MILWAUKEE — When the Brewers exploded for six runs in the seventh inning of last Saturday’s matchup with the Rockies, manager Ron Roenicke admitted after the game that he was especially relieved.
Milwaukee had played nothing but close games since starting its home stand began against the Dodgers, and any breathing room was good breathing room for the Brewers, who’s offense had struggled mightily at times early on in the season.
But as much of an exhale as a six-run inning can be to a struggling offense, Roenicke preached in the past few days that a consistent performance with runs scored throughout would be a true sign of things moving in the right direction.
And on Monday night, Roenicke saw that philosophy work out especially well against the Astros.
The Brewers scored in four different innings — the first, fourth, fifth, and six — on their way to a 6-5 win over Houston. It was only the third time this season the Brewers have managed that, with two of those games resulting in victories. The Brewers are now 2-1 in games when they score in four innings and 6-2 when they score in three or more innings.
“I like what we did offensively today,” Roenicke said. “When we score in four different innings, I think that’s really good.”
Not since the Brewers’ first game against the Braves on April 13 has the offense been able to register a run or more in four innings, and since then, Milwaukee has lost every single game in which they scored in less than three innings.
And against the Astros, every one of those runs counted, as a late, three-run rally gave Houston a chance in the seventh inning. Without that early breathing room, the Brewers likely would’ve given away their first game to the Astros in their last 10 meetings.
“It’s really nice to give our starting pitchers a little slack there,” Roenicke said, “where they don’t have to feel like when they get a guy on third base that they always have to strike somebody out and make sure they don’t score.”
Perhaps more importantly to the win, however, was that some of that scoring came in the first inning — the first time that’s happened since April 10. And with a bit of breathing room for pitcher Zack Greinke, he was able to adjust within the game and be more aggressive on the mound, something Brewers’ pitchers haven’t been able to do in many games lately.
That aggressive approach led to a nine-strikeout performance for Greinke and also gave him room to allow eight hits without putting the game in jeopardy. After the game, he acknowledged that the early scoring and multi-inning scoring played a part in helping him secure his second win of the season.
“It was good,” Greinke said. “It lets you attack a little bit more.”
It’s an important sense of comfort for a pitcher to have, catcher Jonathan Lucroy added.
“It’s important because you know you’re always going to be in the game,” Lucroy said. “And as a pitcher, you know the offense is always going to have your back. … If something happens, you know the offense is going to go out and get after it again. That makes a big difference in the pitcher’s mindset.”
And it also does wonders for a cold set of bats, as the Brewers reached the six-run mark for the first time since coming home from Atlanta.