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Tipsheet: Injury-battered Brewers battle on, set brisk NL Central pace

Tipsheet: Injury-battered Brewers battle on, set brisk NL Central pace

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Shaw sends Brewers to 6-5 win over Dodgers in 11 innings

Milwaukee Brewers' Travis Shaw is congratulated after hitting the game-winning RBI single during the 11th inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Milwaukee. The Brewers won 6-5. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

The Milwaukee Brewers have been through some things this season.

As MLB.com notes, they had with 17 players on the injured list as of Sunday morning. They put 13 of those players on the IL during a recent 23-day span.

Yet they still lead the National League Central by one game over the Cardinals.

After designating catcher Jacob Nottingham for assignment, the Brewers had to strike a deal with the Seattle Mariners to regain him and plug him into the starting lineup due to multiple casualties at the position.

Naturally the groggy Nottingham smacked two homers in his first game back as the Brewers defeated the mighty Los Angeles Dodgers for the third consecutive time Saturday.

“He took a great BP in Seattle,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell quipped.

Finally the injury-battered Brewers slipped Sunday during a 16-4 loss. The Brewers left rookie Alec Bettinger in the game to allow 11 runs in the first two innings during his big league debut.

Bettinger allowed two grand slams while taking one for the team during his emergency start.

“We gave him a tough assignment today,” Counsell said. “He gave us four innings, which got us through the game and puts us in good shape tomorrow. It didn't go well, but we go on to the next day.”

On the plus side, the Brewers are close to getting outfielders Christian Yelich (back) and Lorenzo Cain (quadriceps strain) back to active duty.

“That would be a really big deal if we got both of them back this next series in Philly,” Brewers pitcher Adrian Houser said. “Even just getting one of them back is a big deal.”

Writing for USA Today, Jesse Yomtov summed up the impact of that series:

The Brewers won the first three in the four-game set – before getting blown out in the series finale – and their walk-off victory Saturday was the team's ninth win in 12 games, a stretch that had them sitting atop the National League Central with the calendar turning to May.

Brandon Woodruff (1.80 ERA) and Corbin Burnes (1.53 ERA) have been dominant leading the rotation, but they're getting help from right-hander Freddy Peralta, who looks to be figuring it out and on his way to becoming a front-line starter.

Peralta has a 2.25 ERA with 45 strikeouts in 28 innings across six appearances, the last five of them starts. He debuted for Milwaukee as a 21-year-old in 2018 and showed some flashes but couldn't establish himself in the rotation in the two seasons that followed.

If Peralta continues to pitch the way he did in April, there aren't going to be many teams that can match up with the Brewers' top three starters.

Here is what folks are writing about Our National Pastime:

Dayn Perry, CBSSports.com: “The weekend series between the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds was already heavy on intrigue and intensity, and then Sunday's finale happened. The Reds wound up taking the rubber match of the three-game set by a score -- and herein lies much of the story -- 13-12 . . . The two teams combined for 30 hits, exactly half of which were for extra-bases. The two NL Central rivals also teamed up for 10 home runs, two of which were from Kris Bryant and two of which were from Nick Castellanos. Those 10 homers tie the single-game record at Great American Ball Park. Overall, it's just the 17th time in MLB history that two teams have combined for 10 or more home runs in the same game . . . Castellanos was 5-for-6 on the day, and he's now batting .330/.366/.660 with nine home runs. He's now tied with Bryant, J.D. Martinez, and Ronald Acuña Jr. for the major league lead in that latter category. As for Bryant, he's enjoying a nifty bounce-back campaign so far in 2021. Coming off a disappointing 2020 in which he hit .206/.293/.351 in 34 games, Bryant's now batting .323/.405/.708 after 26 games this season. In addition to getting off to a tremendous start in his walk year, Bryant may also be positioning himself as a name to watch as we get closer to the trade deadline. While walk-year "rentals" don't command much these days, the Cubs if they continue back-sliding -- they've now lost seven of nine and are four games below .500 -- may be looking to flip anything they can, especially given ownership's plain lack of commitment to sustaining a winning roster.”

Zach CrizerYahoo! Sports: “Sorry to Kansas City, but the biggest takeaway from April in the American League might be that the division rival Chicago White Sox (+500 to win the pennant) are improving their shot at October glory. Running up the league’s best run differential, the South Siders have boosted both their playoff and World Series odds more than any other team since the start of the season, per FanGraphs’ estimation. And while new (and old) manager Tony La Russa is making some puzzling choices, the big question around this team — pitching staff depth — has been answered forcefully by the no-hitter-twirling Carlos Rodon and the impressive return of Michael Kopech.”

Will Leitch, MLB.com: “[Yadier] Molina is recovering from an injured right foot right now, but he won, pretty much, two or three games by himself in the first month of the season. If the Cardinals figure themselves out by September and reach the playoffs, those games Yadi gave them in April will have been the difference.”

Jeff Passan, ESPN.com: “Jacob deGrom solidified his place atop the mountain with an otherworldly April. He faced 123 batters, struck out 59 of them and walked four. Over five starts, opponents are hitting .136/.163/.271 against him with a 48% strikeout rate and 3.3% walk rate. Throughout the major leagues this season, pitchers are batting .102/.129/.131 with a 47.7% strikeout rate and 2.7% walk rate. In other words, deGrom has turned the Philadelphia Phillies, Miami Marlins, Colorado Rockies, Washington Nationals and Boston Red Sox into a lineup full of pitchers. Oh, and his record, despite a 0.51 ERA, is 2-2, because the Mets are the Mets. Across the East River is the 1b to deGrom's 1a, Gerrit Cole. His strikeout rate is slightly below deGrom's. His walk and home run rates are superior. The stuff isn't quite as good, but that's like saying Cole's Murcielago just doesn't quite stack up to deGrom's Chiron. As valuable as deGrom is to the Mets -- as much as he makes a flawed team a contender -- consider this nugget from Hembekides: Over the past two seasons, the Yankees are 12-6 in games Cole starts -- and 35-35 in games he doesn't.”

MEGAPHONE

“I've been punched in the mouth plenty of times in this game. This game is going to humble you many, many times. Anybody who's played it for as long as we have here knows that. I'm just going to keep pushing forward. That's all I can do at this point.”

Bettinger, on his disastrous big league debut.

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Jeff Gordon is an online sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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