As Brewers first baseman Daniel Vogelbach crossed home plate in the sixth inning against the Reds on Thursday, he turned around expecting left fielder Christian Yelich to be running right behind him.
Vogelbach and Yelich had just taken consecutive walks against Cincinnati starter Luis Castillo, and Milwaukee right fielder Avisaíl García worked a 10-pitch at-bat that chased Castillo from the game in favor of reliever Lucas Sims. Brewers shortstop Willy Adames roped the ball to left-center on the fourth pitch of the next at-bat, scoring Vogelbach, but because the ball bounced over the wall, Yelich had to hold up at third.
By then, momentum was shifting in the Crew’s favor. On the very next pitch, second baseman Jace Peterson dropped a blooper into shallow left field. Yelich and Adames scored on the base hit to put the Brewers ahead for good.
Milwaukee had just one hit through the first five innings and none from the second through the fifth, but it took just five pitches for the Brewers’ day to turn completely around in their 7-2 win on Thursday at Great American Ball Park.
“I was expecting Yeli to be scoring. I didn't think it was gonna bounce over,” Vogelbach said. “I didn't really know what was gonna happen, but thank goodness Jace came through after that with a big hit and got those two guys in.”
Prior to the top of the sixth, Castillo had retired 14 straight Milwaukee hitters and set them down in order in the previous four innings. Even 37 minutes of rain that delayed the start of the fifth didn’t slow Castillo down, as he retired the next four batters he faced. But Vogelbach and Yelich saw 11 pitches combined in their sixth-inning plate appearances, setting up a chance for García to do some damage.
That damage didn’t come on the scoreboard, since García ended up striking out. However, after working a 2-2 count, he fouled off three consecutive pitches, took a pitch out of the zone and then fouled off another. García finally struck out on an inside changeup on the 10th pitch of the at-bat, raising Castillo’s pitch count to 96 and forcing Reds manager David Bell to pull him from the game.
“That’s why I think Avi [García]’s at-bat was so important,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He had a 10-pitch at-bat there, and if [Castillo] makes a quick out there, they’re probably thinking about sending him out there for the seventh. Sometimes it’s the at-bat that doesn’t end up in a hit but takes a big piece out of the starter, and I thought that was the one.”
Once Castillo’s day came to an end, Milwaukee took advantage of Cincinnati’s vulnerable bullpen.
Adames -- fresh off a four-hit game Wednesday but hitless in his first two at-bats against Castillo -- worked a 1-2 count on the first three pitches from Sims. When Adames saw a curveball away on pitch No. 4, he hit the ground-rule double to left-center that tied the game at two and put runners in scoring position for Peterson, whose blooper put the Brewers in front to stay.
“We know that we have a good offense,” said starter Freddy Peralta, who struck out six over four innings but was removed from the game after the rain delay. “Sometimes you have to wait a little bit and see if they're going to wake up, but we know -- everybody knows in the clubhouse -- that we have very good hitters on the team."
The win comes after a double loss on Wednesday in which Milwaukee took a 7-3 defeat and lost third baseman Travis Shaw to a dislocated left shoulder in the process. The bounce-back performance, though, now gives the Brewers 11 wins in their last 13 games, and it ensured the club would head back to Milwaukee with a share of first place in the National League Central.
“We're having fun as a team and looking forward to whoever we play, trying to put together wins,” Peterson said on the Bally Sports Wisconsin broadcast. “It was a fun series, and [we're] looking forward to more.”