Milwaukee’s rookie pinch-hitter Keon Broxton watches his first career home run leave the park in the fifth inning of last night’s Brewers’ 5-3 victory over the Nationals at Miller Park.
There are many ups and downs in a 162 game Major League baseball season, and the Nationals are certainly in a down period at present. After losing two in a row to close their series with the Padres and being swept in three games at Dodger Stadium by Los Angeles, the Nats looked to rebound against lowly Milwaukee with Max Scherzer on the mound. Unfortunately it was more of the same for the Nats in the land of cheese, beer and brats, as the Nats lost 5-3 for their sixth straight defeat on what is becoming a brutal road trip.
Milwaukee 5 Nationals 3
WP- C. Torres (1-0) LP- Scherzer (8-5) SV- Jeffress (20
HR- Broxton, Mil (1) Nieuwenhuis, Mil (4)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star– Acquired from Pittsburgh last season, rookie outfielder Keon Broxton seems to have the tools to succeed at the Major League level. Last night the youngster showed his talent, driving a Max Scherzer slider into the Brewers’ bullpen in left-center to tie the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth. The home run was the first of Broxton’s career.
Second Star(s)– The Brewers’ bullpen is a pedestrian group at best, posting a 4.14 ERA (eighth in the Nationals League) and surrendering 33 homers (tied for third worst in the NL) on the season so far. Last night, however, the Brew Crew’s pen went Nasty Boys on the Nats, as winning pitcher Carlos Torres, lefty Will Smith, hard throwing Tyler Thornberg and gusty closer Jeremy Jeffress held the Nats scoreless over the game’s final four innings to secure the win.
Star of the Game- Max Scherzer has allowed 20 home runs on the year, but none have traveled further than Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ 423 blast to right centerfield last night that gave the Brewers their winning runs. The former Met has struggled so far in Milwaukee hitting .224 with 63 strikeouts in 161 at bats, but his impressive round-tripper was the highlight moment of yesterday’s Brewers’ win.
Valiant in Defeat– Wilson Ramos continued his red-hot June, going 4 for 5 with a RBI in Washington’s losing effort. Ramos is hitting .371 with a 1.094 OPS so far this month. On the year, Ramos has posted a .951 OPS. If that mark holds up over the year, Ramos will become only the 14th full-time catcher since 1950 with an OPS of greater than .950.
Danny Espinosa was hit by a Zach Davies pitch in the second inning of the game, marking the 12th time the Nats’ shortstop has suffered that fate this season. Espinosa (in 2011) and former National outfielder Jose Guillen (in 2005) hold the Washington record for most hit by pitches in a season with 19. Daniel Murphy and Ben Revere were also hit by pitches in the game, making last night the 13th time the Nats have had at least three batters hit during a game. The Washington record for HBPs in a game is four, set on April 6, 2006 against the Mets and equaled on June 5, 2011 against Arizona.
Scherzer allowed multiple home runs in a game for the fifth time in 2016, moving him closer to the Nats’ record of eight multi-home run games allowed in a season that he (Scherzer had eight such games last season) shares with Ramon Ortiz (2006), Mike Bacsik (2007) and Dan Haren (2008).
Daniel Murphy doubled and drove in a pair of runs last night, giving him 20 doubles on the year. His career high of 40, set in 2012 for the Mets, appears to be well in reach. The two bagger ended a five game string where the Nats’ second baseman was held without an extra base hit.
Washington had four batters (Michael A. Taylor, Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon and Espinosa) with three strikeouts each last evening. The game was only the second one since 2005 where Washington has had four players with three or more strikeouts. Last season on July 18th against Los Angeles and Clayton Kershaw, Bryce Harper, Taylor, Yunel Escobar and Clint Robinson each were fanned three times.
Gio Gonzalez takes on Brewers’ veteran Matt Garza this afternoon in the second game of the three game series.
Gonzalez is 2-1 with a 3.62 ERA in five lifetime starts against Milwaukee, but the Nats’ lefty will likely be treading softly when Brewers’ catcher Jonathan Lucroy is at the plate. The Brew Crew’s backstop has six hits in eight with a double and three RBI in his career against Gonzalez.
While Gonzalez may circled Lucroy’s name as an opponent to watch out for, Garza’s attention will likely be focused on many opposing hitters today. Jayson Werth (.412 with two doubles and a homer in 17 at bats), Zimmerman (.357 average with a double in 14 at bats), Ramos (5-13 with a double and a homer), and Harper (3-6, two doubles) have all fared well against the righthander. Garza has had success against Murphy however, holding him hitless in six career at bats.