MILWAUKEE — The Brewers came into the 2022 season with one of the best starting rotations and bullpens in the Major Leagues. Pitching hasn’t been the problem for this team over the years, but the hitting has been.
Milwaukee’s offensive woes stemming from the 2021 National League Division Series carried over into the early part of this season.
But Milwaukee got the bats going against the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon in the Brewers’ 6-5 win at American Family Field.
Their six runs scored were a season high and snapped a 15-game streak of being held under six runs, dating back to Oct. 1.
After scoring just two runs combined on Friday and Saturday, Milwaukee needed to start the game off right. And it did just that.
The Brewers scored three runs in the first inning by being patient at the plate and letting Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson pitch to them. Hudson faltered and Milwaukee capitalized on it. Kolten Wong, Willy Adames and Christian Yelich were all extremely composed in their at-bats, with Adames and Yelich working walks and Wong getting hit by a pitch.
All three scored in the inning.
“Any time you get a good start like that, it gets you rolling,” Tyrone Taylor said.
Andrew McCutchen brought in Wong on a sacrifice fly and Rowdy Tellez roped a 106.1 mph double into left-center to score Adames. Yelich scored on the next at-bat on a throwing error from catcher Andrew Knizner.
The offensive patience continued as the Brewers continued to push Hudson’s pitch count higher.
Taylor grounded out to begin the second inning, but he battled for seven pitches. Then, Jace Peterson waited back on an 88 mph changeup for a single. Next, Wong came to the plate for a nine pitch at-bat, and though he grounded out, it was another solid at-bat.
“We had to be patient,” manager Craig Counsell said. “We did a nice job of that. Today was a day when just patience and grinding out at-bats paid some dividends.”
Those are the kind of plate appearances that the Brewers will need all season.
In the fourth, they piled together great at-bats once again. A walk by Peterson and singles from Keston Hiura and Taylor set up Adames for a bases-loaded RBI walk.
“I would describe it as [a] player just putting at-bats under his belt,” said Counsell on Adames’ patience. “This is what happens to Major League players — they put at-bats under their belt and they get better.”
As for Taylor, his single wasn’t the only way he contributed in the game.
After an outstanding Spring Training, Taylor hadn’t carried that over into the regular season, going just 2-for-18 entering Sunday.
But the 28-year-old put that past him and delivered a two-out RBI double to left field with the bases loaded in the seventh, bringing in two runs and putting the Brewers up 6-3. Taylor’s heroics proved to be the needed insurance in Milwaukee’s win.
“That was a huge hit,” Counsell remarked. “We had a really good opportunity with [runners on] second and third and nobody out. [The Cardinals] came close to getting out of it.”
Following a disappointing performance from setup man Devin Williams in the eighth, who allowed two runs on two hits and three walks, closer Josh Hader picked up the slack in the ninth to close out the game, earning his 100th career save.
“It feels awesome,” said Hader on his 100th save. “It’s a big accomplishment in my career — just to do it with the Brewers, being in this organization. It was a fun journey just to make it here and to get 100 [saves]. It’s pretty special.”
The Brewers’ approach was key on Sunday, walking and striking out seven times each, respectively. In the two games prior, Milwaukee struck out 18 times and only walked twice. Sunday will potentially serve as a stepping stone of what’s to come for the offense.
“We had solid approaches at the plate today and hopefully we build off it,” Taylor said.