PHOENIX -- After four days of the usual stress associated with pitching at Coors Field, the last thing the Brewers needed Monday was another heavy day of work for the relief corps. But that’s the reality they were presented with.
Veteran left-hander Brett Anderson exited with right knee discomfort and is “likely” bound for the 10-day injured list. Anderson suffered a bone bruise legging out a double-play grounder in the top of the second inning and then allowed five straight D-backs singles to begin the bottom of that inning before departing, throwing the Brewers into scramble mode in what became a 5-1 loss in the opener of a three-game series at Chase Field.
The Brewers’ misfortune was the D-backs’ gain, as Arizona snapped a 17-game losing streak.
“The Diamondbacks, it’s still a tough lineup,” Anderson said. “They’ve been scoring runs. They finally got a pitching performance to match their offensive capabilities, and that’s what it takes to win a game.”
That pitching performance came from a combination of Merrill Kelly, who allowed a run in the first inning and then nothing more through the end of the seventh, and relievers Noe Ramirez and Joakim Soria for an inning apiece.
When Soria, the former Brewer, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, Arizona had its first victory since June 1. Their skid included four losses at American Family Field in Milwaukee from June 3-6.
"There's excitement in that clubhouse tonight that's well deserved,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “And it's a night where I'm sure a lot of people inside of this organization will have a very, very good night's rest, and we all deserve that."
Anderson pitched a 1-2-3 first inning with a pair of groundouts, then he grounded into a double play in the top of the second and jammed his knee when he hit the bag. When he returned to the mound in the bottom of the inning, Anderson didn’t retire a batter, though he did get credited with an out when right fielder Avisaíl García fired a throw home on Stephen Vogt’s RBI single to prevent a second runner from scoring.
That’s when Anderson got a visit from Brewers head athletic trainer Scott Barringer, and left the game. Anderson missed 15 games earlier this season while on the 10-day injured list with a right hamstring strain that he said presented discomfort near his knee.
“I’m going to come in [Tuesday] and see how it feels,” Anderson said. “Hopefully there’s nothing more than some swelling or anything like that. It’s unfortunate. I felt good in the first and even in the second, [Christian] Walker hit his ball very hard, but the others weren't making a lot of hard contact. I just couldn’t get them to hit them at somebody.”
Brewers manager Craig Counsell indicated the team was likely to have some roster moves before Tuesday’s first pitch to get through the remainder of this series, which represents Games 15 and 16 of 16 in a row before an off-day on Thursday.
After that, the Brewers have another stretch of 17 consecutive game days going into the All-Star break.
“We've been going with six starters, so that's always an option [to go down to five],” said Counsell, asked about the team’s depth should Anderson go back on the 10-day IL. “Otherwise we'll count on somebody from [Triple-A] Nashville. But at this point, that's a ways away with the off-day and everything.”
Anderson departed in a 2-1 deficit, and it grew to 3-1 when emergency reliever Trevor Richards walked opposing pitcher Kelly and surrendered an RBI single to Ketel Marte. After that, the Brewers bullpen was pretty tough, allowing two runs the rest of the way.
“Ultimately, we just, we didn't have a good offensive night,” Counsell said. “We gave ourselves a shot after losing the starter in the second inning with some traffic on the bases, so [the relievers] did their jobs.”
There was a silver lining for the Brewers: Christian Yelich was OK after being taken out of the game in a sixth-inning double-switch. Yelich got a week’s worth of running in the ninth inning of Sunday’s win at Colorado because he was on first base when Omar Narváez fouled off seven full-count pitches in a 14-pitch at-bat, and Yelich has been playing essentially every day since easing back into action from a month on the IL with a bad back.
“We were only down four at that point, but just with the weekend in Colorado, he had one at-bat left, essentially, in the game, so it was just to give him a couple innings off his feet,” Counsell said. “He had a long day yesterday with that ninth-inning stuff, so just get him off his feet.”