Two trends are developing for the Milwaukee Brewers so far this season: productive first innings and effective outings by starting pitchers.
The Brewers attempt to keep both going Sunday afternoon when they host the Pittsburgh Pirates in the finale of a three-game series.
Milwaukee is attempting to win its fourth straight series after a 7-1 victory on Saturday night. The Brewers scored five runs with two outs in the first inning and Brett Anderson allowed an unearned run in seven sharp innings.
Milwaukee’s big opening inning gave them 15 runs in the first inning this season, matching its total from last year’s 60-game season. The Brewers are hitting .333 (21-for-63) in the first inning this season after batting .174 last season.
Jackie Bradley Jr. had three hits, including an infield single to start the first when the Brewers produced five straight two-out singles. That was more than enough for Anderson, who produced Milwaukee’s ninth outing in the past 10 games with at least five innings and one run or less allowed.
“That’s a good stat actually,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “I think walking out there with a big lead early in the game is a great feeling for a starting pitcher. I think it just puts you on the aggressive side of everything you’re doing, takes kind of the careful out of everything you’re doing and that’s a great way for Brett to pitch, so let’s keep that trend going for sure.”
Milwaukee’s starting pitchers boast a 1.85 ERA through its first 14 games and Freddy Peralta looks to keep the trend going. Peralta (2-0) owns a miniscule 0.69 ERA, his 24 strikeouts are second on the team behind Corbin Burnes and opponents are hitting .119 (5-for-42) off him.
Peralta last pitched in a 6-3 win over the visiting Chicago Cubs on Monday when he allowed one run and two hits in six innings while also getting 10 strikeouts — six in a stretch of nine batters after allowing a homer to Kris Bryant.
The right-hander is 1-0 with a 3.72 ERA in 10 career appearances against Pittsburgh. His lone start against the Pirates occurred June 19, 2018 in Pittsburgh when he allowed two hits, struck out seven and pitched six scoreless innings.
While Milwaukee has excelled in opening innings, Pittsburgh has allowed 23 runs in the first innings so far and opponents are batting .373 in opening innings. Ten of those runs occurred during a six-game losing streak from April 3-8 and the Pirates are looking to get their sixth win in 10 games after going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position Saturday.
Chad Kuhl (0-1, 6.75 ERA) starts for Pittsburgh and is hoping to display better control after issuing a major league-high 15 walks in his first three starts. On Tuesday, he walked a career-high seven hitters and allowed four runs, three earned, on four hits in 3 2/3 innings of a no-decision against the San Diego Padres.
“He’s just really inconsistent with his timing,” Shelton said of Kuhl. “His arm slot tends to drift, and when that happens you end up being rotational and you end up being out of the zone.”
Kuhl is 4-0 with a 1.73 ERA in eight career games (seven starts) against Milwaukee. He went 1-0 with a 1.04 ERA in two appearances against the Brewers last season.
–Field Level Media