Notes: Sánchez flying high; Peralta on Cubs

June 27th, 2021

MILWAUKEE -- To understand why so many of his teammates lean just a little further over the top rail of the dugout during the first three appearances of ’s Major League career over the past week, it requires understanding the 27-year-old right-hander’s unique backstory.

Sánchez didn’t get an offer to sign out of the Dominican Republic until he was 21 years old in 2015 -- technically, he signed with the Brewers at 22 in January ’16 -- which is much later than the vast majority of international signees. When he didn’t get any offers like the other 16- and 17- and 18-year-olds, Sánchez took a job as a security guard at a bar in his hometown of Los Arroces. He nearly gave up baseball before a coach convinced Sánchez to join the Dominican Air Force, not to fly planes but to play in a military amateur league that often represents players’ last best chance to catch the eye of scouts. Again, Sánchez worked security when he wasn’t patrolling the pitcher’s mound.

It worked. The Brewers liked what they saw and signed Sánchez for $6,000. By the time he compensated his agent and gave some money to his parents, Sánchez was left with almost nothing, and he faced exceptionally long odds as a 22-year-old just beginning a pro career at the Brewers’ academy in the D.R.

But Sánchez opened eyes when he excelled during an emergency assignment to Class A Wisconsin late in the 2016 season, and he subsequently got experience pitching in three years of big league Spring Training games for manager Craig Counsell and the Brewers. Last week, after throwing strikes all season for Triple-A Nashville, Sánchez found himself in the Majors. He pitched the eighth inning of the Brewers’ 5-0 win over the D-backs on Tuesday in his Major League debut.

“It was something beautiful,” Sánchez said. “You fight hard and you work hard to get to this moment, and I'm just very thankful the team gave me the opportunity and I was able to pitch tonight."

Of the dugout support, he said, “They know what I've been through, they know what I can do. They know how much work I've put into it. So, it's very emotional when you have their support.”

Teammates have given him a nickname that harkens back to his days in the D.R.: El Guardia. The Guard.

Counsell referred to Sánchez as “unflappable,” and two scoreless appearances have followed. After the Brewers emphatically broke a tie by scoring six runs in the eighth inning against the Rockies on Saturday, Sánchez closed out the victory.

“That doesn’t mean he’s going to throw up zeros every time out, but I do think he knows himself very well. He’s comfortable in his own skin,” Counsell said. “I’d also say that that was as happy a bench coming off for him as I’ve seen. Miguel is very well-liked in this organization.”

Said fellow Dominican righty : “I feel so proud for him, man, the way he’s coming. I know what’s been happening in his life and all that. I felt really good, really happy when I got the news he was coming up to make his debut. Then look -- today he pitched and made his three outs. I hope he stays for a while here.”

Cubs on deck

American Family Field is back to 100 percent capacity but more seats than usual are still available for this week’s three-game series against the Cubs from Monday-Wednesday. Peralta said he is fired up to pitch the series opener on Monday night between the two teams atop the National League Central.

The Brewers have won six of the first nine matchups between the teams in 2021.

“All the series that we play against them, it’s always with high intensity. Everybody can see that,” Peralta said. “But this one is going to be really important for us. We are heading to the half of the season, and we are in a good spot right now and they are behind us. We’ve got to win this one and see what happens after that.”

Peralta has already started three times against the Cubs in 2021, but it has been a while. All three of those outings were in April, when the Brewers and Cubs met for a trio of three-game series. Peralta is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA over 15 innings against Chicago this year.

“I’ve been doing adjustments all the time that I face them,” Peralta said. “Right now, I’m trying to see what’s going to be our best plan for facing them and see what we can do, talk with my catcher and pitching coach and find the best way to pitch them. All I’m going to try to do is compete and see what happens. ‘Read the swing’ is what I do all the time, and the moment’s going to tell me what I have to do, as always.”

As for having fans back in the stands in larger numbers, Peralta said, “Great, man. Great. The energy that the fans bring is different. It’s a lot. You can see that we play better when we have all the fans. It’s better. The intensity is really, really good.”

Last call

• Kolten Wong sat out Sunday’s series finale against the Rockies as expected after experiencing tightness in his left calf on Saturday. He was getting treatment all morning in an effort to be ready for Monday’s series opener against Chicago.

“When he’s on defense, always something happens,” Peralta said. “He’s hitting really good, too. But, you know, sometimes it’s going to happen. We’re not going to have the players that we sometimes want to have in the lineup for some reason. My wish is that he plays every game, but sometimes he’s not going to be in the lineup.”

• Down in Triple-A Nashville, Josh Lindblom threw a season high 5 1/3 innings on Saturday allowing a run on five hits and a walk with four strikeouts. In his first seven appearances (five starts) for the Sounds, Lindblom is 2-0 with a 0.73 ERA (24 2/3 innings, two earned runs).