Brewers go 3B, HR, HR on 3 pitches in victory
MILWAUKEE -- Three pitches, three batters, and another good night's sleep for Brewers hitting coach Darnell Coles.
Coles had been restless amid the Brewers' sluggish start at the plate, but scoring 20 runs in two games should help. After a 12-run outburst in Thursday's series opener against Miami, Christian Yelich, Ryan Braun and Travis Shaw connected for RBI hits on consecutive pitches in the fourth inning Friday to fuel Jhoulys Chacin's first Brewers win, 8-0 over the Marlins at Miller Park.
It was the Brewers' fourth straight victory. Three have been shutouts.
"I think everything is going to start getting together for us," Chacin said. "We know the offense we have."
That offense struck quickly against Marlins right-hander Trevor Richards. Lorenzo Cain extended the fourth inning with a two-out walk and Yelich hit the next pitch for an RBI triple before Braun and Shaw smashed back-to-back first-pitch home runs.
In a span of three pitches, all with two outs, a 1-0 Brewers lead had grown to 5-0. It would be 6-0 before the inning was over, and when the game was over, the Brewers had won consecutive games by at least an eight-run margin for the first time since July 31-Aug. 1, 2012.
That made things more comfortable for Chacin, who entered his fifth Brewers start with a 5.60 ERA but pitched six scoreless innings for the win. Dan Jennings, Taylor Williams and Oliver Drake completed the shutout, with Drake coming in with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth to engineer an escape.
Asked about the offense, Brewers manager Craig Counsell first praised the pitching.
"I don't mean to contradict you," Counsell said, "but I think it's important when we throw shutouts to [say] we pitched a heck of a game. The offense, again, we put pressure on the starting pitcher, and it started with Cain and Yelich and their at-bats."
Counsell's first five hitters -- Cain, Yelich, Braun, Shaw and Eric Thames -- combined to reach safely 16 times while scoring all eight runs. Those five also combined for seven of the Brewers' season-high eight walks. Cain, Yelich and Braun scored two runs apiece, while Shaw finished with three hits and two RBIs.
"[Cain's] at-bat in the fourth inning, it was two outs, nobody on. He's down in the count, two strikes, and he battles a walk," Counsell said. "All of a sudden, we've got a five-spot up here. We made it tough on the opposing guy."
Cain has been doing that a lot. With that walk, Cain, who was slowed during the Brewers' last road trip by a minor calf injury, had reached base in nine of his last 10 plate appearances.
Yelich reached safely in six straight plate appearances over the past two games before grounding out in his final at-bat Friday.
Before this series against the Marlins, Cain and Yelich had not been in the lineup together since April 3, the day Yelich exited with a right oblique injury that would land him on the disabled list.
"What two good hitters at the top of your lineup do to the other team, it makes it tough when you've got the middle-of-the-lineup guys coming up," Counsell said. "You sneak by once, or something like that, but they're going to get you eventually."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Back-to-back: Braun and Shaw teamed for the Brewers' third set of consecutive home runs this season, and second in as many nights. Braun has been involved in all three of them, and five of his first 13 hits this season cleared the fence. The last time the Brewers hit back-to-back home runs each on the first pitch was Sept. 1, 2014, at Wrigley Field, when Khris Davis and Gerardo Parra connected against the Cubs.
"I felt this since the Cincinnati series," said Shaw, who has reached safely four times in each of the last two games. "I was kind of waiting for it to finally happen. Tonight was a good night at the plate."
A good night took a scary turn for the Brewers in the eighth inning, when shortstop Orlando Arcia had to leave the game after turning his right ankle. X-rays were negative after Arcia rounded too far past first base and had to hustle in vain back to the bag. He was helped off the field by a member of Milwaukee's athletic training staff.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
An inning earlier, Arcia's speed was on display when he made a sensational over-the-shoulder catch in shallow right field to rob J.B. Shuck of a hit. Arcia made the catch at full speed with his left arm fully extended for the first out of Jennings' scoreless inning.
"The way he just plucked his glove out there, it was pretty incredible," Counsell said. "One of his better plays, for sure."
HE SAID IT
"We should be doing this, but at the same time you still have to go out there and win. What would you guys be saying if we lose these games?" -- Shaw, on the Brewers' wins coming against the last-place Reds and Marlins
Left-hander Brent Suter will be seeking his first quality start when he takes the mound Saturday at 6:10 p.m. CT for his fifth start of the season. There may be some added urgency for Suter (4.87 ERA) to perform, since the Brewers' other starting pitcher with options, Junior Guerra, has pitched beautifully in a pair of starts, and Wade Miley is returning to health in the Minor Leagues. Suter has never faced the Marlins.