MILWAUKEE — A day after getting shutdown by one of the best pitchers in baseball, the Milwaukee Brewers busted out offensively against a pitcher that was on a pretty good roll himself.
The Brewers jumped on Pirates left-hander Wandy Rodriguez for five runs in the first inning and put on an offensive show from there, blasting five home runs and three triples en route to a 10-4 victory in the series opener.
According to the Elias Stats Bureau, the Brewers are the first team to hit five home runs and three triples in the same game since the San Francisco Giants did it on May 13, 1958.
“It’s the first time this season that everybody did something in the game,” Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez said. “We came out really aggressive. I know yesterday we had a tough day against one of the best pitchers in the game but we came today with a good approach, drove the ball and this is what happens when everybody puts it all together.”
After getting shut out by Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw on Sunday afternoon, Milwaukee didn’t waste much time getting on the board in the first inning. Following a leadoff walk by Norichika Aoki, young shortstop Jean Segura continued to stay hot by crushing a 432-foot home run off the batters’ eye in dead center.
“He’s a guy who pounds the zone so you need to attack,” Segura said of Rodriguez, who had allowed just four earned runs in his first four starts this season. “You can’t get behind against those guys. We hit him pretty good and got the game.”
The Brewers got a break when a potentially inning-ending double play was bobbled by Pirates shortstop Clint Barmes, allowing Ryan Braun to score. Martin Maldonado followed with a two-out, two-run single to make it 5-1.
“We’ve been pretty good in the first inning this year and we did it again,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “It was a little of everything. The home run with ‘Siggy’, the walks and just putting the ball in play.”
While the Brewers have had their fair share of big innings this season, they’ve struggled to find consistent offense throughout games in which they hang a crooked number.
Monday night, that was no issue.
Back-to-back homers from Yovani Gallardo and Aoki in the fourth and again from Gomez and Yuniesky Betancourt in the fifth opened the game up, while the Brewers tacked on a run in the seventh, as well.
Gallardo’s ability to overcome early command issues and retire the last 13 he faced in his seven innings allowed Roenicke to give his oft-used relievers the night off and instead turn to Alfredo Fiagro and Brandon Kintzler.
“Those are important because you line up your bullpen a lot different when you have a little bit of space there,” Roenicke said. “If you are closer then you have all your guys up again and ‘Ax’ is in there, (Jim) Henderson is in there. You need to stay away from those guys in games that you win.”
Segura continued his torrid start at the plate, finishing a double away from the cycle. At this point, Roenicke is running out of ways to describe just how well his young shortstop is playing the game.
“He’s hitting everything,” Roenicke said. “He’s hitting offspeed pitches, he’s hitting good fastballs, he’ll be up there in a count where they are making tough pitches and he’s fouling off five or six pitches. He’s really playing well.”
Most guys would have never attempted to head to third base on Segura’s triple because they don’t have his speed or would have been caught thinking it was a home run. The ball hit high off the top of the right field wall, narrowly missing another homer.
“I just feel great,” Segura said. “I’m just going out there not trying to do to much and just play my game, relax and have fun. That’s what I’ve been doing all season.”
While the entire lineup contributed in some way throughout the game, Gomez’s contributions are hard to ignore. Finishing 2-for-3 with a walk, homer, triple and three runs scored, the talented center fielder is feeling comfortable knowing he has stability with his new contract and knowing he will be in the lineup daily.
“It’s fun to come here,” Gomez said. “I don’t have to look at the lineup because I know I’m there. I think a little bit of the stress in the back of my head (is gone). I just come here and try to enjoy the game and improve until I deserve the money they pay me. I continue to learn, continue to work hard. I’m here for four more years and if we win games, everything is going to be fine.”