A game that felt like multiple games.
The Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds went at it on Saturday night in a battle between current (Brandon Woodruff) and former (Luis Castillo) aces, a game that started as a pitcher’s duel and ended as a high-scoring affair in extra innings. Woodruff got himself into an early hole in the second inning. Tyler Naquin and Eugenio Suarez both walked with one out, then Shogo Akiyama grounded one to shortstop. Willy Adames and Luis Urias successfully got the out at second, but an error by first baseman Jace Peterson allowed Akiyama to reach and Naquin to scamper in and score to make it 1-0. The next batter, Kyle Farmer, doubled to left to bring the runner all the way around from first to make it 2-0.
The Brewers had several threats going against Castillo in the early parts of the game, but simply could not break through. The right-handed changeup specialist pitched 6.0 innings and had runners on in each of them, including two runners on base in each of the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings. But he was able to wiggle out of every situation and navigated through his start without allowing a run. Woodruff, meanwhile, was lifted after 5.2 innings as his pitch count crept up on him. Woody allowed only two hits during his start, but four walks contributed to 104 pitches used to record 17 outs. He did punch out eight batters while allowing just the two runs, and Hunter Strickland recorded the final out of the sixth. It was a 2-0 ballgame when the top of the seventh inning started.
Tyrone Taylor, who entered the game in a double switch when Woodruff came out, singled to lead off the inning. Kolten Wong singled after him, putting runners on the corners. Christian Yelich got the Brewers on the board with an RBI groundout to score the runner from third, making it a 2-1 game. After a pitching change from Amir Garrett to Brad Brach, Adames singled to right to bring home KoWo and knot the game up at two apiece. An error on a pickoff attempt allowed the runner to move up, then Omar Narvaez hit a ball to center field that was originally ruled a hit but was challenged and overturned by the Reds; the play went as a sacrifice fly, and the Brewers earned a 3-2 lead.
Jake Cousins pitched a scoreless bottom half, then the Brewers stranded two runners on in the top of the eighth. Brad Boxberger came in next, and the first batter he faced, Jonathan India, smacked a 2-1 changeup out over the fence in left field to tie the game back up at 3-3. Boxberger was then lifted for an injury, later deemed as “shoulder tightness” with a label of day-to-day. Brent Suter came in and got the requisite three outs, working around a single and a walk, to send the game to the ninth.
Neither side scored in the ninth, sending the game to extra innings. The Brewers scored their automatic runner in the top half of the frame on a single by Luis Urias, but the Reds answered in the bottom thanks to the help of an error and then a sacrifice fly. But Milwaukee got the job done with a crooked number in the top of the 11th. Yelich doubled leading off to score the automatic runner, then Willy Adames reached on an infield single. Avi Garcia singled and Jace Peterson got a sac fly, both bringing home runners, to make it 7-4. Jandel Gustave stayed on the mound for his second inning of work in the bottom of the 11th, and he wound up stranding the bases loaded to secure the victory for the Cream City Nine.
The Brewers and Reds will square off in the series finale on Sunday afternoon, with a lunchtime first pitch of 12:10 PM central time. Corbin Burnes will face off against Sonny Gray as Milwaukee tries to secure the sweep.