After four days off for the All-Star Game festivities, the second half of the Major League Baseball season is here. While it was only four games, both the Brewers and Marlins offenses were sluggish out of the gate.
It was a pitching dual through the first three innings with both pitchers only surrendering three hits apiece. The Brewers had an opportunity to score in the bottom of the first inning. With one out, Jean Segura started the inning with an infield base hit. Ryan Braun then came to the plate, only to popup to shortstop, Adeiny Hechavarria for the second out of the inning. Jonathon Lucroy drew a walk, and then the Brewers perfected a double steal, with Segura making it to third and Lucroy taking second. With two outs in the inning, the Brewers tried to get on top early, but All-Star Carlos Gomez grounded out to third, to end the threat.
The Miami Marlins would come back in the top of the second inning to get two, two out base hits, only to strand the runners on first and second. Jeff Bianchi of the Brewers did get a base hit to left with two outs in the bottom of the inning, but would remain at first to end the second.
In the third, the Miami Marlins went a quiet 1-2-3, with Kyle Lohse striking out two batters. Norichika Aoki did his job for the Brewers by leading off the inning with a base on balls. The Brewers tried to rally again with two men out, when Lucroy singled to center, but they failed to score after the lead of walk.
For a second consecutive inning, the Marlins went down in order, and it was not until the Brewers came up when we would finally saw some scoring. Leading off in the bottom of the fourth inning, Juan Francisco broke the zero, zero tie by hitting an opposite field homerun off Justin Turner, his 12th of the season. Rickie Weeks then followed with a walk, and would steal second base with one out recorded by Bianchi. Pitcher, Kyle Lohse then hit a weak foul ball right to the third basemen, Polacido Polanco, for the second out. Aoki would then walk for a second consecutive at-bat, but Jean Segura grounded out to end the scoring threat.
Kyle Lohse was cruising threw the first four innings, keeping the Marlins bats relatively quiet. Lohse would get into some trouble early in the fifth when Hechavarria would single to right, and advance to second on a rare error by Aoki. After his hit, Lohse would not allow him to score, striking out two and getting pitcher Justin Turner to hit a weak ground ball to shortstop. The Brewers were finally able to do some damage with two outs in the inning, with Carlos Gomez crushing a ball down the left field line for his 15th homerun of the season. This gave the Brewers a 2-0 lead after five.
Logan Morrison hit a two out double in the top of the sixth inning, but the Marlins failed to continue the two out rally. Rickie Weeks did lead of the bottom of the frame by reaching on a hit by pitch for the Brewers. The Marlins then made a pithing change by bringing in right-hander Ryan Webb for Justin Turner. Webb would finish off the inning by pitching a clean sixth, to keep the score at 2-0 Brewers.
Kyle Lohse’s night was over. After six strong innings of shut out baseball, John Axford came in out of the bullpen in relief. It would be a quiet game the rest of the way, with both teams using two more relief pitchers each to get the job done. Francisco Rodriguez closed it out in the ninth inning to record his 10th save of the season, giving the Brewers the win, and improving their record to 39-56. Kyle Lohse would pick up the win with Justin Turner being saddled with the loss. The final score was the Brewers two and the Marlins zero.
As Ron Roenicke would say after the game, “We played good baseball tonight, we pitched well, got a couple of base hits, defensively I thought we played a nice job, but whether we get back to .500 or not, we have to really play well there is no doubt about it, we have to play really good baseball…”
The Brewers pitching staff pitched nine strong innings of shut out baseball, and helped the Brewers start off the second half of the season on a positive note. The usual stars did not lead the offense with Aramis Ramirez on the disabled list and Ryan Braun going zero for three, instead Carlos Gomez and Juan Francisco’s homeruns made the difference in tonight’s game. Time will tell if the Brewers can get back to .500 ball, but tonight they started off on the right foot, with their excellent pitching and solid offensive performance.