MILWAUKEE -- Zach Davies, Chase Anderson and Jhoulys Chacin did little in the Brewers' first series at home to quell concerns about this starting rotation.Including Chacin's 6-0 loss to Carlos Martinez and the Cardinals on Wednesday night at Miller Park, the trio combined to surrender 17 runs (13 earned) in
MILWAUKEE -- Zach Davies, Chase Anderson and Jhoulys Chacin did little in the Brewers' first series at home to quell concerns about this starting rotation.
Including Chacin's 6-0 loss to Carlos Martinez and the Cardinals on Wednesday night at Miller Park, the trio combined to surrender 17 runs (13 earned) in 15 1/3 innings on 23 hits, including five home runs. It's up to left-hander Brent Suter to reverse those fortunes when the Cubs come to Miller Park for the first of four games on Thursday night.
"Our starters didn't pitch well this series. Certainly, we need better efforts from them to be a consistently winning team," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. "But it's one time around here. One series."
Counsell noted that the Brewers' bullpen has been "dynamite," and that continued with 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Chacin. Signed to a two-year free-agent deal in December, Chacin has a 7.00 ERA after two starts.
Three Brewers errors behind Chacin didn't help, nor did the matchup against Martinez, who came within a ninth-inning bobble by Cardinals third baseman Yairo Munoz on a potential game-ending double-play grounder of pitching the National League's first shutout. Martinez settled for 8 1/3 scoreless innings, in which he scattered four singles and two walks while logging 10 strikeouts.
"I'm disappointed with my first two starts this year, but I won't put my head down," Chacin said. "I'm going to keep working on my pitches. I have to face the same guys in five days, so I'm going to try to do better."
His slider was better against the Cardinals than five days earlier against the Padres. That's an important pitch for Chacin.
Davies and Anderson, too, were searching for positives. Davies was charged with seven runs (six earned) in 5 2/3 innings during the Brewers' home opener, and Anderson followed by allowing three home runs in a four-inning start on Tuesday. The Brewers were a strike away from losing that game before Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun saved the day with back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the ninth.
"It's probably one of the worst games to go out there and not have your stuff and kind of give it up," said Davies of losing the home opener.
Said Anderson the next night: "I really didn't have much today. I didn't have any fastball command at all."
Martinez had the same problem in his 2018 debut, a six-walk outing against the Mets in New York, but he was a different pitcher on Wednesday. He retired 16 consecutive batters in one stretch from the second inning into the seventh.
The teams won't have to wait long to meet again. They are scheduled to play a three-game series at Busch Stadium beginning Monday. Chacin will pitch that series opener; Martinez is scheduled to start for St. Louis the next night.
"When a guy like Martinez is pitching, you know you have to pitch better and you have to keep the score low if you want to beat him," Chacin said. "After he got going, he was making pitches. He's definitely one of the best pitchers in the league for the last three or four years. You have to put pressure on him."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Martinez takes over: Counsell and his coaches talk often about the urgency of getting to top pitchers early in games, and they had chances against Martinez. The Cardinals' lead was 1-0 when Martinez hit Domingo Santana with a pitch leading off the second inning and Jonathan Villar followed with a single. That's when Martinez locked in. He retired Manny Pina on a sharp flyout to center field, then struck out Eric Sogard in an eight-pitch battle and whiffed Chacin after the runners each advanced a base. Those three outs started Martinez's run of 16 batters retired in a row, which finally ended when Santana grounded a single past shortstop with one out in the seventh inning.
"Who knows if I was able to get the job done there, if it would have worked out otherwise?" Sogard said. "He really seemed to turn it on after that."
Did Sogard lament any missed opportunities during his long battle with Martinez?
"Honestly, no," Sogard said. "I went back and looked at it and he was hitting his corners really well. I did my best to put it in play."
Brewers get sloppy: The Brewers overcame a 4-0 deficit just 24 hours earlier, so the Cardinals' 4-0 lead did not feel safe Wednesday until they pulled away with help from a pair of Brewers errors in the sixth. Marcell Ozuna, who has gone 7-for-18 over the past four games including two more hits Wednesday, led off with a single and took second on left fielder Yelich's first error of the season. Two batters later, Ozuna scored on Molina's sacrifice fly, as Yelich made the catch with a slide in foul ground.
The Cardinals added another run on a two-out error by Villar, his second of the game, to make it a 6-0 advantage.
"There's no grand takeaways. We got beat tonight, and a guy pitched a great game against us, so now we have to move on. We're in good shape. The one thing Chacin did is get us a little deeper into the game, so our bullpen is in good shape for [Thursday against the Cubs]. We'll be ready to go." -- Counsell, on the home-opening series
Yelich is likely to miss the first Brewers-Cubs matchup of the season on Thursday after he exited in the seventh inning with discomfort in his right oblique. Yelich, who said the issue was unrelated to his sixth-inning catch in foul ground, said he was not initially scheduled to undergo an MRI.
"Just a precautionary thing, make sure it doesn't turn into something bigger," he said. More >
The Cubs come to town Thursday for the start of a four-game series, with lefties Jonathan Lester and Suter slated to start the 7:10 p.m. CT opener. When these teams last met, they played an epic four-game series at Miller Park in the thick of a pennant race, with the first three games going 10 innings. The Cubs took three of four in the series to dash the Brewers' division hopes.
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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.