Five-run inning and no-hit bid lead Brewers to win in Boston

May 26th, 2024

BOSTON -- From the opener to the offense, it was another banner day for the Brewers.

Pitching as an opener for the second straight day, lefty reliever became the third pitcher in regular season and postseason franchise history to start consecutive team games, pairing with regularly-scheduled starter Colin Rea to hold Boston hitless until the seventh inning of the Brewers’ 6-3 win at Fenway Park on Saturday.

“I was watching it from the training room and didn’t want to move,” Koenig said.

Rea noticed the zero in Boston’s hit column after the fifth inning. He tried to keep it there as long as he could.

“I thought Jared did a great job of starting the game and setting the tone,” Rea said. “I just tried to come in and follow that.”

It was a unique beginning to a no-hit bid. Originally, Rea was scheduled to start for the Brewers, just like Bryse Wilson was scheduled to start the series opener on Friday.

But with the Red Sox heavy on left-handed hitters at the top of the batting order, manager Pat Murphy decided to employ Koenig as a left-handed opener instead. On Friday, Koenig faced four hitters and two of them reached safely before Wilson took over and pitched the next 5 1/3 innings of the Brewers’ 7-2 win.

Saturday went much more according to plan. Even with a change to Boston’s lineup that moved right-handed hitter Tyler O’Neill up to the three-hole, Koenig pitched a perfect first inning on 11 pitches and then returned to strike out left-handed hitter Rafael Devers in the second.

Rea took over at that point, and despite a trio of walks, kept the Red Sox out of the hit column until Devers led off the bottom of the seventh with a double high off the center-field wall. It started a two-run rally, but Rea was able to escape the inning with the lead and this respectable pitching line: 5 2/3 innings, three hits, two earned runs, three walks, two strikeouts. Hoby Milner and Trevor Megill handled the rest.

“Brewers pitching staff, I’ve known those guys for a really long time,” Boston left fielder Tyler O’Neill, the former St. Louis Cardinal, said. “They're a big reason why that team's in the position they’re in over in the Central. We’re just trying to grind it out.”

All of the Brewers’ offense during Rea’s stint came with a two-out flurry in the third inning, when Christian Yelich doubled and Willy Adames walked before Jake Bauers, Gary Sánchez, Sal Frelick and Joey Ortiz all delivered run-scoring hits -- Ortiz’s double good for two runs and a 5-0 lead.

“We can hit you with a three-run homer one night and then single you to death the next night,” Bauers said. “It’s good to see. Hopefully we can keep it going.”

Speaking of keeping it going, what comes next for Koenig?

If he wants to break the franchise record for starting consecutive team games, he still has some work to do. The last Brewers pitcher to start consecutive games, regular season and postseason, was Wade Miley in Games 5 (for one batter) and 6 of the 2018 NLCS against the Dodgers.

But that’s not the club record.

Believe it or not, Zack Grienke started three Brewers games in a row back in 2012.

Greinke started in Houston on July 7, 2012 and was ejected after two batters, then started the next afternoon in the final game before the All-Star break. When he started again in the Brewers’ first game following the break, he became the first pitcher to start three straight team games since Red Faber of the Chicago White Sox from Sept. 3-4, 1917.

“The question,” Murphy said before Koenig took the mound Saturday, “is what do we do [Sunday]?"

With Saturday’s win in the books, the manager was asked that very question.

Could Koenig get a chance to tie Greinke’s club record?

“I think that’s a little too much,” Murphy said.

Koenig planned to stay ready, just in case.

“I assume they’re not going to put me back out there, but if they text me and say, ‘Hey, we need you,’ and I’m feeling good,” he said, “I don’t see why not.”