Preview: Brewers vs. Cubs
MILWAUKEE — Fans of the Milwaukee Brewers should already be accustomed to nail-biting finishes after last season, but the team has shown no signs of making things any easier in 2018.
The Brewers have won five games this season and all but one of them have been won in the final inning:
They drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning at San Diego on Opening Day, and the Brewers followed that with a five-run ninth, including a three-run homer by Ryan Braun, for an 8-6 victory in Game 2 of the season.
After opening the home portion of the schedule with a loss to the Cardinals, Milwaukee rallied back the next night and walked off after Christian Yelich and Braun hit back-to-back home runs in the ninth for a 5-4 victory.
Now, after suffering through two games without even a single run, the Brewers bounced back to life with another walk-off victory Friday, evening their four-game series with the Cubs at a game apiece.
“This is part of the roller coaster, this is part of the ride,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “This is what the baseball season is all about. There are going to be tough games, there are going to be games that are a ton of fun.”
His squad will try to build on that momentum Saturday as the series continues with Chicago’s Yu Darvish (0-0, 10.38 ERA) and Milwaukee’s Zach Davies (0-1, 9.53) taking the hill for their second outings of the season.
Darvis, the Cubs’ $126 million offseason acquisition, did not fare well in his first appearance for Chicago. He served up a two-run homer in the opening inning at Miami and couldn’t get out of the fifth, giving up three more runs before giving way to the Cubs’ bullpen
Only 59 of his 102 pitches were strikes in that outing, but Darvish admitted he relied heavily on his fastball and slider against the Marlins and plans to expand his arsenal against Milwaukee.
“I’ve got a lot of pitches, including my fastball,” Darvish said. “So I’d like to include all those pitches and combine them all for my next outing.”
Darvish has faced the Brewers just once in his career, and he was tagged with the loss while allowing three runs on six hits in five innings for the Dodgers last August in Los Angeles.
Signed to a six-year deal, though, Darvish knows Saturday’s meeting is likely the first of many in what’s shaping up to be a fierce rivalry.
“There will be a lot of opportunities for me to face them,” Darvish said through his interpreter. “So I hope to put in a very nasty image as a pitcher to (division rivals).”
Davies wasn’t overly sharp in his 2018 debut either. He took the loss in Milwaukee’s home opener, giving up seven runs (six earned) on eight hits while striking out six without a walk over 5 2/3 innings of work.
“It’s probably one of the worst games to go out there and not have your stuff and kind of give it up,” said Davies, the Brewers’ leader last year in victories (17), starts (33) and innings (191 1/3). “It’s a fun day, and when eight runs go up on the board by the other team, it puts a damper on the day.”
He has fared well against the Cubs in the past, going 5-4 with a 3.90 ERA in 10 career starts, including a 2-2 mark with a 3.66 ERA against Chicago last season.