It was the story of two games in Saturday’s fourteen double innings of baseball, and the two could hardly have been more dissimilar.
The first contest was all Steady Freddy Peralta, literally. He threw up a full game and looked sharp from start to finish. In the first, Peralta caused three contacts. Most impressive of these was a flyout from Josh Bell that ended the round. The blow had Christian Yelich run from deep left center to shallow left and dive to make a fantastic catch near the foul line.
Peralta then hit the side in the second. It was his best run of the game, but it wasn’t his best time.
Peralta’s best moment came in the third inning with Juan Soto at bat. This was after Peralta allowed Andrew Stevenson to get a first single, after Patrick Corbin put down a bunt bag to move Stevenson forward, and after Peralta walked Trea Turner. This meant Juan Soto came to home plate with just one out and runners in the first and second rows.
There was a time when Peralta risked stumbling in such a place. Today he just opened the streak with a 94 mph fastball in the zone. He sailed in Manny Piña’s glove with Soto’s gaze. Peralta settled in, caught his breath and launched Juan Soto, 22-year-old World Series champion Juan Soto, batting title winner Juan Soto, Silver Slugger Juan Soto, rookie finalist year 2018 (to Ronald Acuña Jr.) Juan Soto … the exact one. even. ground.
Peralta was the first to recognize it was a great choice for Piña (who was only a few innings away from catching both matches in the doubles program today), and he was perfect with the pitch. Soto was not going to face this field twice. He rocked, made contact and sank into the 4-6-3 double play to end the set.
Peralta dominated for the remainder of the game. He allowed no more than four national hitters to come home in any inning and seated them in order three times. He ended the day with just four hits, including a home run. He walked a batter and struck out seven strikes. He became the first pitcher in Brewers history to make 10 straight starts with seven or more strikeouts.
Offensively, the Brewers got things going right away. In the first, Christian Yelich was first when Avisaíl García clocked his ninth home run of the season to give the crew a 2-0 lead.
The crew added in the third. Kolten Wong opened the round with his eleventh double of the season. A flyout from Willy Adames put Wong up to third place, but that wouldn’t matter. Wong had plenty of time to score after Christian Yelich hit a down player just inside the first baseline, past Josh Bell’s moved glove, and into the right corner of the pitch. For Yelich, it was an easy triple stand-up that would ultimately mean two points for the Brewers. Avisaíl García then came to bat and hit Yeli with an RBI strikeout to give the Brewers a 4-0 lead.
The crew’s offense would be pretty quiet for the rest of the day, but they had already more than enough backed Peralta, who would only allow one run.
The second contest was, unlike Peralta’s weak WHIP offers, chaos.
While the first game had just eight hits and three walks between the two teams, the second game featured (just seven innings and) twenty hits and eight walks. The two teams made four mistakes between them. Most of the contest had a frenetic energy and was punctuated with quirks.
Things started off fairly normally. Brett Anderson allowed some basic trail traffic in the first, but had a scoreless heat. Lorenzo Cain was caught stealing second place in the second. Willy Adames made a field error (which should have been a hit) in the third period.
Trea Turner started the third inning with a walk which meant the Nationals were working on a threat as the quick Trea Turner was on the base trails with no one outside. Sure enough, Ryan Zimmerman knocked him out with a straight double to give the Nats a 1-0 lead.
Lorenzo Cain led the fourth inning with a double on the left line. He would come to score on another line to the left, this time from Luis Urías. Urias’ kick would tie the game at 1-1.
Cain and Urías each had a matchday and formed a particularly winning combination in Game 2, where both went 6-6. Urías hit Cain twice in Game 2.
The Nationals could have opened the game in their fourth inning. Yan Gomez reached with a single takeout. Then things got weird.
Jody Mercer came up with what was essentially a Luis Urías throwing mistake. Josh Bell came in to pinch the blow for Jon Lester and walked. Suddenly the bases were loaded. There was one. Brad Boxburger was ready in the pen. Brett Anderson pitched 3.1 innings. He allowed four hits and walked three batters. Somehow he had only allowed one run at this point.
The Brewers needed a double play, and Brett Anderson can induce double plays, but it was difficult to turn a double play against the fleet of feet Trea Turner, who turned out to come at bat. Counsell thought it best not to take the chances and called on Boxburger.
Turner worked a full Box count, then grounded short. It was the potential double play ball the Brewers were hoping for, but Adames, realizing it, rushed the play. The ball slipped under his glove and Turner reached out. The game and the inning could have easily escaped the Brewers at this point, but Lorenzo Cain ran from center to short cover. He spotted Josh Bell, who was mistaken in a disrepair.
Either way, the Nats only scored one point on the game to take a 2-1 lead. Box walked Soto over to Zimmerman, and Zimmerman flew to Cain in center field to come out of the round with only giving up the one (unearned) run.
The crew returned immediately in the fifth round. Christian Yelich scored on a center liner and reached second place with a throwing error. The crew tied the game for the second time when Kolten Wong netted his second brace of the day and twelfth brace of the season to strike at Yelich.
Brent Suter stopped the Nats in their fifth, removing two, allowing only one, and ultimately setting up a scoreless frame.
The Brewers have often struggled to produce four runs in a game this season, but they had a four-run sixth inning with apparent ease in Game 2 of the doubles program. Lorenzo Cain started the set with a walk, and Luis Urías hit him with a brace in the left corner of the pitch. This gave the crew a 3-2 lead.
Then Travis Shaw took a walk. He came in second on a Jackie Bradley Jr. fly that also scored Urías and put the Brewers ahead 4-2. Yelich hit on a walk, then moved up to second on a Kolten Wong single that scored Shaw and increased the lead to 5-2. Willy Adames scored a brace which led Yelich and left the crew in the lead 6-2 at the end of the round.
Sixth in the Nat, Devin Williams hesitated a bit to open the inning, allowing singles to the top two hitters. He found his cursor and used it to take out Juan Soto and Ryan Zimmerman.
Eric Yardley ended the game with a solid inning, prompting three straight batters to end up in forced outs at second base. He secured the win, the double sweep and the series victory.
The crew will try for the sweep of the series tomorrow. It should be a beauty of a pitching match between Brandon Woodruff and Max Scherzer.