Somehow, Kyle Lohse had to settle down after both benches and bullpens had cleared before he even took the mound Wednesday night. The veteran right-hander was not only able to restore order to the game, but he did so in impressive fashion.
Making his final start of the season, Lohse became the first Brewers pitcher to record a shutout in under 90 pitches since 1992, two-hitting the Atlanta Braves in Milwaukee’s 4-0 victory Wednesday night.
“That was impressive,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “His command was unbelievable. He was down in the zone, worked ahead, threw strikes, mixed speeds well — that really was fun to watch.”
Chaos erupted early in Wednesday’s game, as Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez homered in the top of the first inning and set off a series of events when he stood and watched the ball too long. Gomez exchanged words with Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and catcher Brian McCann blocked his way to home plate, causing the benches and bullpens to clear.
Things hadn’t quite settled down by the time Lohse took the mound for the bottom of the first, but he quickly got people’s attention back to baseball. After Andrelton Simmons led off with a bunt single, Lohse retired 20 consecutive Braves before Evan Gattis singled with two outs in the seventh inning.
“I think it probably got the adrenaline going a little quicker than you are expecting,” Lohse said. “I was just sitting there watching and saw that unfold. I know quite a few guys on that side and I just told them ‘Come on guys. You have the playoffs to worry about and we have to finish up here. Let’s go play some ball.’ We played a clean game after that so it was good.”
Lohse recently had a conversation with Roenicke about his final start of the season. The right-hander had no problem if the skipper decided to end his night a little earlier than usual if things were stressful. In the end, Lohse didn’t find any such situations at all Wednesday night.
After reaching 190 innings pitched with his first out of the game, Lohse reached a $350,000 bonus in his contract.
“I talked with Ron a couple of days before and he asked me what I wanted to get out of it,” Lohse said. “I just wanted to go out and compete and have a good finish to the season. I guess that’s a pretty good finish to the season.”
Lohse was as efficient as he’s been in a Milwaukee uniform, quickly recording outs and keeping his pitch count at a minimum. He needed just 30 pitches to get through the first four innings and was at 54 pitches after six innings.
Finishing at 89 pitches, Lohse’s shutout was just the 11th in Brewers history done in fewer than 100 pitches. Chris Capuano was the last to do it, shutting out the Cubs in 97 pitches in 2006. The last pitcher in franchise history to throw a shutout in under 90 pitches was Chris Bosio against the Angels in 1992.
Bosio recorded shutouts in under 100 pitches three times, while Capuano did it twice. Teddy Higuera, Jaime Navarro and Tomo Ohka were the only other pitchers to achieve the feat for the Brewers prior to Wednesday night.
“They came out swinging. I wasn’t missing too many spots, I was mixing it up, Luc called a great game and you can’t do that without some good defense behind you making all of the solid plays,” Lohse said. “It just boiled down to making pitches and them swinging early in counts.”
Lohse’s performance will certainly be overshadowed by the fight, but the game was really about what he did on the mound. He finishes his first season with the Brewers at 11-10 with a 3.35 ERA in 198.2 innings pitched, saving his best outing for his last.
Roenicke feels things could have gotten out of control if it wasn’t for the way Lohse went about his business.
“I think you get fired up and then somehow you have to calm down,” Roenicke said. “I mean it all starts with Kyle. Kyle goes back out to the mound and just deals. He got into a flow, worked quick. When you are out in the field playing behind a guy that does that, that’s what it’s all about. That’s the ideal game to play behind a guy.”