Woodruff, Adames heating up as Brewers make push

September 18th, 2022

MILWAUKEE -- Brandon Woodruff is finishing strong. Willy Adames is finishing strong. And the Brewers are trying to do the same as they chase the National League’s Wild Card field.

Adames hit another three-run shot for his 30th home run, and Woodruff delivered a season-best eight innings of one-run ball in the Brewers’ 4-1 win over the Yankees on Saturday with many of the 41,210 fans at American Family Field pulling for another late-season surge.

“I love this time of year,” Woodruff said. “I love September baseball. I love games that really mean something, and obviously, the Yankees coming into town, there’s always that buzz with them. It was fun. They’ve got a great lineup. It’s just fun this time of year.

“I love this baseball. I love playoff baseball, and hopefully, we can keep stringing together some wins and get in, and you never know what can happen.”

Woodruff was part of the Brewers’ September winning sprees in 2018 and ‘19, and now, they are trying to do it again. Milwaukee has won seven of its last nine games but trails the Phillies by two games and the Padres by 1 1/2 games for the NL’s final two postseason berths. The Phillies and Padres also own the tiebreaker over the Brewers, meaning Milwaukee must not only catch one of those clubs in the standings, but push ahead.

“We can’t focus on them,” Woodruff said. “We’ve just got to come in and we’ve got to focus on winning each day and worrying about the guys in here and see where that takes us. We’re not blind to what’s going on, but we try to focus on each other and trying to win a baseball game.”

This game followed the Brewers’ script for so many 2022 victories: Hit a home run with men on base and then hang on with pitching. Adames put his team on the board with a three-run homer for the second straight day, making Milwaukee the second MLB team to have a pair of teammates with at least 30 home runs this season (Rowdy Tellez is the other), alongside the Yankees (Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo), and giving Adames a franchise record. He’s hit all 30 of his homers while playing shortstop and said “it meant the world” to pass Robin Yount, who set the Brewers’ standard with 29 home runs at shortstop in 1982.

Woodruff took things from there, becoming more efficient inning over inning. He was at 48 pitches after three innings and 79 pitches after five, but then threw a seven-pitch sixth inning to earn a five-pitch seventh, which earned a 10-pitch eighth, when Woodruff struck out Giancarlo Stanton for the fourth time in a scoreless frame.

Woodruff’s final line: Eight innings, five hits, one earned run, one walk and 10 strikeouts. It was the first time he pitched into the eighth inning this season and the fifth time he reached double-digit strikeouts. Devin Williams then breezed through the ninth inning for the save.

“[The Yankees] got aggressive, and that’s just a sign of quality stuff,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Hitters are going to attack the first thing they see rather than try to wait him out. That’s a function of throwing a lot of strikes, quality strikes. And he was doing that all night.”

The outing continued a stretch of solid starts. Woodruff is 6-1 with a 2.55 ERA in 15 starts since returning from a midseason stint on the injured list, and he has limited the Rockies, the Reds and the Yankees to four earned runs on 12 hits in 21 innings over his last three starts. In those last three outings, Woodruff has walked four batters versus 26 strikeouts.

Adames, too, is finishing strong. He’s hitting .303 with seven home runs and 25 RBIs over his last 27 games and .379 (11-for-29) with four homers and 13 RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak. He’s been disappointed with his sub-.300 on-base percentage for much of this season, but it’s now up to .301.

“I just feel like the timing is right,” Adames said. “I feel like whenever you’re struggling, maybe the timing is not right. Right now, I feel good at the plate. Hopefully, we can continue to do that and we can keep winning games.”

Was 30 home runs ever a goal of his?

“I feel like everybody wants to hit 30. I would be lying to you if I said no,” Adames said. “Hopefully, it’s not the last one [this year] or the last year I hit 30. We’re going to continue to work and try to be better every year.” 

This year, the Brewers aren’t finished. 

“I’m just enjoying this month and seeing where it takes us,” Woodruff said.