National League pitchers aren’t swinging the bat in 2020, but Adrian Houser still found a way to pick up the Brewers’ sagging offense.
Houser delivered the Brewers’ first seven-inning start this season and the longest scoreless start of his career in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over the White Sox at Guaranteed
National League pitchers aren’t swinging the bat in 2020, but
Houser delivered the Brewers’ first seven-inning start this season and the longest scoreless start of his career in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field, proving along the way that, yes, it is possible to neutralize Sox slugger José Abreu with a game in the balance.
“Being out in left field, [Houser] was putting on a show the whole game,” said Brewers rookie
It was Mathias — who’d never played the outfield before the Brewers tried him there this spring — manning left field on Wednesday, not the slumping Christian Yelich. And while shaking up the lineup did not produce an offensive outburst, the Brewers did manage to snap Chicago’s six-game winning streak thanks to Houser’s brilliance on the mound and the bottom three hitters in the Milwaukee order. Mathias (in his first big league at-bat), Orlando Arcia and Eric Sogard started the third inning with successive singles against Chicago starter Dallas Keuchel, who was otherwise untouched in seven stellar innings of his own opposite the 27-year-old Houser.
“Those guys [the White Sox], they can swing the bat,” said
The White Sox were the most potent scorers of the 10 teams in MLB’s Central divisions entering Wednesday, but a lone run of support was enough for Houser, who has proven adept at navigating the uncertainties of 2020. In his season debut, he waited out a rain delay of one hour and 42 minutes between the first and second innings of a solid, five-inning start. Then, when his second start was postponed along with the rest of the Brewers’ scheduled series against the Cardinals at Miller Park, he waited three extra days to pitch instead in Chicago, against a White Sox team he saw exactly two weeks earlier when the Brewers played their only exhibition game before the regular season.
Houser was better the second time around. On Wednesday, he retired seven consecutive hitters during one particularly sharp, 19-pitch stretch from the third inning through the end of the fifth to start his second turn through the lineup, then recorded big strikeouts to end the sixth and seventh innings to surpass Brandon Woodruff’s 6 1/3-innings start in Pittsburgh one week earlier.
“I think that it’s such an important step for our young guys, when you get to a point you’re tired,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “You’re a little bit at the end. Getting that last out. Getting a good hitter. It’s part of taking that next step for guys, and he did it.
Houser did it twice.
1) Sixth inning
The batter: Abreu
The situation: Two on, two outs
Abreu delivered a dagger against the Brewers each of the previous two nights in Milwaukee, smashing a tying home run off Corbin Burnes’ seventh-inning fastball of a come-from-behind Sox win on Monday, then hitting a go-ahead single