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Woodruff goes on attack, dominates Bucs

Crew righty ties career high with 10 K's by leaning heavily on fastball
@Russ_Dorsey1
June 8, 2019

MILWAUKEE -- It was almost deja vu for Brandon Woodruff on Friday night. He faced the same Pittsburgh Pirates team that roughed him up six days earlier. Both teams even wore the same jerseys they donned back in Pittsburgh, honoring the Negro Leagues. But what wasn’t the same was Woodruff’s

MILWAUKEE -- It was almost deja vu for Brandon Woodruff on Friday night.

He faced the same Pittsburgh Pirates team that roughed him up six days earlier. Both teams even wore the same jerseys they donned back in Pittsburgh, honoring the Negro Leagues.

But what wasn’t the same was Woodruff’s performance in Milwaukee’s 10-4 win at Miller Park.

Box score

"I was ready to get back out there and face these guys again,” Woodruff said. “Went back and watched film from last game, and I just wasn’t executing well enough. I’d make a good pitch, and then I’d make a more reachable pitch for them. Tonight, if I made a good pitch, come back and throw an even better pitch after. For the most part, I was able to do that.”

Woodruff reverted to his pre-June form, when he was 7-1 with a 3.22 ERA. He was in attack mode from the start, striking out five of the first six batters he faced and setting the tone for his bounce-back performance.

“I think to come out and do that, it tells me my stuff is pretty good tonight,” he said. “That just gives you the confidence that no matter if you get into a little jam or whatever it is, you have the confidence that you know you can get a strikeout.”

“Your eye test should’ve told you what the difference was tonight,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “There was fresh velocity. It was downhill and down. The slider played. The changeup. The stuff was sharp, and it was crisp.”

The right-hander was able to get a big swing and miss when he needed it. None was bigger than in the final strikeout of his start.

Woodruff looked to be fading after giving up a solo home run to Kevin Newman to start the sixth inning, but he responded by retiring Bryan Reynolds and Melky Cabrera to bring up the Pirates’ most dangerous hitter, Josh Bell.

He didn't give in, and after working the count to 1-2 he emptied the tank, blowing a 98 mph fastball past the swinging Bell on his 99th pitch of the game to strike out his career-high-tying 10th batter. He also reached 10 punchouts on May 26 vs. the Phillies.

“When you’re looking at what the starters are doing in that range of the game, to know Wood’s got something left in the tank, you file that away for sure,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.

The fireballer relied heavily on the fastball, with two-seam and four-seam fastballs accounting for 71 percent (70 of 99) of his total pitches. The changeup (15 percent) and slider (14 percent) took a back seat.

Woodruff’s average two-seamer registered at 96.4 mph and his four-seamer at 97.1 mph, with his highest for both clocking at 99 mph, according to Statcast.

The “Here it is, try to hit it” approach provided better results. He threw just 58 percent fastballs when the Pirates tagged him for six runs and 10 hits last Saturday.

“His fastball was very good tonight,” Counsell said. “Changeup was very good with all the left-handed hitters in there. I thought he made a lot of good pitches all night.

“He’s confident in what he’s doing. It’s mainly because of the fastball. He’s got hitters looking for it and throwing it by them. I think the feedback [from] the league has given him a lot of confidence.”

Russell Dorsey is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @Russ_Dorsey1.