The Brewers just had their best two days at the dish this season, but don’t let that distract from the friendly competition they’ve got going on the mound.
Brett Anderson’s five-inning, one-run performance in Sunday’s 9-3 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium capped one of the stingiest turns through the rotation in franchise history. Meanwhile, Avisaíl García and Travis Shaw powered early homers to give the Crew back-to-back series victories over the Cubs and Cards in their season-opening road trip.
Starting with Freddy Peralta at Wrigley Field on Tuesday through Anderson’s outing on Sunday — with Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes and Adrian Houser in between — Brewers starters pitched 28 innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on 14 hits (10 singles) with 10 walks and 29 strikeouts. That’s a full turn through the rotation with a 0.32 ERA. According to Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the first time in franchise history that the Brewers had five straight starts of five-plus innings with those pitchers combining to allow one or no earned runs.
And before Anderson — who’d been staked to a 7-0 lead — allowed a run-scoring groundout in the second inning of Sunday’s game, the Brewers had four consecutive starts of at least five innings with no earned runs allowed. They hadn’t done that since 1976.
“It’s a strength of the team,” manager Craig Counsell said. “We thought that going in, and they’ve delivered so far.”
Next up, Peralta, who is scheduled to start Monday’s series opener at home against the Cubs.
“It feels great, because we’ve been together for a couple years, even in the Minors, too,” Peralta said. “It feels great when you make that kind of progress in the rotation. You feel like you have something to follow.
“It’s like, ‘My guy did this and we won the game, so I have to do the same today and give my best.’ We are like family. We’ve been together. It’s like a competition is how it looks. But what we try to do is go out and do our best and give 100 percent every day.”
The Brewers were two walks, a hit and a run-scoring groundout away from going a whole turn through the rotation without allowing an earned run. That’s the combination that produced the Cardinals’ only run off Anderson in the second on Sunday, after the left-hander had idled through two long rallies by St. Louis’ offense.
“Well, I’m not thrilled to hear that. I wish I [didn’t] ruin that streak,” Anderson quipped. “The rest of the guys have been phenomenal, with the strikeouts and the stuff they have — it’s phenomenal. They get on a roll and you try to pass the baton on to the next guy, and hopefully, we keep that going.”
Brewers hitters helped make it a relatively easy outing for Anderson, who batted (and drew a bases-loaded walk) before he threw a pitch with a 4-0 lead in the first inning and then had a 7-0 lead before throwing in the second. García hit a two-run home run in the first, while Shaw launched a long three-run homer in the second, before departing in the fifth with a bruised right shin. The Brewers also lost Christian Yelich to a sore back, and both players are considered day to day.
With 18 runs in their last two games against the Cardinals, the Brewers came close to the 20 total runs they scored during the first seven games of the season.
“All year, the pitching’s been incredible,” Shaw said. “Offensively, we started off a little bit slow, and I think we could have a better record than we do, just because of how poorly we swung the bats early in the season. But if the pitching keeps pitching like that, we’re going to be in a really good spot come the end of the season.”
The Cubs are about to catch the nastiest portion of the Brewers’ starting staff for the second week in a row. Peralta, Woodruff and Burnes are lined up to pitch against Chicago from Monday-Wednesday at American Family Field.
That trio has been particularly effective this season. In their five starts, plus Peralta’s Opening Day relief stint, Woodruff, Burnes and Peralta have combined to allow four earned runs on 12 hits in 30 1/3 innings, striking out 47 of the 112 batters they have faced (42 percent).
“I think we know Burnes and Woodruff are very competitive people,” Brewers pitching coach Chris Hook said. “I think it’s just in their genes, it’s just what they do. It’s a friendly competition. They’re going to try to outdo each other. I think that’s kind of what we want — Houser, Freddy, and Brett is even in there, too. Don’t overlook Brett in all this. I think he is an important cog in this rotation. But yes, there’s a friendly competition, and we hope to continue to stoke that.”