DENVER -- Off the top of his head in the wake of the Brewers' 5-2 win over the Rockies, Lorenzo Cain guessed that he'd swung at three first pitches leading off road games before Thursday.Statcast™ says … he was exactly right.On this night at Coors Field, Cain decided to make
DENVER -- Off the top of his head in the wake of the Brewers' 5-2 win over the Rockies, Lorenzo Cain guessed that he'd swung at three first pitches leading off road games before Thursday.
Statcast™ says … he was exactly right.
On this night at Coors Field, Cain decided to make it four.
"I rarely ever swing at the first pitch," he said. "I was in here getting dressed and it was, like, 6:30. I yelled out to [Josh] Hader, 'Hey Hader, I'm swinging at the first pitch today.' Yeah, I announced it."
What did his teammates say?
"'Go ahead! Why not?'" Cain said.
Now, there is a chance Cain was just messing with reporters. But he told this story with a straight face after stepping into the batter's box 10 minutes after his alleged proclamation and hitting that very first pitch from Rockies right-hander German Marquez for a leadoff home run, the first of Cain's two RBIs and the first of the Brewers' 12 hits in a needed offensive breakthrough.
Hernan Perez hit a two-run single amid a three-run rally in the fifth inning, Travis Shaw emerged from a 5-for-50 funk with three hits and Cain reached safely four times before manager Craig Counsell's recently fortified bullpen held the Rockies scoreless over the final four innings. Brewers batters went without a hit over the same span, but they still finished one hit shy of their season high as a team.
When he connected against Marquez, Cain became the sixth player this season to homer on the first pitch in the top of the first inning. The other first-pitch strikes came from the Cubs' Ian Happ on March 29 at Miami (the very first pitch of the Major League season), the Twins' James Dozier on April 1 at Baltimore, the Cardinals' William Fowler on April 3 in Milwaukee (when Fowler and Tommy Pham went back-to-back to begin a Chase Anderson start), the Blue Jays' Steve Pearce on April 8 at Texas and the Braves' Ozzie Albies on April 29 at Philadelphia.
The last Brewers player who homered on the first pitch of a game was Jonathan Villar, who connected against the Rangers' Cole Hamels on Sept. 28, 2016, at Texas.
It was the Brewers' first leadoff home run this season. Cain's other leadoff launch came June 25, 2014, for the Royals at home against the Dodgers.
"I wasn't even down there [in the bullpen] yet," said Jeremy Jeffress, who eventually completed the Brewers' dominant relief by striking out the side in the ninth inning for this third save.
Jeffress emerged from the shower and saw the Brewers already had a 1-0 lead.
"Ambush," Jeffress said.
Is it the start of a new philosophy for the veteran center fielder? Maybe. Maybe not.
"Now it's in the back of their heads," Cain said. "'He might swing, he might not.' I might be back to my normal self [Friday]. You never know. I can always change my mind when I get here."
The Brewers have won five straight Jhoulys Chacin starts after the right-hander allowed two runs on four hits in 5 1/3 innings, with two walks and five strikeouts. After Boone Logan surrendered a ground-ball single in his Brewers debut, fellow relievers Matt Albers, Corey Knebel and Jeffress (third save) covered the final 11 outs without yielding a hit.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Pitchers who rake: Two days after Brent Suter homered off Corey Kluber, here was another improbable feat for a Brewers pitcher: Chacin legging out an infield hit on a 60.6-mph (according to Statcast™) grounder to third base with two outs in the fifth inning. Coming after other Brewers hits that left bats at 106.5 mph, 96.4 mph and 102.9 mph, Chacin's slow roller proved pivotal because it extended the inning for Cain's scorching RBI single -- 102.9 mph off the bat -- off first baseman Ian Desmond's glove to give the Brewers a 5-1 lead.
Welcome, and welcome back: Protecting a 5-2 lead, Counsell tapped his fully healthy bullpen after Chacin issued a one-out walk in the sixth inning. First up was left-hander Logan, fresh off the disabled list for his Brewers debut against David Dahl, who got enough of a slider at the bottom of the strike zone to ground it past first base for a single. Next out of the bullpen was Albers, who had not pitched since Friday and needed the work. He walked the first man he faced to load the bases, before inducing a 5-2-3 double play from Gerardo Parra to end the threat.
"Even to get out of that inning just giving up one [run], I would be fine," Albers said. "That was a big spot, obviously. We've got the lead, our starter's coming out. Boone came in and did his job, but the ball got through the hole. … I always know you're one pitch away when you're a ground-ball guy."
HE SAID IT
"I say it all the time: If I'm rolling, I feel like everybody else is rolling. That's why I'm trying to get on base as much as possible. I know if I get on base for these guys, it gets them going. I'm trying to be that spark." -- Cain
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
One of the Brewers' hits nearly came off the board in the fourth inning, when Christian Yelich legged out an infield single. The Rockies challenged, and Coors Field fans sounded as if they believed the call would be overturned. But it stood, and Yelich had his lone hit of the night.
With Zach Davies still sidelined by a sore shoulder, the Brewers will recall right-hander Brandon Woodruff to start Friday's 7:40 p.m. CT game against the Rockies. Pitching at altitude will be familiar to the 25-year-old veteran of Triple-A Colorado Springs, as will pitching in the Majors. This is Woodruff's third different stint with the Brewers in a regular season just entering its seventh week. Chad Bettis starts for Colorado.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.