Six-run inning gives Peralta first win of 2016

April 25, 2016

RECAP

> Granted it was against a pretty weak lineup, Wily Peralta finally picked up his first win of 2016 in the Brewers’ 8-5 win over Philadelphia, and may have made some strides to turn around his season.

He was helped by an offensive explosion from the Brewers offense in the bottom of the sixth inning. Up until then, Jerad Eickhoff (1-3, 4.07 ERA) had shown the Brewers why he had a sub-2.00 ERA coming into the start; he was dominant other than a two-run fourth inning that included a Ryan Braun home run. However, things completely unraveled for him in the sixth. The Phillies had just given him a two-run lead in the top of the inning thanks to back-to-back RBI doubles from Cameron Rupp and Cesar Hernandez, but even that could not save him from the Brewers rally that would ensue. Scooter Gennett led off the inning with a solo home run. Braun and Chris Carter then hit a single and double, respectively, to set the stage for a two-run double from Kirk Nieuwenhuis, which gave the Brewers a lead they would not lose. However, they weren’t done: two batters later, Jonathan Villar drove in Nieuwenhuis with a double of his own. That would be all for Eickhoff, but the rally continued following his departure. Pinch-hitter Alex Presley, just recalled from Triple-A on Thursday, greeted Phillies reliever Hector Neris with a two-run blast on the first pitch he saw.

After a rough outing last night in which he gave up three runs to put the game out of reach for the Brewers, Jeremy Jeffress rebounded today and notched the save, his sixth of the year.

> Peralta (1-3, 7.40 ERA) wasn’t spectacular by any means, but given the quality of his work so far this year, this was by far his best start. He completed six innings for the first time while allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits, his first quality start of the year and just the Brewers’ fifth overall. Peralta didn’t walk a batter and struck out five in the win.

Eickhoff, who was rolling through the first five innings, saw his beautiful 1.89 ERA coming in climb all the way to 4.07 thanks to his disaster sixth inning. He lasted 5 1/3 while giving up seven runs on nine hits. He didn’t allow a walk and struck out seven.

NEWS

> Will Smith did some throwing in the outfield this morning prior to the game, which is a good sign. His recovery from a torn LCL– a ligament in the knee– towards the end of spring training is still in its early stages, though it’s good to see he’s starting a throwing program of some sort. Smith isn’t expected to return until late May or early June at the earliest.

> The All-Star Game ballot opened today. The Brewers starters on the ballot are Jonathan Lucroy (catcher), Carter (first base), Gennett (second base), Aaron Hill (third base), Villar (shortstop), Braun (outfield), Ramon Flores (outfield), and Domingo Santana (outfield), though fans can write in players who aren’t on the ballot as starters.

STATS

> Braun’s home run was his fifth of the year, tying him for the team lead with Carter.

> Gennett’s blast was his fourth of the season. He isn’t hitting for a great average– it’s sitting at just .258 at the moment– but he has quietly shown some pop early on this season, continuing what he did in spring training.

EXTRAS

> Here’s an interesting tidbit regarding Eickhoff: he has some ties to Wisconsin. He played his college ball at Olney Central College in Olney, Ill., but during the summer of 2010, Eickhoff pitched for the Wisconsin Woodchucks, a Northwoods team based in Wausau, Wis.

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Brewers outslugged in third straight loss

April 24, 2016

RECAP

> It was an ugly night for the Brewers pitching staff on Saturday when they fell to the Phillies, 10-6. It was clear from the first batter of the game that Chase Anderson (1-2, 4.50 ERA) was going to have a long night, and even though he battled, Philadelphia’s lineup drove up his pitch count too much early on, which was his downfall.

For the second night in a row, the Brewers struck first blood, as Jonathan Lucroy’s RBI single in the first inning gave the Brewers an early lead. The Phillies retaliated with three runs in the top of the third, but Milwaukee quickly answered back in the bottom of the third against lefty Brett Oberholtzer. Jonathan Villar worked an eight-pitch walk to lead off the inning, and then, two batters later, Ryan Braun hit his fourth home run of the season, a rope to left field to tie the game 3-3. After another Lucroy single and Chris Carter’s double, Domingo Santana gave the Brewers the lead with an RBI fielder’s choice.

However, the Phillies posted another three-run inning in the third: Cesar Hernandez led off with a walk, Odubel Herrera followed with a single, and then Maikel Franco hit his third home run in two games to give the Phils a lead the would not relinquish. Franco continued to be a thorn in the Brewers’ side, driving in a run with a single in the sixth inning.

Down 7-4 in the eighth, the Brewers rallied and appeared prime for a comeback. Carter led off the inning with a solo shot– his team-leading fifth of the year– off reliever Dalier Hinojosa. Milwaukee would get one more in the inning on Aaron Hill’s sacrifice fly, leaving the Brewers down by one heading into the ninth. Jeremy Jeffress was tasked with holding the Phillies down to set the stage for a comeback in the bottom of the inning, but he was unable to do so: he allowed an RBI double to Hernandez and then a two-run blast to Herrera to put the game out of reach.

> Anderson by no means performed well on this night, but he was victim to some bad luck, especially during the Phillies’ three-run third inning. He walked Herrera to lead off the inning, but then induced back-to-pack pop-ups from Freddy Galvis and Franco and appeared to have a way out without allowing a run. Anderson had the next batter, Ryan Howard, in a 2-2 count and threw what appeared to be a decent pitch, a curveball low and outside. Howard tried to check his swing but couldn’t completely and blooped the ball in the air towards third base. Unfortunately, it was somehow too far over the shortstop Villar’s head (Villar was the only one on the left side of the infield due to the shift) and fell into no man’s land between Villar and the left fielder Braun, resulting in a game-tying RBI single for Howard.

Darin Ruf followed him with the most well-struck ball of the inning, a line drive to right center for a single. Carlos Ruiz then hit a soft ground ball down the right field line for another RBI single; had the first baseman Carter been in his normal position, he probably would have fielded it with ease, but for whatever reason he was playing way off the line. Tyler Goeddel was next in line, and he hit– you guessed it– a bloop RBI single over the head of second baseman Scooter Gennett.

So, in essence, Anderson gave up three runs on four hits in the inning, but it’s not like the Phillies were spraying extra-base hits all over the field. Just one of the four hits– Ruf’s single– was well-struck, and the rest were just poor luck for Anderson.

As a result, Anderson’s line was not pretty: he needed 99 pitches to make it through just four innings. He allowed six runs on eight hits while walking four– uncharacteristically high for him– and striking out two.

> Phillies starter Charlie Morton (1-1, 4.15 ERA), a name Brewers fans might recognize from his days with the Pirates, didn’t factor in the decision. He left the game in the top of the second after pulling a muscle and tripping on his way to first; the initial diagnosis was a hamstring strain. Morton threw just one inning in the game, giving up a run on three hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out three.

NEWS

> Matt Garza is making strides as he hopes to return from the disabled list earlier than anticipated. He’s been taking batting practice with the team for the last few days, and hopes to start throwing within the next week. Garza was placed on the disabled list shortly after spring training ended with a right lat strain.

> The Brewers recalled outfielder Alex Presley from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Thursday. He was off to a hot start with the Sky Sox, hitting .381 over 34 plate appearances. Presley could compete with Kirk Nieuwenheis and Ramon Flores for the center field job, which is still up for grabs after opening day center fielder Keon Broxton was optioned last week.

In a corresponding move, reliever Tyler Cravy was optioned to Triple-A. Cravy had allowed two runs over 5 2/3 innings (3.18 ERA) so far this season. Right-hander Zack Jones was transferred to the 60-day DL to make room for Presley on the 40-man roster.

STATS

> As Anderson was unable to post a quality start today, the Brewers remain stuck at just four quality starts on the season, which is 29th in the majors. Jimmy Nelson has three of the Brewers’ four quality starts, which were his starts against the Giants (two runs in 7 1/3 innings), Astros (two runs in 6+ innings), and Pirates (three runs in 6+ innings). The other one was Anderson’s start against the Cardinals (three runs in six innings).

The quality start– defined as the starting pitcher going at least six innings and allowing no more than three earned runs– is definitely an overrated and useless stat, but it is alarming that the Brewers only have four at this point in the season. The Brewers have had some other good starts, such as Taylor Jungmann’s first start of the season (one earned run in five innings against the Giants) and Anderson’s first start (five shutout innings against Houston), but both failed to complete the six-inning minimum.

> Franco’s average was .241 coming into this series; he has brought it up to .299 in two games.

> Lucroy extended his hitting streak to eight games.

> The runs Jeffress allowed in the ninth were the first runs he has given up all season.

> Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda, living up to and possibly surpassing the high expectations set for him, is off to a crazy start: he’s allowed just one earned run over his first four starts. That is the lowest total any pitcher has ever given up over his first four starts in the history of the game (minimum 20 innings pitched).

> The Brewers will look to avoid being swept by Philadelphia tomorrow at 1:10 p.m. CT. They’ll send the struggling Wily Peralta (0-3, 8.35 ERA) to the mound, who is still in search of his first win; he’ll also hope to bring his ERA down to a more respectable digit. The Phillies will counter with Jerad Eickhoff (1-2, 1.89 ERA), who has actually been spectacular this season, but has just one win to show for it. Peralta is 2-2 with a 6.17 ERA in his career against the Phillies, while Eickhoff has never faced the Brewers.