The Brewers kicked off a six game road trip on Monday, facing the 10-7 Padres. A popular team this off-season for their free agency signings and trade pickups, the Padres were coming off a three game series with divisional rival, Los Angeles Dodgers, where they fell two games to one.
The Brewers, previously sitting atop the NL Central, tied with Cincinnati, lost the rubber match to Pittsburgh in extra innings, snapping a 4-series win streak.
Hopes of climbing back into the top spot of the NL Central were in the minds of the Brewers faithful, while overtaking the San Francisco Giants in second place in the NL West was the ultimate goal in this series for the Friars.
Game 1 – Brandon Woodruff vs. Joe Musgrove
A Familar Face, To Us Anyway
One may glance over this game and say, “Well, Joe Musgrove played in the NL Central for a while, so the Brewers must be pretty familiar with him.” Honestly, it makes sense. Joe Musgrove was part of that clearance sale the Pirates had in the offseason, after spending 3 seasons in Pittsburgh.
However, digging a little deeper, we’ll find the history isn’t quite as deep as one would think. In lifetime plate appearances, Brewers batters had faced Musgrove a total of 76 times coming into Monday’s opening salvo. Forty of those appearances belong to Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, and Kolten Wong: three men who would not suit up for the trip to San Diego due to a trifecta of IL stints. Only 28 plate appearances can be counted for the above lineup, in fact.
First baseman, Keston Hiura, has seen the most success against Musgrove. In 8 plate appearances, Hiura slashes .375/.444/.875, with 3 hits, including a HR and a two-bagger. After Keston, it gets much gloomier.
Joe Musgrove is just two games removed from pitching the San Diego Padres first ever no-hitter. We hoped the Brewers packed their lunch before the trip, because their work was cut out for them.
Musgrove wasted no time in the first inning, striking out Bradley Jr. and Avi Garcia, and inducing a groundout from Omar Narvaez, not in that order. We have gotten accustomed to faster starts from Milwaukee, but nothing doing early on this stanza.
Woodruff had to work a little harder, as the first two batters, Profar and Cronenworth, reached by walk and single respectively. Back to back groundouts settled Woodruff a bit, but not before Profar was able to score from third base. The final out of a frustrating inning was a frozen rope to 2B Jace Peterson, getting Woodruff, with his pitch count at 28, out of the fire. 1-0 Padres, after 1.
More of the same was shown by Joe Musgrove in the top of the 2nd inning, easily cruising past the heart of the Brewers order, including 5 pitches in a row, down and away, still resulting in a chased ball strikeout. A Billy McKinney strikeout ended the inning and Musgrove had the look of a pitcher planning on another long, efficient outing.
A different story was written by the Brewers’ ace in the bottom of the 2nd. Seemingly dialed in, placing pitches where he wanted them, Woodruff quickly disposed of the Padres opposition. A Wil Myers strikeout and a Tommy Pham ground out passed by the speed of sound, prefaced the Victor Caratini walk that followed. A full on fastball attack set up the final pitch of the inning as Woodruff pulled the string on opposing pitcher, Joe Musgrove for the strikeout. A much cleaner inning for Woodruff.
Huge thanks to Los Angeles Dodgers journalist Howard Cole, because immediately following this tweet, Luis Urias smoked a solo shot over the RF wall, tying the ballgame at 1 run apiece. I likely don’t need to remind you, Urias was the return from the Trent Grisham trade to San Diego. However, there was no time to stand on ceremony, as it took no time for Musgrove to get back in gear, striking out the remaining three hitters. Tie ballgame, 1-1, going into the bottom of the 3rd.
Note: Milwaukee commentary team made mention of a recently heard quote that Musgrove’s changeup “has more bite than a bucktoothed termite”. I thought you needed to know that.
Back around to the top of the San Diego batting order, Woodruff made good on the return matchups of Profar and Cronenworth with a pop out to right and a changup that fell off the table. I’m talking Thelma & Louise diving off into that canyon. The inning was a wrap after a Tatis Jr. pop out to center, and suddenly, a little bit of confidence that maybe the giant can be slain. END 3rd, 1-1
To hear my interview on the Nasty Nine Podcast with San Diego sports journalist, Dominic Stearn, previewing this series, simply hit play on the podcast player below…
This Week in Brewers Baseball May 14, 2021 – The Nasty Nine Podcast
Without a doubt, Musgrove was dialed in by the beginning of the 4th inning. He had faced one batter above the minimum, thanks to the Urias HR, but finished the inning with 8 K’s. Avi Garcia chased a monster of a slider/cutter/something from the underworld before Shaw would pop out to the infield. Just think, Musgrove is the number 4 starter for San Diego.
As noted by Todd Rosiak, Luis Urias would leave the game with an injury, undisclosed at this time. Brewers are getting thinner and thinner at multiple position player spots.
Woodruff, flashing all his weapons through the game, easily dispatching the Padres big guns, Machado and Hosmer, before walking Wil Myers on a questionable, but not ridiculous call by the home plate umpire. Proving his value with more than just a bat, Travis Shaw stabbed a hot shot to the hot corner to end the inning. I shudder to think where the Brewers would have been without this re-signing. END 4th, 1-1
The top of the 5th brought us yet another Keston Hiura strikeout, which normally would be a cause for some concern. However, Joe Musgrove, at this point on his 9th strikeout, has been dealing impossible cards. Who is he NOT striking out? I’ll tell you who. The best first name in baseball, Billy McKinney! A solo shot, over the RF wall, his first of the year and first since 2019 in a Blue Jays uniform put the Brewers up 2-1. Inning ends on an awkward foul ball turned fair ball at the catcher’s feet.
With the pitch count not completely out of hand, considering that rough 1st inning, Woodruff came out for the 5th inning to strike out the side. A mental note I had during this inning was that the Brewers seem to survive on the HR. Both runs scored tonight were on the HR ball. I just wonder, if we take away all teams’ HRs, and runs scored as a result, how often would the Brewers win? Question for another day, but I’d venture to say very few. We need to be able to play small ball and get runners at the stations. This is a big issue in my mind. END 5th, 2-1 Brewers
With opposing pitcher, Brandon Woodruff at the plate, Joe Musgrove recorded his 11th strikeout of the game, a career best, on only 65 pitches or so. Feeding the Brewers a healthy serving of breaking pitches, Musgrove had proven nearly unhittable. That being said, Omar Narvaez, the Brewers best hitter by the eyes of many, slapped one to the LF corner for a standup double, bringing up Avisail Garcia.
Let it be known, this inning was the first for Musgrove to pitch out of the stretch. With the count at 3-0, Musgrove was able to work the count full, but lost Garcia for his first walk of the night. The lefty batter, Travis Shaw, in the batters box, set the table for the Brewers most meaningful plate appearance of the night. Sadly, as mentioned above, if it’s not a home run, it’s not working. Brewers leave a runner in scoring position, as they do, and the top half of the inning goes for naught.
Approaching 90 pitches, Woodruff took the mound for the 6th and his final inning. It would be a 1-2-3 inning as Cronenworth and Machado would pop out for the first and third outs, while Tatis Jr. would strikeout for the second. There is something to be said of a pitcher like Brandon Woodruff to have the rocky beginning, giving up the run in the 1st, then dialing everything in to have an outing like this one. The final line on Woodruff would be 6IP, 1H, 1ER, 3BB, 7K. Isn’t it great to have two aces? END 6th, 2-1 Brewers
A breath of fresh air is a Keston Hiura single late in the game, especially against a pitcher like Musgrove, and double especially on a night where no one is getting on. Nothing would come of it, however, as Musgrove never stopped dealing, Adding some strikeouts to his total, the inning would end on a Jace Peterson strikeout.
Brewers reliever J.P. Feyereisen would assume pitching duties in attempt to hold this high octane Padres offense. Still yet to give up a run in the 2021 season, Feyereisen has seen himself in different relief roles. This time, he would be called upon to hold strong in a critical inning against San Diego’s finest. Two groundballs induced against Myers and Hosmer would have Feyereisen poised to end the inning strong.
With Tommy Pham at the dish, J.P. would lose the speedy Pham on 4 balls, to await switch hitter Victor Caratini. For dramatic effect, I must tell you that former Brewer Trent Grisham was on deck at the time of this AB. Even more dramatic was the following pitch, as Tommy Pham attempted to steal 2nd, he was quickly gunned down by the ever improving Omar Narvaez to end the 7th. END 7th, 2-1 Brewers
Enter Tyrone Taylor……home run, dead center, off of newly placed RP Drew Pomeranz. Yet another solo shot, and the top of the 8th was off and running. Pomeranz, a veteran of the game, settled down a bit and quickly retired the next two hitters before losing Avisail Garcia on 4 balls. Unfortunately, the inning would end quietly, no further damage done.
Brent Suter on top pitch for the Brew Crew, which is enough to scare the casual fan away from the TV. Suter has struggled, and it’s no secret. Poetically, all’s well that ends well, and all ended well. After allowing a base hit to the leadoff man, Suter takes matters into his own hands, catches a popped up attempted bunt from Jorge Mateo, the induces a double play to get through the inning without a hitch.
Nick Ramirez, converted position player, on to pitch for San Diego: Josh Hader warming up in the Brewers pen looking for a save opportunity. Ramirez baited three groundballs out of all three batters he faced in the top half of the inning, ending the Brewers chances to get a little more insurance for the oncoming Hader.
Josh Hader on to pitch with Cronenworth, Tatis Jr., and Machado on the slate. RIP fingernails. Cronenworth led off with loud contact, only to see the ball fall into the glove of the Brewers right fielder. Tatis, working the count well, would work Hader to 3-0 before an outside fastball for a called strike. On the very next pitch, Tatis would hold strong to watch a ball go into the dirt, drawing the walk..
Batting cleanup, Manny Machado would dig into the box to see the count work into his favor as well, starting off 2-0. A 95 mph fastball would follow and then another to even the count. Classic slider count for Hader, but Manny wouldn’t bite on the ball in the dirt. Full count. Hader would finally get his swing and miss out of the All-Star slugger, Machado.
Eric Hosmer to the plate represented the tying run, but would ground out weakly to 1B Keston Hiura, and the Brewers would close it out in stressful fashion taking game 1 from the Friars.
- We can’t continue to depend on the home run
- Brandon Woodruff will be a Cy Young finalist once again at this rate
- Brewers are missing 3 former All-Stars from the lineup, there is probably nothing to worry about
- Musgrove matched a career high in Ks in this game. Strikeouts continue to be a problem for this team