I knew the Brewers’ offense would come around in this series. I mean, who has a better pitching staff to get an offense going than the Reds? (Well, maybe the Royals, but they aren’t in the NL, unfortunately.)
The Brewers crushed the Reds again today, 10-1. Coming into this series, the Brewers’ offense had mightily struggled against the Cardinals, Phillies, and even Rockies. But, the Reds’ awful pitching staff has helped get them back on track. And, the Brewers are now extremely close to winning their first division title in 29 years, as their magic number now moves to five, thanks to a Cardinals’ loss to the Phillies. Not to mention the Diamondbacks lost to the Padres as well, so they’re now two games behind the Brewers for the second-best record in the National League. Oh, and yet another good thing for the Brewers- they’re one win away from 90 wins.
For the second straight start, Yovani Gallardo had the strikeout pitch working. He went six innings while giving up one run on just two hits. He also walked two and struck out a new career-high 13 batters. It was the second straight start Gallardo struck out at least 10, as he struck out 12 in his last start against the Phillies. And, Gallardo made a little history today as well- he became the second pitcher in Brewers’ history to strike out four batters in one inning, because Jonathan Lucroy couldn’t handle what would have been the third out of the fifth inning. The first Brewers to do it was Manny Parra, who struck out four in one inning last year.
Anyway, onto the offense. Ryan Braun got it started in the first by driving in his 100th RBI of the season with a single off Edinson Volquez. The Reds countered right away with Yonder Alonso’s game-tying solo homer in the second inning, but the Brewers’ offense took off from there.
Yuniesky Betancourt had a good day at the plate (which isn’t something you see too often from him anymore). He hit a solo homer in the fourth inning to give the Brewers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, and added on a RBI single in the sixth.
But, Braun delivered the knock-out punch to the Reds in the seventh inning with a three-run shot for his 31st homer of the year. Braun finished with a 3-for-5 night, and took the lead in the NL batting title chase. He’s now hitting .333, while Jose Reyes of the Mets is hitting .332.
Anyway, that wasn’t even the end of the offense. Mark Kotsay hit a base-clearing double in the eighth inning, and Nyjer Morgan followed that up with a RBI single. But that would finally be it for the offense.
By the way, Mariano Rivera, the Yankees’ future Hall of Fame closer, earned his 601st career save today, which ties Trevor Hoffman for the most all-time. I was hoping Hoffman would hold onto that title longer, but I guess I wasn’t expecting Mo to have a 40+ save season at his age.
The Brewers will go for a sweep of the Reds tomorrow at 12:10 PM CT. They’ll send Zack Greinke (14-6, 3.87 ERA) to the mound. He’s coming off a short start against the Rockies that was plagued with long at-bats and bad defense, lasting just five innings, but the Brewers would come back and win that game. Anyway, Greinke is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in his career against the Reds.
The Reds will counter with Dontrelle Willis (0-6, 5.04), who, no matter what he does, can’t find his first win with the Reds. And he’s pitched better than his record and ERA show, in my opinion. Willis is 3-2 with a 2.70 ERA in his career against the Brewers.
UPDATE 10:49a: Willis actually became a late scratch for the Reds earlier today due to back spasms. Matt Maloney (0-2, 6.88 ERA) will start against the Brewers in Willis’ place. This will be Maloney’s first start of the year. He’s also only faced the Brewers in relief, never in a start.