Brewers’ bullpen holds serve until extra inning W

> I missed most of today’s game, but something rare took place, apparently: the Brewers’ bullpen didn’t give up a run. *gasp*

> The Brewers defeated the Astros today, 5-3, in ten innings. The offense had another relatively slow day, but it was just enough to squeak past the Astros. The Brewers’ bullpen was also stellar, holding the ‘Stros down to give the Brewers a win in their last game before the All-Star break.

Zack Greinke was starting his second consecutive game, and it didn’t go very well. If you recall yesterday, he was ejected in the first inning after four pitches for spiking the ball at the ground. So he was able to come back and start again today, but went just three innings while giving up three runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out five. Greinke’s bright spot was that he struck out the side in third inning, but other than that, he wasn’t very sharp. Ron Roenicke had already announced prior to the game that Greinke wouldn’t go very deep, and that he wanted to get Marco Estrada, the original scheduled starter, his share of work in.

All of the Astros runs came in the first inning. Jordan Schafer led off the game with a single, and Jose Altuve drove him in with a double. One batter later, J.D. Martinez hit an RBI single. Then, Greinke had a temporary lapse of command. After striking out Jed Lowrie and giving up a single to Chris Johnson, Greinke walked Brian Bogusevic to load the bases, then served up a bases-loaded walk to Chris Snyder. He struck out the pitcher, Jordan Lyles, to end the inning, but the damage had been done, and it was obvious Greinke was still shaken up about yesterday.

The Brewers answered in the second inning on Rickie Weeks’ solo home run, but didn’t score again until Aramis Ramirez’s RBI single in the sixth.

The next threat came in the eighth inning. Astros reliever Wesley Wright walked Norichika Aoki to start the inning. After Nyjer Morgan moved him over with a sacrifice bunt, Ryan Braun once again came through in the clutch and hit a game-tying RBI single. Braun then stole both second and third base, but Corey Hart killed the rally.

Neither squad scored in the ninth, so the game was sent to extras, which has been quite the theme for the Brewers this year. The Astros put in struggling reliever Fernando Rodriguez for the tenth, and he walked Morgan to start the inning. Morgan then stole second, which prompted the Astros to intentionally walk Braun. Then, with Ramirez batting, Rodriguez threw a wild pitch (apparently the last name Rodriguez automatically makes you an erratic reliever), and both runners advanced. So Rodriguez was gifted with another open base, and naturally walked Ramirez. Hart then made up for his rally-kill in the eighth by hitting a go-ahead RBI single. Weeks followed that up with another RBI single. Unfortunately, Rodriguez found his stuff and struck out the side from there, preventing the Brewers from putting up a big inning.

John Axford was on for the save in the bottom of the inning, and we all know how he’s pitched lately. It looked like we were in for another blown save when he gave up back-to-back singles to Snyder and Matt Dominguez. But, after Schafer moved both runners on a sacrifice bunt, Ax came back to strike out Altuve and Scott Moore to end the game and earn hi 15th save of the year.

> As I’ve kept saying, the Brewers bullpen was outstanding today. Until Axford gave up the singles in the tenth, the Astros hadn’t gotten a hit since the second inning when Greinke was still in. Estrada did indeed get his work in, tossing three near perfect innings, blemished by one walk while striking out three. Jose Veras, Francisco Rodriguez, and Manny Parra each threw perfect innings of their own as well.

I’m not going to get too excited about this, because it is the Astros. But this is a good sign and should be a confidence-builder for the Brewers’ struggling bullpen.

> Don’t look now, Jayson Stark, but Weeks is legitimately starting to get hot. He went 3-for-5 today with two RBIs, yet his average is still at an excruciating .199. Guess he’ll have to wait until after the All-Star break to bring it over the .200 barrier.

> Greinke already sort of made history today, being just the second pitcher this season to start consecutive games (C.J. Wilson of the Angels being the other). But now he’s got a chance to do something a pitcher hasn’t done since 1917: start three start games. Greinke is scheduled to start the first game after the All-Star break (which has been changed to four days this year), and that would count as three consecutive.

If he only he were starting the All-Star Game too.

> And that’s about it. After the ASG, the Brewers face a crucial stretch of division opponents in the Pirates, Cardinals, and Reds. This could decide the fate of their season, and whether or not they can get back in contention. Let’s hope for the best.

> Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

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