Rookies back Burnes, power Crew to walk-off sweep

Wiemer slugs first career long ball, then Mitchell's clutch HR ends it

April 6th, 2023

MILWAUKEE -- Score another one for the new guys on another day Brewers ace didn’t have his best stuff.

Rookie cranked his first Major League home run and laid out for a diving catch in center field. Veteran hit line drives all day and came away with two doubles, including one that tied the game because another newcomer, unlikely speedster , stole a base. And , a Brewers rookie who got his first taste of the big leagues last September, crushed his first career walk-off home run leading off the bottom of the ninth inning for a 7-6 win over the Mets on Wednesday, completing the three-game sweep at American Family Field.

It was Mitchell’s third home run in two days and his second career walk-off hit against a New York powerhouse -- he singled last Sept. 16 to beat the Yankees. Wednesday’s game-winner came on the same day he graduated from MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 prospects list.

Now, if the Brewers, winners of five in a row, with at least seven runs in four straight games and just about everything going right with one week of regular-season baseball in the books, could just get their ace straightened out.

“That’s a huge series to sweep those guys, knowing that lineup and that team,” said Burnes of the Mets. “It was a great team series as far as scoring runs and not giving up runs. Everyone top to bottom in the bullpen and the rotation is throwing the ball well except me.

“For me, it’s time for me to step up and help these guys out instead of [them] having to carry me around.”

The Brewers have a lot of players doing the lifting, particularly the crop of rookies who starred in the Mets series. After Brice Turang hit a grand slam for his first career home run in Monday’s home opener and Mitchell homered in back-to-back innings in another shutout of the Mets on Tuesday, Wiemer and Mitchell shared some of the spotlight on Wednesday.

Wiemer did it at the plate and in the field, smashing a first-pitch three-run homer to give Burnes a 4-1 lead in the second inning -- “As Joey would say, that’s gas,” remarked Mitchell -- then making a diving catch in center field to rob Starling Marte in the fifth.

But Burnes let the lead get away. He surrendered a game-tying two-run homer to Mets slugger Pete Alonso in a three-run third inning and a go-ahead two-run homer to Alonso two batters after Wiemer’s catch in the fifth.

Through two starts, Burnes has a 9.64 ERA and none of the peripherals look as expected. He’s allowed 11 hits in 9 1/3 innings, has five walks against six strikeouts and has induced only 14 swings and misses in two games, including five on Wednesday. That's a career low for any of his starts that wasn't cut short by design at the end of a regular season. 

“Corbin's just a little off,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “I think it's very small; there are some things that happened today that were really good. … It's a little thing and we'll get it straightened out and we'll see Corbin Burnes.”

“It's probably a combination of a couple things, the stuff not being quite as sharp as we want early on in the year and the approach of the lineups we're facing," Burnes said. "It's one of those things you've got to dig in and know you're going to come out the other side of it.”

It was a team effort to send the Brewers to a sweep. Hoby Milner, Peter Strzelecki, Matt Bush and Devin Williams combined for 4 2/3 innings of hitless, scoreless relief to lower the Brewers’ bullpen ERA to 1.33 through 20 1/3 innings this season. Voit logged his second career stolen base ahead of Winker’s two-out, two-run double that tied the game at 6 in the fifth.

And then came Mitchell in the ninth, a mid-game replacement who’d struck out in his first at-bat on Wednesday. He showed bunt against Mets reliever Adam Ottavino, then worked into a full count before hitting a cutter over the right-field wall.

“You play some of these moments in your head,” Mitchell said. “You want to be up in those types of moments.”

When it was suggested to Wiemer that the Brewers’ rookies look so calm in the batter’s box, he laughed. 

If that’s not the case, they are doing a good job of hiding it. 

“We’re going out there and not only are we trying to play, but we’re trying to stay here,” Mitchell said. “Nothing’s ever guaranteed in this game. We’re working really hard, doing everything to the best of our abilities and doing it at a fast pace.”