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A perfect debut: Burnes caps Brewers' victory

Crew sets club record for wins before All-Star break; Yelich knocks in 4 runs at former home park
July 10, 2018

MIAMI -- Ideally, the Brewers would have found a low-leverage situation for their 23-year-old top pitching prospect, Corbin Burnes, to make his Major League debut. But sometimes, the baseball gods don't let you choose.With his name floated in Manny Machado trade rumors earlier in the day, Burnes debuted in a

MIAMI -- Ideally, the Brewers would have found a low-leverage situation for their 23-year-old top pitching prospect, Corbin Burnes, to make his Major League debut. But sometimes, the baseball gods don't let you choose.
With his name floated in Manny Machado trade rumors earlier in the day, Burnes debuted in a tight spot Tuesday and went six up, six down to get the job done. He protected a two-run lead with a perfect eighth inning, then returned with a four-run lead in the ninth and finished the Brewers' 8-4 win at Marlins Park.
"I would have preferred a different setting for his first outing, but the way our bullpen was lined up, it was his job to get these outs," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "The next time he enters the game, there's not going to be any bigger spot. So he's kind of conquered that hurdle and gotten over that bridge. That's a great sign."

Another great sign for Counsell's club: At 55-37, the Brewers set a franchise record for victories before the All-Star break with six games left on their first-half schedule.
So, Burnes can say he was part of some history.
"That was everything I've dreamed and plus some," he said. "That was pretty cool."

Christian Yelich collected three hits and four RBIs against his former team, and Travis Shaw and Tyler Saladino drove in two runs apiece as Milwaukee rode a four-run second inning to its seventh win in nine games on a night starter Jhoulys Chacin had to grind through 5 2/3 innings.

He exited with a 5-4 lead, relievers Dan Jennings and Jeremy Jeffress preserved it, and Shaw added insurance with his 16th home run of the season in the eighth before Burnes, the Brewers' No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, took over. He'd been in the news Tuesday before throwing his first pitch, after a report that the Orioles coveted the right-hander in trade talks with the Brewers for All-Star shortstop Machado.
As it happened, both men had a big night. Machado had just hit his second home run of the night against the Yankees in Baltimore when Burnes took over in Miami and induced a Miguel Rojas groundout for his first out in the Majors. Cameron Maybin lined out to deep center field, and John Holaday swung on a slider in the dirt for Burnes' first big league strikeout.

Yelich provided some breathing room in the ninth with a two-run double, giving him a season-high four RBIs in the game and five hits in 10 at-bats in his first two games back at Marlins Park since Miami dealt him to Milwaukee in January.
Those runs sent Burnes back to the mound for another 1-2-3 inning in the ninth and gave closer Corey Knebel a day of rest.
"They were chipping away all night, so to give us a little more breathing room was huge," Yelich said. "And Corbin was able to shut the door."
Shaw provides insurance: One night after a one-run lead slipped away from Josh Hader in the seventh inning, the Marlins were similarly hanging around in the late innings on Tuesday before Shaw and Yelich helped the Brewers pull away. Shaw's home run in the eighth off Javy Guerra, a solo shot off the facade in the second deck in right field, made it 6-4 and gave Shaw two homers in the past week after he'd gone without one for a 20-game stretch.

"I thought Travis's homer was huge," Counsell said. "That probably was the big run."
Welcome home: Yelich was a thorn in his former team's side from the start, delivering a double in the first inning that set up Shaw's run-scoring groundout. Then, after Miami scored twice off Chacin in the bottom of that inning, Yelich drove in two more runs with a single in Milwaukee's four-run second. Each of Yelich's five hits in the first two games of the series have gone to the opposite field.
"The hit in the second inning was a hit we needed. It got us back into the lead after giving up the lead," said Counsell. "That was a nice inning. We got the leadoff hitter on, and it looked like it was going to fizzle, and we end up with four runs that inning with some two-out hits."

When Burnes finished the game, he qualified for his first Major League save and became the first pitcher since the Cubs' Kyuji Fujikawa on April 1, 2013, at Pittsburgh to notch a save in his Major League debut. The only other Brewers pitcher to get a save in his debut was Dave LaPoint in 1980.
Before he could settle into his outing, Burnes had to deal with some butterflies in his stomach. Catcher Erik Kratz greeted him on the mound at the start of the eighth, and, according to Burnes, reminded the rookie that he was playing the same game he played growing up in Bakersfield, Calif., and at St. Mary's College before the Brewers made him their 2016 fourth-round pick.
"Go out there and try to pound the strike zone," Kratz told him.
The first pitch: A 95.5-mph fastball to the backstop.

"You can't groove one for the very first pitch," Burnes said afterward.
From there, he made quick work, throwing 18 of his final 24 pitches for strikes while topping out at 96.5 mph.
"My read on it is if you get to the big leagues this fast, you know what you're doing, and you can handle yourself," said Counsell. "To put together a season like he did last year [when Burnes was Milwaukee's Minor League player of the year] tells me you've got to keep it together, and you're mentally a pretty focused kid. Our feel on him is limited, but based on his history as a Brewer, that's kind of what I've gathered."
"There is really good depth on this team. I'm so happy in this organization, and hopefully, I can teach them a little bit and learn from them, too. They have such good stuff. Freddy [Peralta] has that good cut fastball, and then to see Burnes with electric stuff. To go to the postseason, you see guys like that, rookies, make the difference." -- Chacin, on what he's seen from Brewers callups
Peralta (4-1, 2.14 ERA) will start in Wednesday's series finale against Miami at 6:10 p.m. CT at Marlins Park. Peralta, the No. 9 Brewers prospect per MLB Pipeline, has held big league batters to a .134 average and tallied 46 strikeouts through his first six starts. The Marlins will counter with right-hander Dan Straily (3-4, 4.55).

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.