Monday night’s series opener between the Pirates and Brewers, was all about Stephen Brault and the Pirates offense. The Pirates started the scoring in the first inning, after Andrew McCutchen followed a one out single with a two-run home run to get the Pirates on the board. The Pirates would not add on again until the top of the fifth inning, as Brewers rookie Brandon Woodruff put together a few quality innings in a row. A one out double by Stephen Brault, followed by a two-run home run by Starling Marte, would put the Pirates up 4-0 after Brault had kept the Brewers scoreless through the first four innings. Woodruff would get pulled from the ball game after a lead off double by Josh Bell and a none out single by Gregory Polanco in the sixth. After Jared Hughes threw Josh Bell out at the plate, the Brewers were closing on getting out of the inning after intentionally walking Jordy Mercer to get to Brault. The strategy did not work out for them however, as Brault hit a shot back up the middle into center field to drive in two runs. This made the score 6-0 at that point, and closed the book on Woodruff with five plus innings pitched, seven hits allowed, six earned runs, one walk and three strikeouts.
On the pitching side, it was all Brault for the the first six scoreless innings put together by the Pirates pitching staff on the night. After going to the off speed too often against the Cubs, led to him falling behind in counts and eventually getting hit hard, Brault attacked the Brewers hitters from the very start. This led to him generating some swings and misses, both on the fastball and his secondary pitches after establishing the fastball in the minds of the Milwaukee hitters. Brault’s fastball started the game at his typical 91 and 92 MPH range with the four seamer, and a couple ticks below that with his two-seam fastball. As he got deeper into the game, he started to add velocity. At well above the 70 pitch count, Brault registered 94 and 95 MPH on the radar gun with his four seam fastball, that fueled a strong finish to his six innings of work. The results followed Brault’s aggressive approach, as he pitched six scoreless innings with one hit allowed, one walk and six strikeouts on the night. AJ Schugel, Daniel Hudson, Dan Runzler and Felipe Rivero would combine to allow just two more hits and two more walks in three scoreless innings of relief.
Six runs was not good enough for the Pirates offense on the night however, as Jordy Mercer added to the lead once more with a solo home run off relief pitcher Jacob Barnes in the top of the eighth inning. This would seal the win for the Pirates, as the win snapped the team’s five game losing streak and improved their record to 68-77. The loss dropped the Brewers to 75-69 while hurting their playoff hopes some in their push for either NL Central division title or the final wildcard berth. Tune in tomorrow night at 7:40 eastern time, as Gerrit Cole takes the mound looking to build on a dominant outing, as he takes on the Brewers and their starting pitcher Brent Suter.