Brewers Bullpen Saves the Day, Defeats Kluber and Tribe; Brewers 3, Indians 2
Bob Toth | On 08, May 2018
Each team hit a pair of home runs, but it would be a blast from an unlikely source for the Brewers off of Cleveland’s Corey Kluber that would prove to be the difference in a 3-2 Indians loss in Milwaukee on Tuesday night.
The Indians’ road woes worsened in the first game of two in a quick series from Miller Park against the Brewers. Cleveland (17-18) dropped its fourth game of the trip and fourth in a row, a season-high losing skid to drop the team back below the .500 mark and just a half game ahead of the charging Minnesota Twins in the American League Central Division.
It was Kluber Day and a rare opportunity for the Tribe’s ace to get to bat as the Indians played their first road interleague series of the season. Kluber was not as crisp as expected, but the situation appeared much more dire for the Brewers, who lost starting pitcher Wade Miley on the fourth batter of the game with an oblique injury, forcing the club to call upon its strong bullpen for eight and two-third innings of assistance. They were up to the task, thanks to a strong performance from left-hander Brent Suter in a game that he will undoubtedly never forget.
The Brewers got on the board early against the Indians in the home half of the first, minutes after losing Miley. Kluber struck out Lorenzo Cain to start the night before a single to left by Christian Yelich. A fielder’s choice by Ryan Braun forced out number two at second, but the slumping Travis Shaw, son of former Indians reliever Jeff Shaw, busted a 2-2 curveball over the wall in right to give Milwaukee a 2-1 lead.
The Indians left two on in the first and had two more on in the second, but Suter got a double play ground ball to end the inning. The lefty had nearly escaped the third, retiring the first two on outs in the air, but Jose Ramirez fouled off four pitches and sent the eighth pitch of his at bat 435 feet to center, high off of the batter’s eye to tally the Indians’ first run of the day.
Suter did the unthinkable leading off the home half of the third. He jumped at Kluber’s first offering and slugged a sinker to deep center for a solo home run, the first of his entire seven-year professional career, to give Milwaukee a 3-1 lead.
The Indians went down in order in the fourth, but Francisco Lindor gave the offense a jolt in the fifth with a skyscraping solo shot the opposite way just inside the right field foul pole. His ninth home run of the year made it a 3-2 game.
Lindor would be the last of the Tribe runners to reach base. Suter finished out the fifth, retiring the final three batters that he faced in order. Jeremy Jeffress retired four in a row with a pair of strikeouts before turning the game over to familiar left-hander Dan Jennings, who got pinch-hitter Yonder Alonso and Lindor on groundouts.
Kluber exited with Alonso’s pinch-hit effort and was replaced by Evan Marshall, who allowed a single in a scoreless seventh. Tyler Olson and Zach McAllister combined to work the eighth, with Olson allowing the first two men to reach on a single by Yelich and a double by Braun. A pop out to short by Shaw was followed by an intentional walk of Domingo Santana to set up force plays. Jonathan Villar grounded to third, with Ramirez coming to the plate for the force for the second out, and McAllister struck out Manny Pina on the 15th pitch of the at bat to leave two big runs in scoring position.
Phenom Josh Hader, a hard-throwing 24-year-old left-hander catching eyes across the country with his eye-popping strikeout totals, came on in the eighth, striking out one, and returned for the ninth, striking out two more to cap off a stretch of 15 straight Indians retired while earning his fifth save of the year.
The Brewers (21-15) got back into the win column and pulled into a virtual tie with St. Louis, who lost earlier in the day to Minnesota. The Cardinals hold a .005 percentage-point lead over the Brewers in the National League Central.
TOUGH LUCK FOR KLUBER
Kluber made his eighth straight quality start to open the 2018 season, but the two home runs allowed cost him a chance to come away victorious. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter in what would have been his third at bat of the game in the top of the seventh inning. He left with six innings in the books, charged with three earned runs on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts.
Kluber did not have his usual command, despite the low walk total. He threw 59 of 95 pitches for strikes and was first pitch strike to just 14 of the 24 batters that he faced. He induced just eight swinging strikes, but he did a good job to keep the ball down, getting ten outs on ground balls.
Over his last four starts, he has worked 28 2/3 innings and allowed 12 of his 17 runs allowed on the year. Eight of the ten home runs hit off of him this year have come in that span. Home runs have driven in 14 of the 17 runs that he has allowed this season.
WRONG KIND OF HISTORY
Suter’s big blast in the third was an unusual event off of an Indians pitcher. He became the first pitcher to homer off of the Indians since October 3, 1972, when Baltimore’s Roric Harrison did so with his first big league homer to lead off the sixth inning against Cleveland’s Ray Lamb. Harrison would hit six homers in his career and later pitched in 19 games for Cleveland in 1975.
Suter worked four and two-thirds innings of long relief, allowing two runs (on a pair of solo homers) on five hits with five strikeouts and one walk to earn his second win of the season.
BREWERS BUMPS AND BRUISES
Miley left after just 19 pitches and one out in the first, giving up a double to Lindor and a walk to Kipnis. After he got Ramirez to fly to left, he threw a pitch to Brantley and his yell could be heard easily as he clutched at his right side. The Brewers announced during the game that it was a right oblique strain suffered by the left-hander, who was making his second start of the year after an extended stay in the minors while working back from a groin injury sustained late in camp.
Nick Franklin also left the game hurt after just two at bats. He legged out a potential double play ball into a fielder’s choice, but pulled up after hitting the bag with what appeared to be a leg injury. His contract had just been purchased hours earlier by the Brewers from their Double-A Biloxi affiliate.
To create room for Franklin earlier in the day, the Brewers transferred catcher Stephen Vogt to the 60-day disabled list (after suffering what could be a career-threatening shoulder injury) and optioned infielder Eric Sogard to Triple-A Colorado Springs.
The Indians made a roster move prior to the game, optioning right-handed pitcher Alexi Ogando to Triple-A Columbus to make room for reliever Oliver Drake, who had been acquired by the Indians over the weekend, but just joined the club Tuesday. Decisions were made by a pair of relievers previously designated for assignment by the Indians who had passed unclaimed through waivers and were outrighted to Triple-A Columbus. Jeff Beliveau accepted his assignment, but Matt Belisle exercised his rights and elected to become a free agent instead.
Penultimately, the answers to Tuesday’s Brewers-themed trivia…
The Indians’ all-time saves leader racked up 139 in 156 chances during his time with the Indians. He made his second career All-Star appearance while with the Indians in 2005 and led the league in saves with 45. Prior to coming to Cleveland, however, he pitched for the Yankees and Brewers and was an All-Star reliever for Milwaukee in 2000, just weeks before he was acquired by the Tribe.
Who am I? Bob Wickman
After spending his first five big league seasons in Milwaukee with the Brewers, this second baseman played a season in Colorado before joining the Indians. He spent parts of three years in town and was selected as an All-Star while with Cleveland in 2004. He would be traded to the St. Louis Cardinals ahead of the 2006 trade deadline for infielder Hector Luna.
Who am I? Ronnie Belliard
This first baseman, outfielder, and designated hitter had been tied to the Cleveland Indians organization long before he signed with the club in 1988. He spent part of that season with the Indians and the other part in Colorado Springs with the Sky Sox before spending the final two seasons of his ten-year Major League career with the Brewers in 1989 and 1990. Since the end of his playing days, he has worked in TV and done front office work in addition to spending some successful time back in Major League dugouts.
Who am I? Tribe manager Terry Francona
The Indians’ curiously short series in Milwaukee will come to close on Wednesday afternoon, when the Brewers host the Tribe in a 1:10 PM ET getaway day start.
A pair of Venezuelan right-handers will take the mound. Junior Guerra (2-2, 2.33 ERA) will make his sixth start of the year, looking to end a two-game losing skid. The 33-year-old started the year strong, allowing just two earned runs in April over 22 innings. Fellow right-hander Carlos Carrasco (4-1, 3.95) will oppose. The 31-year-old Carrasco has run into some trouble in his last two outings and was hit hard by Toronto last Thursday, giving up six runs on nine hits in five and one-third innings in a no-decision. It will be his eighth start of the season and the first of his career against the Brewers.
Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images