It was the story of two competitions in Saturday’s fourteen innings of double-header baseball, and the two could hardly have been more different.
The first competition was literally Steady Freddy Peralta. He threw an entire game and looked sharp from start to finish. In the first case, Peralta induced three contacts. The most impressive of which was a Josh Bell flyout that ended the inning. After the tap, Christian Yelich raced from deep left center to flat left and dived for a fantastic catch near the foul line.
Peralta went on to cross the page in the second. It was his best inning of the game, but it wasn’t his best moment.
Peralta’s best moment was the third inning with Juan Soto in the bat. This came after Peralta allowed Andrew Stevenson to do a lead-off single, after Patrick Corbin put down a sack of Bunt to move Stevenson forward, and after Peralta left Trea Turner. This meant that Juan Soto came on the plate with only one out and bishops in first and second places.
There was a time when Peralta was likely to stall at such a point. Today he simply opened the sequence with a fastball of 94 mph in the zone. It sailed with Soto in Manny Piña’s glove. Peralta sat, took a breath and threw Juan Soto, the 22-year-old world champion Juan Soto, the title winner Juan Soto, the silver beater Juan Soto, the rookie of the year 2018, the runner-up (to Ronald Acuña Jr.) Juan Soto … exactly. equal. Pitch.
Peralta was the first to recognize this It was a great call from Piña (who spared just a couple of innings to make both double header games today) and he was spot on. Soto wouldn’t take over this pitch twice. He swung, made contact, and ended up in 4-6-3 doubles to end the inning.
Peralta dominated for the rest of the game. He did not allow more than four Nationals fighters to get on the plate in an inning and put them down three times in the correct order. He ended the day with just four hits, including a home run. He went one stroke and struck seven. He was the first pitcher in Brewers history to make 10 straight starts with seven or more spikes.
Offensive, the Brewers got things started immediately. Christian Yelich was the first in the first round when Avisaíl García started his ninth home run of the season to put the crew 2-0 up.
The crew added in the third. Kolten Wong opened the inning with his eleventh double of the season. A Willy Adames flyout put Wong in third place, but that wouldn’t matter. Wong had plenty of time to score after Christian Yelich hit a grounder inside the first baseline, behind Josh Bell’s displaced glove, into the right corner of the field. It was an easy stand-up triple for Yelich that would ultimately mean two runs for the Brewers. Avisaíl García came next, beating Yeli with an RBI groundout to give the Brewers a 4-0 lead.
The crew’s offense would be mostly calm for the rest of the day, but they had already given Peralta more than enough run support that would allow only one run.
The second contest was Chaos as opposed to Peralta’s low WHIP offerings.
While the first game had only eight hits and three walks between the two teams, the second competition (only seven innings and) contained twenty hits and eight walks. The two teams made four mistakes. Most of the competition had a frenetic energy and was punctuated by oddities.
Things usually started enough. Brett Anderson allowed some traffic on the base paths in the first part but made a goalless inning. Lorenzo Cain was caught stealing the second time. Willy Adames made a field error in the third (which should have been a base goal).
Trea Turner ran the third inning with a walk, which meant the Nationals were working on a threat because the fast Trea Turner was on the base paths and no one was outside. Sure enough, Ryan Zimmerman threw him in with a line-drive double to the right to give the Nats a 1-0 lead.
Lorenzo Cain led the fourth inning with a line-drive double to the left. He would come over to score on another line to the left, this time from Luis Urías. Urías’ stroke would end the game 1-1.
Cain and Urías each had a day and formed a particularly profitable combination in the second game, in which the two went 6-6. Urías beat Cain twice in the second game.
The Nationals could have opened the game in their fourth inning. Yan Gomez achieved a one-off single. Then it got weird.
Jody Mercer reached for a throwing error from Luis Urías. Josh Bell came in to meet Jon Lester and left. Suddenly the bases were loaded. There was one out. Brad Boxburger was ready in the bullpen. Brett Anderson had thrown 3.1 innings. He allowed four hits and went three batters. Somehow he’d only allowed one run at this point.
The Brewers needed doubles, and Brett Anderson can trigger doubles, but it’s difficult to turn a double against foot-fleet Trea Turner, which happened to be beaten. Counsel thought it best not to tempt those chances and brought in Boxburger.
Turner worked a full count from box, then grounded too short. It was the potential double-play ball the Brewers had hoped for, but Adames realized it and hurried to speed up the game. The ball went under his glove and Turner reached out. The game and inning could easily have gotten away from the Brewers at this point, but Lorenzo Cain ran in from the middle to briefly cover. He tagged Josh Bell, who was in a shabby state.
Somehow the Nats only scored one run to take the 2-1 lead. Box went to Soto to get to Zimmerman, and Zimmerman flew to Cain in midfield to get out of the inning and just give up the one (undeserved) run.
The crew came back in the fifth inning. Christian Yelich singled towards the middle on a liner and came second after a throwing error. The crew would end the game for a second time if Kolten Wong hit his second double of the day and twelfth double of the season to knock in Yelich.
Brent Suter closed the Nats in their fifth, hit two, allowed a single, and eventually set up a goalless frame.
The Brewers have often struggled to produce four runs in one game this season, but they have put in a sixth inning with four runs with apparent ease in game two of the double header. Lorenzo Cain took the inning out with a walk, and Luis Urías tossed him into the left corner of the field with a brace. This gave the crew a 3-2 lead.
Next, Travis Shaw went for a walk. He moved up to second place with a sack fly from Jackie Bradley Jr., which also hit Urías, giving the Brewers a 4-2 lead. Yelich took a stroll and moved up to second with a Kolten Wong single that Shaw scored and extended the lead to 5-2. Willy Adames hit a double that drove at Yelich and gave the crew a 6-2 lead at the end of the inning.
On the sixth round of the Nat, Devin Williams stalled a bit to open the inning, allowing the first two Batters singles. He found his slider and used it to knock out Juan Soto and Ryan Zimmerman.
Eric Yardley finished the game on a solid inning, prompting three straight batters to team up for forceouts on second base. It secured the win, the double header sweep and the series win.
The crew will try to sweep the series tomorrow. It should be a beauty of a pitching matchup between Brandon Woodruff and Max Scherzer.