Brewers 8, Reds 0: Corbin Burnes spins a gem to lead Milwaukee to a huge road sweep
CINCINNATI – What a response by the Milwaukee Brewers.
After losing three of four at home to the Cincinnati Reds heading into the all-star break, the Brewers turned the tables and capped a three-game sweep with a 8-0 shutout at Great American Ball Park on Sunday afternoon.
Corbin Burnes dominated with a career-high, 8⅓-inning start and 12 strikeouts while the offense rode a four-run fifth and added home runs from Christian Yelich in the seventh and Willy Adames in the ninth.
It all helped Milwaukee open its lead in the National League Central back up to seven games – one more than it was when the two teams began their stretch of seven straight meetings bookending the all-star break.
"We showed the mental toughness of our team," said Yelich, referring specifically to the first two victories in which the Brewers battled back from mid-game deficits.
"We ran up against some really good starters and just kept trying to put good at-bats together, grind. Pitching staff stepped up big.
"It was a good three days for us."
Five players had two hits and drove in at least a run for the Brewers, who outscored the Reds, 26-10, and out-hit them, 38-19, during the series while capping it off with their 10th shutout of the season.
Milwaukee was nursing a tenuous 1-0 lead in the fifth when the momentum quickly shifted.
With Luis Urías on second, Willy Adames and Rowdy Tellez worked consecutive two-out walks from usual Brewer killer Sonny Gray, who'd settled in after a rocky start.
That brought up Tyrone Taylor, already in the midst of a nightmarish day at the plate after striking out with the bases loaded in the first and grounding into an inning-ending, 5-4-3 double play in the third.
Taylor wasted no time, swinging at Gray's first offering and lining a two-run single to left. Jackie Bradley Jr. followed by lacing a triple into the right-field corner to score two more, and just like that the lead had ballooned to 5-0.
Gray's day ended at that point, while Burnes continued to deal.
By the end of the sixth, he had generated nearly as many ground-ball outs (seven) as strikeouts (eight) against a Reds lineup that was once again without Nick Castellanos.
Yelich, who helped spark the Brewers late in their 11-inning marathon victory Saturday night, opened the seventh by sending a 411-foot homer out to left-center off left-hander Cionel Pérez.
It was Yelich's first homer since June 26.
"Just trying to contribute, whether it’s getting on base, driving guys in, just being a part of the group we have here," is how Yelich summed up his weekend, which ended with the sort of impactful at-bats he and the Brewers have been seeking all season.
"Just do your job, know your role and contribute to a winning cause every day.”
After Burnes breezed through the seventh and struck out the side in the eighth, the only question became would Counsell allow him to try and finish the game up?
The answer was yes, and he took the mound in the ninth at 98 pitches while also having seen the lead grow to 8-0 after Adames' two-run homer in the top of the frame.
Jonathan India opened with a groundout, but a single by Jesse Winker and a throwing error by Tellez on what could have been a game-ending, double-play grounder put two on for Cincinnati.
Tyler Naquin then sent a soft liner up the middle that was gloved by Adames but still ended up as a hit, ending the day for Burnes at 108 pitches.
"On a day when we needed length from our starter, we got an unbelievable performance and unbelievable effort," said Counsell. "He was really, really good today.
"He wasn't quite in sync the first inning and then innings two through eight – really two through nine – he was on cruise, really. Every pitch executed. Ahead in the count.
"Just really, really good."
Burnes finished two outs shy of recording Milwaukee's first nine-inning, complete-game shutout since Sept. 24, 2014, when Kyle Lohse blanked the Reds in the same ballpark.
"I don’t think it was until I finished the seventh that I looked up and saw the pitch count was only 75 or 80 or somewhere in that range," said Burnes, who also missed out on Milwaukee's first nine-inning complete game since Jimmy Nelson on June 18, 2017.
"That was kind of when I thought, hey, I’ve got a chance to go the distance today, so we stuck to the game plan and just kept attacking. We got some quick outs, some quick punchouts, and that helped keep the pitch count down the rest of the day."
Angel Perdomo, just recalled from Class AAA Nashville on Saturday, came on to close the game out.
"We held our own," said Counsell. "As far as the group of the games, we held our own. They played a good series in Milwaukee, we played a really good series here, and so we're kind of back where we started.
"We've just got to see what's in front of us."
Gray came off the injured list to start for the Reds, and it appeared as though it would be a long day for him based on his first inning.
He hit Jace Peterson to open the game, surrendered a single to Urías next and then with one out walked Adames to load the bases for Tellez.
Gray plunked Tellez to force Peterson in and give Milwaukee the quick 1-0 lead but then wriggled off the hook by getting Taylor on a called third strike and Bradley on a tapper back to the mound.
Gray worked around baserunners in the second and third and retired Milwaukee in order in the fourth before Urías' single opened the floodgates and Gray was ultimately chased from the game.
The Brewers, badly needing a lengthy start after blowing out their bullpen the night before, got exactly that from Burnes.
The right-hander generated seven strikeouts and six ground-ball outs while allowing only two hits and a walk over his first five innings.
Monday: Off day.
Tuesday: Brewers vs. Royals, 3:10 p.m. Milwaukee LHP Eric Lauer (3-4, 3.83) vs. Kansas City LHP Mike Minor (6-8, 5.67). TV: Bally Sports Wisconsin. Radio: FM-94.5.