MILWAUKEE — For a good chunk of the first half of the season, the Milwaukee Brewers couldn’t buy a quality start let alone a shutout.
After becoming the last team in baseball to collect a shutout this season — finally getting their first on June 15 in Cincinnati — the Brewers now have seven shutouts in their last 30 games after Saturday night’s 6-0 victory over Miami.
Yovani Gallardo worked 6 1/3 innings and didn’t allow a run, as the Brewers shut out the Marlins for the second night in.
“Yovani had great command today,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “Curveball really good, fastballs to both sides, sliders were good. When we command the ball, we’re pretty good and tough to get a lot a runs off of.”
Though the two shutouts after the All-Star break have come against baseball’s worst offensive team, Gallardo and Kyle Lohse’s outings the last two nights have continued a turnaround in Milwaukee’s starting pitching.
Once the worst starting staff in baseball, the Brewers have slowly climbed up to 27th with a lowered ERA of 4.80. With the bullpen continuing to pitch well, Milwaukee hasn’t allowed a run in 22 innings dating back to the fifth inning of July 14th’s 5-1 victory in Arizona.
“(We’ve pitched) a lot better,” Roenicke said. “I think there’s been some adjustments. I think some of the guys we knew were going to pitch well eventually. We all thought Peralta sooner or later was going to get it together with his stuff, once he got his command. Yovani we knew was going to pitch better.
“It’s good to see. Early in the season when we were getting down by so many runs early, it was tough on the offense and tough sometimes to stay in a ball game.”
Gallardo started Saturday with a 25-pitch first inning due largely in part to a 10-pitch at-bat put together by Marlins leadoff hitter Adeiny Hechavarria. The right-hander turned what could have been another short outing around by throwing no more than 15 pitches in an inning until a 19-pitch sixth inning.
“You don’t want to start off with a 10-pitch at-bat, but he fouled off some pretty good pitches,” Gallardo said. “He was battling up there. After that the main thing was to keep the ball down and make them put the ball in play.”
Brewers shortstop Jean Segura juggled a ball hit by Marlins left fielder Juan Pierre to start the sixth inning. A play that could have been made but was ruled a hit cost Gallardo a few pitches and may have led to his exit in the seventh inning.
Starting the inning at 92 pitches, Gallardo walked Marlins center fielder Marcell Ozuna on four pitches and allowed a base hit to second baseman Derek Dietrich. After getting pinch-hitter Donovan Solano to fly out to right field, Gallardo’s night was done at 105 pitches.
“He was efficient with his pitches,” Roenicke said. “I thought his rhythm was really good. That’s the guy that we need to continue on with.”
For the Brewers to have a chance to make a push toward the .500 mark in the second half, the starting pitching must continue to throw the ball as well as they have of late.
“It’s a good way to start the second half,” Gallardo said. “With Wily (Peralta) that last game in Arizona, he threw the ball well. We’ve thrown pretty well, the bullpen also. It’s just a matter of staying consistent in the second half, and we’ll go from there.”
Peralta will take the mound Sunday against a Marlins team that hasn’t scored a run in 24 innings. From where the starting pitching was just weeks ago, Roenicke will take the progress no matter the lineup on the other side.
“I think we’re pitching a lot better so I don’t want to say it’s the offense that we are facing,” Roenicke said. “I know one thing, when we don’t pitch well, everybody hits us hard. It’s just nice to see us throwing the ball well.”