The Milwaukee Brewers bounced back from their 4-0 shoutout loss against the Chicago Cubs on Opening Day to defeat that same team 3-1 on Saturday. It was a difficult game played in bitter cold that had fans dressed like they were taking in a football game as opposed to a baseball contest. Fortunately, Milwaukee’s bats got warm in the eighth inning and, behind solid all-around pitching, that was enough to give them their first win of the season. Of course, there were plenty of things that they could have done better; but there were also things that should have fans feeling positive.
1. Milwaukee Brewers Off-Season Trade Targets Come Through
There was a great deal of negative feelings among Brewers fans this offseason. Once again, the team did not spend very much money in free agency, making no high-profile signings. However, Milwaukee did pull off a few notable trades. Kolten Wong was sent to Seattle for Jesse Winker (and Abraham Toro, who is with the Nashville Sounds, the Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate); Hunter Renfroe was sent to the Los Angeles Angels for pitching prospects; and Esteury Ruiz was part of the trade that landed William Contreras in Milwaukee.
The three runs that the Brewers scored in the eighth inning to complete a challenging comeback victory were all driven in by players they traded for. Jesse Winker hit a pinch-hit single to score right fielder Brian Anderson. With Brice Turang running for Winker, Contreras delivered a two-out two-RBI single to give the Brewers a 3-1 lead.
Timely hitting was lacking on this team last year, but [very] early returns on these trades point to a different direction in 2023, and that is very exciting.
2. These Rookies Can Play
One thing is clear so far in this very [VERY] young season: Milwaukee is going to depend a great deal on their rookie players to produce. Joey Wiemer made his Major League debut in center field after Luis Urias was put on the IL (he will miss almost two months). Wiemer got his first Major League hit, a double, on the first pitch that he saw. He finished the day 1-2.
Garrett Mitchell and Brice Turang did not start, but Mitchell was called on to pinch hit and drew a walk. Turang, running for Jesse Winker after his RBI hit, stole a base. Both of them scored on Contreras’ RBI single. Before the season started, manager Craig Counsell said that we would see more runs created on the basepaths, and that certainly happened with these young players today.
Not to be forgotten, rookie relief pitcher Peter Strzelecki pitched a perfect seventh inning after coming in for relief of Brandon Woodruff, who went six innings, allowed one run, and struck out eight. Strzelecki also pitched for the Brewers on Opening Day, and did not allow a run then either.
(Of note, and not a rookie, Matt Bush pitched a clean eighth inning, too. So far, this bullpen, which many fans bemoaned going into the season, has yet to allow a run).
3. Brian Anderson Continues to Swing a Good Bat
The Brewers would not have had such a successful eighth inning if not for Brian Anderson. Starting in right field once again, Anderson was 1-3 with a walk and a run scored. His single to leadoff the eighth inning is what started the Brewers’ comeback. Following his knock, Garrett Mitchell walked. Jesse Winker’s single scored Anderson and advance Mitchell to third.
Brice Turang stole second while running for Winker, but Mike Brosseau grounded out, unable to score any runners. Willy Adames walked to load the bases for Christian Yelich with just one out. However, Yelich struck out. Fortunately for the Brewers, Contreras was able to come through with that two-out single to score the two runs.
It all started with Anderson’s single.
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