On Friday night at American Family Field, it was the Brewers vs. the Pirates’ young starter with “Brew” inscribed on his glove.
Brubaker was dominant out the gate, striking out two batters in a nine-pitch first inning, then filling up the zone and getting weak contact from the middle of the Brewers’ order in a five-pitch second. It marked the first time in nearly a decade that a Pirates starter was that efficient; Jeff Karstens required only 14 pitches to get through two innings against the Giants on April 28, 2011.
But in the third came the real test for Brubaker. He trusted his stuff when the bases were empty. Now he had to trust his stuff with the bases loaded after a leadoff double and two hit batsmen. The sophomore Major Leaguer faced slugger Travis Shaw, who has three homers already in the young season, in a nine-pitch at-bat.
The ninth pitch? A 93-mph fastball right down the middle that Shaw whiffed on, sending Brubaker yelling off the mound in excitement.
Brubaker got Shaw to ground out in the fifth inning with two on in his final test with runners in scoring position. The right-hander became the first Pirates starter to complete six innings this season, drawing eyes with a solid 1.76 ERA through three starts.