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Yaz's 2 HRs not enough for beleaguered 'pen

Brewers come from behind to take lead but can't hold it
@AdamMcCalvy
April 10, 2019

ANAHEIM -- Yasmani Grandal homered twice, drove in three runs and scored three times on Tuesday as the Brewers powered their way back from a six-run deficit to take a one-run lead. But after that lead got away, and after the go-ahead run was gift-wrapped via a bases-loaded walk in

ANAHEIM -- Yasmani Grandal homered twice, drove in three runs and scored three times on Tuesday as the Brewers powered their way back from a six-run deficit to take a one-run lead.

But after that lead got away, and after the go-ahead run was gift-wrapped via a bases-loaded walk in an 11-8 loss to the Angels, Grandal repeated the same assessment he made Sunday in the glow of a series win against the rival Cubs.

“There’s a lot of things we need to clean up,” he said.

Alex Wilson's bases-loaded walk to Jonathan Lucroy in the seventh inning gave the Angels the lead. Jake Petricka yielded two more runs in the eighth to wipe out Grandal’s big night at the plate, ensuring the Brewers’ first series defeat this season.

Just getting Wilson into a tight game was something of a feat for Grandal & Co., who trailed 6-0 after a first inning capped by Tommy La Stella’s three-run homer -- the first of La Stella’s two home runs off 22-year-old Brewers starter Freddy Peralta. Struggling to keep his fastball at the top of the strike zone where it belonged, Peralta needed 42 pitches for the first inning alone and didn’t make it through the fourth, putting the rest of the game on a bullpen missing its two best right-handers -- Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress -- because of injuries, and on an offense with a couple of big hitters -- Jesus Aguilar and Travis Shaw -- struggling to find their swings.

Grandal, however, has emerged from an early-season funk. He began his Brewers career hitless in 12 at-bats but is 12-for-21 with three home runs since. He singled for the first of the Brewers’ four consecutive two-out hits in a three-run second inning that answered the Angels’ six-run first, then hit a solo home run in the fourth inning and teamed with Mike Moustakas on back-to-back home runs in a go-ahead fifth as Milwaukee knocked Matt Harvey out of the game and claimed the lead.

Moustakas, shedding his own hitting funk over the past two days, hit a two-run home run for a 7-7 tie before Grandal smashed a 3-0 pitch to the seats to make it 8-7.

“If I miss those two pitches,” Grandal said of his home runs, “then I’m in big trouble. I think Harvey just left one over the plate and then [reliever Luke] Bard did the same thing. We’re big league hitters, and if we throw a fastball exactly right down the pipe, you’re probably going to get hit.

“I need to start walking more. I like my ABs. I like where I’m at. I’m not quite there yet with the swing that I want. I need to start walking just a little bit more, need to start letting the guys behind me do their job. For now, as long as I’m getting on base [via hits], it’s good. I guess walks will come at some point.”

The Brewers’ lead didn’t last. Andrelton Simmons’ high-hop double leading off the bottom of the fifth led to the tying run against Matt Albers, and the Angels pushed ahead in a seventh inning that began with Justin Bour working a walk from Alex Claudio. Simmons greeted Wilson with a single, and both runners advanced on a wild pitch. After an intentional walk loaded the bases, former Brewers catcher Lucroy looked at four straight pitches out of the zone and trotted to first base with the go-ahead RBI.

The wild pitch proved “definitely big” in that sequence, Grandal said.

“The last thing you’re expecting is for him to throw his best pitch 3-4 feet in the other batter’s box,” Grandal said. “But that’s a ball I need to make a better effort at going out and getting.”

Brewers relievers have a 5.40 ERA after covering 45 of the team’s first 106 innings.

“We gave up 11 runs. That’s just too many,” manager Craig Counsell said. “You’re not going to win many games at all giving up 11.”

He added, “When you’re going to the bullpen in the fourth, there’s a lot of guys that have to have a good night. I think that’s how to put it. [If you’re in] the bullpen in the fourth inning, you don’t expect zeroes the rest of the night. That’s not going to happen.”

Grandal spent a half hour studying postgame video.

“Games like this are going to let you know what you need to work on, what you need to clean up,” Grandal said. “Continue to trust in the process, and know that in the end of the year, we’re going to be exactly where we need to be.”

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram and like him on Facebook.