NEW YORK -- As Chase Anderson took the mound on a chilly, windy Saturday night at Citi Field, Brewers starters had covered 70 innings this season and Brewers relievers, 60. Even with an extra man and sometimes two in the bullpen, and analytics driving some of those decisions, it seemed
NEW YORK -- As Chase Anderson took the mound on a chilly, windy Saturday night at Citi Field, Brewers starters had covered 70 innings this season and Brewers relievers, 60. Even with an extra man and sometimes two in the bullpen, and analytics driving some of those decisions, it seemed an unsustainable ratio.
Anderson has been the exception, and he remained so against the Mets, denying baseball's hottest team a hit until the fifth inning and becoming the first Brewers starting pitcher to work into the seventh in a 5-1 Brewers win. Jonathan Villar and Jett Bandy homered off the Mets' Matt Harvey and Orlando Arcia added another home run in the ninth to snap New York's nine-game winning streak.
It was Anderson's third quality start in four outings. The Brewers' other pitchers have one quality start between them -- in 11 other games.
"We can look back at a pretty long track record of success of him being that guy now," said Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, who had to leave the game in the fifth inning when his back tightened. "He's really pitched like an ace."
That's not an overstatement. Since July 25, 2016, when Anderson started getting results from a new curveball grip, he is 18-6 with a 2.76 ERA in 225 1/3 innings. Four qualifying pitchers have a better ERA since that date: Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber, Max Scherzer and Kyle Hendricks.
Justin Verlander is right behind Anderson at 2.87 -- though Verlander deserves extra credit for logging about 100 more innings and winning a World Series ring.
"I want to be that guy who can stop it if we're going through a long losing streak, or be the guy to even out a series," Anderson said. "I think the guys in here respect that and have seen what I've done last season. I really respect the guys in here."
The Brewers' homer-happy offense gave Anderson an early lead. With a 20 mph wind whipping in from right field, Villar went the other way for an opposite-field, three-run homer that hugged the left-field foul pole in the second inning, and Bandy pulled a solo homer to left field in the fourth. For both players, it was their first home run of the season. It was Bandy's first since last May 26.
Anderson faced little resistance until the fifth inning, when a two-out walk preceded Amed Rosario's infield single up the middle, cut off by Brewers shortstop Eric Sogard but a clean hit. Anderson stranded both runners by striking out Jose Lobaton, and didn't allow a run until a hit batsman set-up Yoenis Cespedes' bloop RBI single to right field in the sixth.
Anderson allowed that lone run on two hits in 6 1/3 innings, with two walks and five strikeouts. Brewers manager Craig Counsell tapped his bullpen after 87 Anderson pitches, and Anderson was rewarded with his first victory when Jeremy Jeffress and Josh Hader covered the final 2 2/3 innings.
"Overall, my goal was to not get those guys -- Jeremy and Hader -- in the game," Anderson said. "I guess watching Hader pitch is OK. It's decently fun. He just blows doors off people."
Hader struck out the first five batters he faced and retired all six for his first Major League save. He kept the baseball as a souvenir.
"That's awesome," Hader said. "I guess there's no better feeling than closing out the game and getting the high-fives from the team and 'Bandy Man.'"
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bullpen call: Even Anderson admitted being a bit surprised when Counsell called for Jeffress with one out in the seventh inning, nobody on base and Todd Frazier -- 0-for-10 lifetime against Anderson, including a flyout and a walk in his first two plate appearances Saturday -- due to bat for the third time. Counsell simply said he thought the Jeffress-Frazier matchup was "excellent" for the Brewers, and he stood by the decision after Frazier snuck a single through the hole at second base. Jeffress rebounded by inducing a Rosaio double play to end the inning.
"Obviously, I want to stay in the game, because when you're rolling like that it's nice," Anderson said. "I never second-guess what he's doing over there. He's a great manager and he's leading this team in the right direction. We're trying to win the game. I understand that."
Fair ball: How Villar's home run stayed fair was anybody's guess after the game. Maybe the wind was swirling more than the American flags atop the stadium indicated. In the dugout, Counsell was "shocked." So was Villar, who couldn't believe he had given the Brewers a 3-0 lead.
"I saw the ball acting like a two-seamer, and I'm running but I never thought that ball would stay straight," Villar said. "I hit it and I go, 'Come on, ball!'"
Anderson's gem came one day shy of the 31st anniversary of the only no-hitter in Brewers history, Juan Nieves' five-walk tightrope act in Baltimore on April 15, 1987, for Milwaukee's "Team Streak." And Anderson, who took bids of his own into the eighth inning in each of his first two Brewers seasons, pointed out another coincidence.
When he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the D-backs last May, it ended on a single up the middle off Sogard's glove. Saturday's ended on a single up the middle to Sogard.
The batters? Nick Ahmed of the D-backs and Rosario of the Mets.
"Ahmed and Amed," Anderson said.
GAME INSIDE THE GAME
Anderson debuted a subtle change to his delivery on Saturday, holding his hands higher and closer to his chest.
Jhoulys Chacin will take the mound for his fourth start of the season on Sunday against the Mets seeking his first victory. He enters the day with a 6.59 ERA and has yet to make a quality start, not the kind of beginning the Brewers envisioned when they signed Chacin to a two-year deal before Christmas. The Mets will counter with Noah Syndergaard, who is 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA in two starts against Milwaukee. Game time is scheduled for 12:10 p.m. CT.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy.