Nelson stifles Pirates bats for Brewers' first win
After struggling throughout Spring Training, it was 25-year-oldJimmy Nelson who led the Brewers to the victory column.
Nelson limited the Pirates to a pair of ground ball singles and logged a career-high nine strikeouts in seven scoreless innings, and the Brewers' quiet bats broke free in a 6-0 win at Miller Park on Saturday. After the White Sox won earlier in the day, the Brewers needed the result to avoid ending the day as Major League Baseball's only winless team.
"It's definitely nice," Nelson said. "[Getting] that first one, now we're a little bit loose and I'm sure everybody will start playing like we normally do. This is a good team. This is a good team when we're loose. I'm excited to see what happens here."
Brewers second baseman Hector Gomez drove in two runs with a double in the second and scored another in his first start of the season, while shortstopJean Segura hit a two-run home run in the fourth.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED One-pitch escape: Nelson navigated the first four innings on just 42 pitches but found trouble in the fifth, when he walked the first two batters. With former Brewer Corey Hart due to hit, pitching coach Rick Kranitz paid a visit, and Nelson responded by burying a sinker inside that produced a double-play grounder to third base. When Nelson retired Andrew Lambo on a can-of-corn fly out, the Pirates' biggest threat had suddenly evaporated. More >
Kang gets in the starting blocks:Jung Ho Kang had his historical moment, becoming the first position player from the Korean Baseball Organization to start a Major League game when he started at shortstop and batted No. 8 for the Pirates. Kang, who earlier had made one pinch-hit and one defensive appearance, merely joined the company made miserable by Nelson's brilliance. More >
Segura in the swing: The 2014 season was one of frustration and heartbreak for Segura, who spent the winter tinkering with his set-up at the plate. He's seen some positive results, none more so than his two-run home run in the fourth inning, when Segura turned on a Vance Worley pitch and sent it 440 feet to the left field bleachers for a 5-0 Brewers lead. That sort of power was mostly missing last season, when Segura didn't hit a home run until his 88th plate appearance, and finished with five home runs in 557 plate appearances overall. More >
Lind-sanity: When Adam Lind singled through the Pirates' defensive shift in the second inning, it gave him nine hits in his first five games with the Brewers, matching a club record set by Paul Molitor in 1978 and matched by Dave Parker in 1990. Lind nearly set a new franchise mark in the eighth inning when he hit a deep fly to the center-field warning track but settled for a deep out that was caught. More >
"I don't want to just say it's the offense's fault, because it's not. Did I think they would swing better? Yes, I did, and I still think they're a really good offense. Do I think we're going to pitch better? Absolutely." -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, sounding prescient before Nelson took the mound on Saturday, bidding for the team's first win.
"I believe this is a more comfortable role for his style of play -- the DNA he takes on the field. He's a free-swinging, free-playing guy. I never felt the optimum position for him was being the leadoff guy." -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle on erstwhile leadoff hitter Starling Marte, who now bats in the middle of the lineup.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS The last three players with a three-homer game for the Pirates are all in uniform in this series. Aramis Ramirez (April 8, 2001) and hitting coach Darnell Coles (Sept. 30, 1987) are in Brewers colors, and Andrew McCutchen(Aug. 1, 2009) still rocks his black and gold.
WHAT'S NEXT Pirates: The Bucs wrap up the series, and, really, a two-month road trip that began in Spring Training, with the Sunday 1:10 p.m. CT finale against the Brewers in Miller Park. Casey Sadler will make his first big league start in place of Francisco Liriano, on paternity leave. Sadler had begun Spring Training with five hitless innings, and wound up with an ERA of 3.24 in four exhibitions.
Brewers: The Brewers go back to the top of their pitching rotation on Sunday with Kyle Lohse, who cruised through most of Spring Training but now finds himself coming off consecutive duds. After stumbling in his final spring tune-up against the Cubs, Lohse was touched for eight earned runs on 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings against the Rockies on Opening Day, matching his career high for earned runs allowed in a game. He's 11-3 with a 3.72 ERA in 23 games (22 starts) against Pittsburgh.