MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee’s slumping hitters finally busted out and enabled the Brewers to earn their first home victory of the year.
Christian Yelich homered, tripled and drew a bases-loaded walk as the Brewers beat the Cincinnati Reds 9-3 on Sunday to avoid their first 0-5 home start since 1970, the franchise’s inaugural season in Milwaukee.
“I think every time we’ve played here, we’ve heard the same song every night: ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,’ ” said Milwaukee first baseman Justin Smoak, referring to the Bob Marley tune that plays at Miller Park after Brewers losses. “I think last night after the game, a couple of us said, ‘I don’t want to hear that song again.’ ”
The Brewers avoided that fate — Daryl Hall and John Oates’ “You Make My Dreams” played after the game instead — because Smoak and the other struggling hitters in their lineup came through. Milwaukee entered the day hitting .210 but scored eight runs in its final three trips to the plate.
“It was good at-bats,” manager Craig Counsell said. “It was deep at-bats. It was long at-bats. I thought we really did it all day.”
Yelich had been hitting .114 but reached in four of his five plate appearances.
Smoak struck out in his first at-bat but then delivered three straight hits to break out of an 0-for-14 and 1-of-25 slump.
The switch-hitting Smoak, who went 3 for 5, delivered hits from both sides of the plate during a six-run outburst in the sixth inning. That rally included four walks, two with the bases loaded.
“When you’re struggling, you can try and do too much trying to swing your way out of it, but that’s not usually how it works,” Yelich said. “Usually, it’s guys putting together good at-bats and that’s how it comes.”
Milwaukee poured it on in the seventh with back-to-back homers from Keston Hiura and Yelich.
Hiura went 3 for 5 with two runs and two RBIs.
Cincinnati’s Jesse Winker was 3 for 4 with a homer, double and two RBIs.
The Reds were seeking their first sweep at Milwaukee since August 2009 and led 2-1 when starter Sonny Gray (3-1) remained in the game to open the sixth with his pitch count at 92.
Gray gave up three hits to the Brewers’ first four batters of the inning and left with the score tied and runners on the corners with one out. Michael Lorenzen replaced Gray and didn’t retire any of the four hitters he faced as the Brewers eventually built a 7-2 lead.
“It just kind of snowballed the wrong way for us in the sixth,” Gray said.
Eric Sogard walked to load the bases and Hiura singled home Mark Mathias to put the Brewers ahead. Lorenzen then walked Yelich with the bases loaded to extend Milwaukee’s lead to 4-2.
Lorenzen received a mound visit, then walked Logan Morrison to bring in one more run before exiting with the Brewers ahead 5-2. Smoak capped the rally with a two-run single off Cody Reed.
“As much success as Michael has had in his career, right now he’s struggling with his confidence,” Reds manager David Bell said. “We’re going to help him through it and keep looking for opportunities to allow him to pitch through it. I believe in him a ton. We all do. He’s going to get through it.”
Gray gave up six hits or fewer for a major league-record 37th consecutive start. He allowed six hits and four walks in 5 1/3 innings while striking out seven.
The last time Gray gave up more than six hits in a start was Aug. 1, 2018, when he was pitching for the New York Yankees and yielded seven runs in 2 2/3 innings of a 7-5 loss to Baltimore.
Plesac sent home
ndians pitcher Zach Plesac was sent back to Cleveland on Sunday in a rental car after violating team rules and Major League Baseball’s coronavirus protocols, a club official told the Associated Press.
The official said the 25-year-old Plesac went out with friends in Chicago on Saturday night following his win against the White Sox. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said the team got Plesac a car so he wouldn’t be around teammates in the event he contracted the virus.
It is not known if Plesac has been tested since breaking the team’s code of conduct. He will be isolated from the team and can not take part in team activities until he twice tests negative for COVID-19.
The Athletic first reported Plesac was sent home.
Indians team president Chris Antonetti is expected to address Plesac’s situation following the team’s game in Chicago on Sunday night.
Major League Baseball has been emphasizing the need for players to be more careful and follow its protocols in the wake of coronavirus outbreaks with the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals. The episode with Plesac, the nephew of former big league reliever Dan Plesac, is the most high-profile evidence of baseball’s increasing concern about its guidelines.
Last month, Plesac, who has become a reliable starter for the Indians, spoke of the importance of players abiding to the “code of conduct” that every team was required to submit to MLB in hopes of the 60-game regular season taking place.
“Definitely any time you can maintain social distancing is going to be what we have to focus on,” Plesac said July 3. “There are common sense situations, where you see things are packed, or going out to the bars and drinking — doing stuff like that isn’t stuff that’s really important to us right now and shouldn’t be important to us right now.
“We’re given this privilege to be able to come back and play and given this short window to even play. It’s a good time now just to really buckle down and focus on what’s important and work toward something greater at the end of the season and for these couple months, lock in and focus on what we have set for us at the end of the year.”
Plesac didn’t allow a run and limited the White Sox to five hits in six innings on Saturday to improve to 1-1.