnesota brought in their closer Alex Colome to hopefully end the game. That would not happen. After Daniel Robertson flied out to right field, Kolten Wong was hit by a pitch. Then Hiura grounded into a possible game-ending double-play, but a throwing error by Colome kept everyone safe.
Christian Yelich made his first clutch hit of the 2021 season, smashing a single into deep right. It brought home Wong and Hiura went to second. When the ball hit the bat, almost everyone was convinced the ball was leaving the park.
Avisail Garcia grounded out to first base, but that did move Hiura to third and Yelich to second. Travis Shaw was up next, and promptly welcomed himself back to Milwaukee with a double to right center, and the game was tied. Shaw left Opening Day 2021 going 2-for-4 with three RBIs and one crucial walk in the third inning that walked in the team’s first run. It was also nice to see the Brewers hit off a closing pitcher that isn’t named Kimbrel.
Brewers closer Josh Hader then took the mound in the top of the 10th inning. He struck out the side. He did have a wild pitch that sent the starting runner at second to third. Hader, along with a lot of us, forgot that rule was still in play this year.
Josh Hader said he didn't remember that the 10th started with a runner on 2nd.
"We made it work," he said.
I also did not remember until seeing it.
— Will Sammon (@WillSammon) April 1, 2021
In the bottom of the 10th, Lorenzo Cain started at second base for the Brewers. Omar Narvaez singled and sent Cain to third. Orlando Arcia then stepped up to the plate. He hit a high-bouncing grounder to second base, and the throw wasn’t in time for a diving Lorenzo Cain.
The Brewers win their first game of the 2021 season in extra innings with the score of 6-5. After the game, Yelich posted a very nice video for everyone to enjoy.
— Christian Yelich (@ChristianYelich) April 2, 2021
It was nice to see Cain, Narvaez and Arcia the reason why the Brewers walked away with a win. Obviously the ninth inning was huge, but the entire bottom 10th sequence was magical. Especially coming from three players that have been under a microscope coming into this season.
Josh Hader is still good.
Travis Shaw and Christian Yelich might be each other’s lucky charm. We will see what happens the rest of the season. It was amazing to see Shaw have a great return game in Milwaukee.
New third base coach Jason Lane sending Shaw during a crucial moment can’t happen often this season. Let’s chalk it up to being new at the position and everyone loving Ed Sedar so much.
This team should win a lot of games this year.