MILWAUKEE -- Facing Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez in the first two games of their series against the Nationals at Miller Park this weekend, the Brewers knew they had their work cut out for them.Nobody would have faulted the Milwaukee hitters for struggling to produce runs, as most offenses have
MILWAUKEE -- Facing Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez in the first two games of their series against the Nationals at Miller Park this weekend, the Brewers knew they had their work cut out for them.
Nobody would have faulted the Milwaukee hitters for struggling to produce runs, as most offenses have done against the two starters that both rank in the top 10 in the Majors in wins since 2010.
A day after handing Scherzer five runs and the loss over six innings, the Brewers took it to Gonzalez, scoring six runs in just three innings. Those tallies would prove to be enough as Milwaukee took the second game of the series, 6-5.
"We did another good job again against another quality starting pitcher," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell, who was a player for Milwaukee the last time the club won a series against Washington. "We continue to do that, we continue to do a nice job against starters particularly early in the game. Putting pressure on them and never letting them settle in."
Leadoff hitter Jonathan Villar turned the pressure cooker on against Gonzalez with an infield single in the first, and Aaron Hill followed with another hit. Neither Ryan Braun nor Jonathan Lucroy could drive in the runners, leaving the job to Chris Carter.
If Gonzalez was attempting to wiggle out of an early jam, elevating a 3-1 changeup to the heavy-hitting Carter was not the best escape strategy. The first baseman jumped on the pitch and sent a souvenir to the fans in the left-field bleachers for his 19th homer to stake the Crew to a 3-0 lead.
"I've faced him a few times in the past and he's given me a pretty good mix of all his pitches," Carter said. "He left a changeup up there in a hitter's count. It's always nice to pick up a guy when he strikes out in front of you with runners in scoring position and get the runners in behind him."
Milwaukee tacked on another run in the fourth when Keon Broxton scored on an RBI single by Villar, who finished 3-for-4 with an RBI, a stolen base and a run scored.
The final blows came in the third, as a Hernan Perez ground-rule double scored Braun and put the Brewers up, 5-1.
"I wasn't feeling good the last couple of games, so I made an adjustment in my second at-bat," Perez said. "I was looking for a fastball away, I got that pitch and I hit it good."
The next batter, Scooter Gennett, tapped a roller to second baseman Daniel Murphy so lightly that Carter was able to beat the throw home even with the infield playing in for the final run against Gonzalez. When the damage was done, Gonzalez's line wasn't pretty: three innings, six hits, six runs, one walk and two hit batters.
"It's great scoring early in the game against those pitchers who are great, have been great in their careers," Perez said. "It's important for us now. We have a plan, we're always going to make them work and not make it easy for them."
Over the first two games, the Brewers have scored all 11 runs off Washington's starters, who have lasted just nine innings.
If you didn't foresee that happening, it's OK: this is baseball, where there is no Magic-8 ball.
Curt Hogg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee.