Surging Woodruff, Crew won't let finale loss get them down

September 18th, 2023

MILWAUKEE -- has been his typical strong self since returning from the injured list last month, but suffice it to say, he’s been on another level in September.

Woodruff threw six innings in the Brewers’ 11-inning, 2-1 loss to the Nationals on Sunday afternoon at American Family Field, allowing one run on three hits with zero walks compared to six strikeouts.

Woodruff’s outing came on the heels of his first career shutout Monday vs. the Marlins. He now has a 0.41 ERA (one earned run in 22 innings) and a 0.64 WHIP with 19 strikeouts and three walks in three starts this month.

  • Games remaining (13): at STL (4), at MIA (3), vs. STL (3), vs. CHC (3)
  • Standings update: The Brewers (84-65) hold a 6 1/2-game lead over the Cubs (78-72) for first place in the National League Central, with Chicago losing to Arizona on Sunday night. Milwaukee is the third-best division leader, meaning it would host a best-of-three NL Wild Card Series against the final Wild Card entrant starting on Oct. 3.
  • Magic number: The Brewers' magic number over the Cubs to clinch the NL Central is seven.

“I'm in a good spot,” Woodruff said. “But my main focus is just trying to go out and try to win baseball games. That's it. That's what this time of the year is all about, is trying to win baseball games.

“That’s all my focus is -- to go out there and try to give the team a chance to win and just let that be it.”

Woodruff did that Sunday, giving the Brewers length while largely keeping at bay a Washington lineup that battled. He threw 106 pitches -- as many as he threw against the Marlins -- and the Nationals fouled off 31 of them.

The Nationals got on the board first on a solo homer by second baseman Luis García in the second inning. Woodruff retired 13 of the next 15 hitters he faced to put a bow on his afternoon.

“Woody had a good day. He threw the ball well,” manager Craig Counsell said. “They fouled off a ton of pitches, unfortunately, and that drove up the pitch count. But [he went] six really solid innings and definitely pitched wonderfully and gave us a chance to win.”

Said Woodruff: “I didn’t feel like I had the rhythm in my delivery like I did the past few times out. But I was able to make some pitches when I needed to. They're an aggressive team, but they also go into battle mode when they get to two strikes. So it was kind of tough to strike guys out, and they did a good job of having long at-bats and working the pitch count.”

In 10 starts this season, Woodruff has a 1.89 ERA and a 0.76 WHIP in 62 innings.

The Brewers had a few late chances to snap a 1-1 tie after Nationals starter Patrick Corbin’s six innings of one-run ball, but they were unable to break through. The Crew finished 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

Milwaukee put two on with one out in the ninth inning and did not score. In the 10th, Andruw Monasterio started as the automatic runner at second base and advanced to third on a Victor Caratini line-drive single past García.

Off the bat, it appeared that Monasterio had a chance to score. But his first step was back toward the second-base bag, and he headed to third as the ball cleared the infield.

“It's a tough read,” Counsell said. “If [García] catches it [and] you go, it's a double play. He thought there was a chance to catch it, so he played it safe, and that's it. You just get one base there.”

Milwaukee couldn't score that inning despite loading the bases with one out. Washington took the lead in the 11th on a sacrifice fly and hung on, turning an alert double play to end the game after the Brewers put runners on first and third with one out in the bottom of the frame.

The loss snapped the Brewers’ three-game winning streak, but in going 5-2 on their homestand, they moved closer to securing the NL Central title.

The job is not done, but the club is in a good position entering a seven-game road trip that begins Monday with four games in St. Louis.

“I think we played solid baseball. The game doesn't go your way every day,” Counsell said. “Some of the breaks don't go your way every day, and the other teams are trying to beat you. But we went 5-2, and that’s work well done.”

Said Woodruff: “There’s no chance this team is going to get down [because of] today. It was a good baseball game we didn't win. We had a good home series and home stretch here, and now we'll hit the road, and we're in a good spot.

“We'll just keep playing good baseball and see where we're at in a couple of weeks.”