Jesus Aguilar is proving to be quite the fill-in slugger.
Aguilar homered twice and Ji-Man Choi hit a solo home run in his return to the majors as Milwaukee beat the Minnesota Twins 8-3 on Friday night.
“It’s the power, for sure,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of Aguilar. “It’s just kind of hit ability. There’s adjustments made. The last homer’s on a pretty good slider down, two-strike slider down and he still puts a really good swing on it and puts the ball in play, and it ends up going out of the park he’s that strong. He’s doing a heck of a job.”
Brent Suter (3-3) pitched a season-high 5 2/3 innings for Milwaukee, which has won six of its past eight games. The left-hander allowed one run on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts.
Kyle Gibson (1-2) gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings for Minnesota, which has lost four of five. Gibson surrendered eight hits and walked four batters.
“Unfortunately, the home runs got to me tonight,” Gibson said. “Been doing a better job of avoiding those this year and keeping the ball in the park. Story of the night is home runs and walks. If I can keep them away from the free passes and make a couple of 3-2 pitches, just a little bit better 3-2 pitches in some of the situations.”
Max Kepler had two hits, including a two-run home run, for the Twins.
Aguilar has become the Brewers’ regular first baseman with Thames and Braun out. The burly 250-pound Aguilar hit 16 home runs in 133 games for Milwaukee last season and had his third career multi-homer game on Friday.
He has five home runs in 91 at-bats this season.
“If I’m playing, I just try to think about being aggressive in the strike zone, don’t chase, stay with your strengths, go to the middle, all that kind of stuff,” Aguilar said. “I don’t try to put some pressure. I just try to go out there, have fun, make hard contact and that’s it.”
Choi is also getting his chance with Braun on the shelf due to a back injury. Braun was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Thursday and Choi was recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs before Friday’s game.
Choi took a Gibson pitch deep to the bullpens in left-center field in the second inning to open the scoring.
Aguilar hit a towering two-run shot to the second deck in left field an inning later and then hit a solo homer off the foul pole in left in the seventh.
MAUER LEAVES EARLY
Minnesota first baseman Joe Mauer was pulled from the game in the fifth inning with neck tightness and is considered day to day. The injury occurred during the team’s series last weekend at the Los Angeles Angels. Mauer said he had “a little whiplash” after laying out to try and catch a foul ball.
“Today I got out there and it started to stiffen up and getting a little worse, so talking to trainers and coaches, they thought it was best to get out of there before it got any worse,” Mauer said.
Mauer said he’s likely to miss a day or two. Manager Paul Molitor said he doesn’t believe the injury will require time on the disabled list.
Suter used his high 80s fastball to keep the Twins off-balance, using the pitch up in the zone and getting plenty of swings and misses.
The outing was Suter’s most efficient start of the season, but he couldn’t get out of the sixth. Kepler’s sacrifice fly brought home Minnesota’s first run of the game and Jeremy Jeffress got Robbie Grossman to fly out to end the inning.
“I didn’t have to go to too many changeups today because the fastball was really cutting,” Suter said.
Brewers: RHP Zach Davies (right rotator cuff inflammation) will make a rehab start on Saturday at Single-A Wisconsin. . RHP Jimmy Nelson (right shoulder surgery) had a checkup with doctors, who ensured his shoulder is healing properly. Nelson will take 10 days off from throwing before restarting his rehab.
Twins: 3B Miguel Sano (left hamstring strain) had a good workout before the game and Molitor said a rehab assignment for Sano could be Saturday … RHP Ervin Santana (finger surgery) is set to make a rehab start in extended spring training on Monday and could make a minor league rehab start five days later. … RHP Trevor May (Tommy John surgery) made his first rehab start with Triple-A Rochester on Thursday and pitched four innings, allowing one run on four hits, two walks and notching five strikeouts.
Two rookie right-handers meet up in the second game of the series on Saturday evening as Freddy Peralta (1-0, 0.00 ERA) tries to follow up his 13-strikeout debut for Milwaukee. Peralta allowed no hits into the sixth inning to beat Colorado. Minnesota’s Fernando Romero (2-0, 0.54) has allowed one run in 16 2/3 innings in his first three career starts.