MILWAUKEE — The first member of the Brewers rotation to make it through six innings happened to be the only one who didn’t go through spring training.
The Milwaukee debut of Kyle Lohse couldn’t have started or finished any better for the right-hander. Recording the first five outs on strikeouts, Lohse worked six innings, didn’t walk a batter and allowed just one run on five hits on 87 pitches.
While the Brewers fell 3-1 to the Diamondbacks and lost two key players to injury, Lohse’s first outing was a big positive.
“I feel like everything I’ve done up until now has worked,” Lohse said. “I could have went back out but there’s no sense in pushing it this early considering the last time out I only threw 50-something (pitches). It’s a long season. There will be plenty of time to push that pitch count up there.”
Frankly, nobody knew for sure what Lohse was going to give the Brewers Friday night. Signed on March 25, Lohse pitched in just one spring training game before Opening Day. He kept his arm in shape by pitching to the likes of Scottsdale Community College in Arizona, but the Fighting Artichokes are nothing compared to the big league team from the same state.
Because Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada and Wily Peralta all failed to make it through the sixth inning in the Colorado series, the Brewers bullpen was already taxed. Though Thursday was an off day, Lohse getting through six innings was big.
“Kyle was really good,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “Located his pitches well and had good life on his ball.
“I’m very encouraged with how Lohse looked tonight with having that kind of performance and where that’s going to lead to his next outing and for the rest of the season. We needed an outing like that.”
Early on, Lohse’s pitch count didn’t look like it would let him go very deep into the game. While five strikeouts to start the game is impressive, they also run up the pitch count. Lohse threw 22 pitches in the first inning, but it turned out to be a non-issue.
“They kept fouling off balls you want them to put in play,” Lohse said. “I told the guys ‘Remember that’ because I won’t strike out the side too many times this year. It was well executed pitches. I didn’t want my pitch count getting that high that early but I got it down enough to get through six.”
The run he allowed came on a good piece of hitting by Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. With a runner on third and two outs in the fourth inning, Goldschmidt got the barrel on a change-up that was low and away and split the gap for a double.
“It was a pretty good pitch,” Lohse said. “The only thing we probably could have done was run a fastball back in on him, but we had him set up for that. Major League hitters get those hits sometimes.”
Against a good offensive club, Lohse commanded his pitches and threw 70 percent of them for strikes. He was ahead in the count and was on the attack the entire night.
“That’s me right there,” Lohse said. “That’s what I try to do. I try to put them on the defensive because I get ahead of them and make them hit my pitch. That’s what I was able to do tonight.”