> I missed pretty much all of today’s game, but I have to say I knew what I was going to be missing. The Brewers defeated the Reds today, 3-1, in yet another amazing performance by Mike Fiers. I know I’ve said this about nearly all of his starts, but I think today was the best performance of his young career. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.
The Brewers jumped on Reds ace Johnny Cueto right away in the first inning. Aramis Ramirez stayed hot and smacked a two-run shot into left field to give the Brewers the early lead.
Cueto did settle down after that inning, turning in a good start (7 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 9 K). But, after that first inning, Fiers never looked back either, and out-pitched an opponent who has been tough on the Brewers recently.
Fiers threw eight stellar innings while giving up one run on three hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out seven. The eight innings are a new career-high in innings pitched for Fiers. He also lowered his ERA to 1.80, which is just flat-out remarkable.
But the story tonight was Fiers’ bid for perfection. He needed just 66 pitches to get through the first six innings, which were flawless. But, Zack Cozart led off the seventh inning with a double to break up the perfecto. Two batters later, Brandon Phillips drove him in with a sacrifice fly, which wound up being the only blemish on Fiers’ line.
Fiers ran into a bit of trouble in the eighth as well. He started off the inning by striking out Scott Rolen, but then gave up a single to Xavier Paul. Two batters later, Ryan Hanigan hit a single to put runners on first and third with two outs. But, Fiers did what he’s done so well all year: get out of the tough jams. He struck out Ryan Ludwick to end the threat in the eighth.
> There really isn’t much more you can say about Fiers at this point, other than he’s turned himself into a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate. You can say all you want about the over-hyped Bryce Harper (who is now hitting under .260, mind you), but my vote would go to a pitcher with a sub-2.00 ERA, rather than some overrated 19 year-old outfielder who’s only in the conversation because of his age.
Anyway, I decided to check out some scouting reports regarding Fiers today to see what the prospect experts were saying about him. What I found interesting is that his scouting report is nothing compared to the stats he’s putting up. But I guess that shouldn’t come as a surprise- Fiers has a mid-to-high 80′s fastball, a solid cutter, and two plus off-speed pitches. That usually makes for a good fly-ball pitcher, but that isn’t what Fiers is doing: he’s being a dominant strikeout pitcher at the Major League level.
> Ron Roenicke once again talked about the frustration he’s having with Francisco Rodriguez’s role in the bullpen. We know, Ron. We know.
> As I mentioned in today’s pregame post, Brooks Conrad was designated for assignment by the Rays today. The man of the .000 batting average wasn’t going to last long there anyway.
The Numbers Game
> The theory I’ve been talking about the past few days finally occurred today: Jim Henderson closed out the game. He preserved Fiers’ two-run lead with a scoreless 1-2-3 inning, including a strikeout. Henderson is throwing the ball the best in the bullpen by far right now, so hopefully we see him in these situations more often.
> Jonathan Lucroy had been slumping since his return from the disabled list, with his batting average dropping from .345 to .327. But, he went 2-for-3 today to bring the BA back up to .329.
> The Brewers’ third run came on Jean Segura’s first RBI as a Brewer (and in the Majors overall), which was a groundout off Cueto in the seventh inning. Segura is still looking for his first hit.
> And that’s about it. I leave you with tomorrow’s match-up. So let’s just say it’s a good thing the Brewers took the first two games.
Mat Latos (10-3, 3.94 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (3-8, 5.57 ERA)