MILWAUKEE (AP) — Brandon Woodruff wasted no time bouncing back from an uncharacteristically poor performance in his season debut.
Woodruff threw five shutout innings, Omar Narváez homered and doubled, and the Milwaukee Brewers opened their home schedule with a 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday.
“Today was a better step in terms of getting back to who I am,” Woodruff said. “I’m not quite on the train tracks yet, but I’m getting there.”
Woodruff (1-1) struck out two and allowed just three hits and a walk. The return to form came five days after he allowed seven runs — matching a career high — and lasted just 3 2/3 innings in a 9-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs. He had opened the loss to Chicago by walking three men and hitting a batter.
The two-time All-Star had no such control problems Thursday, throwing 65 of his 89 pitches for strikes. He also showed his poise while facing adversity in the third inning.
The Cardinals trailed 2-0 but had two on with two outs when Woodruff got ahead of Paul Goldschmidt 1-2 in the count before two borderline pitches got called balls. Goldschmidt then hit an apparent inning-ending grounder but reached on catcher’s interference to load the bases.
Woodruff worked his way out of the jam by getting Tyler O’Neill to hit a fly to shallow right.
“I think last year I probably would have let that get to me a little bit and maybe not executed as well,” Woodruff said. “But in that moment, I just kept telling myself to take a breath, clear it out, reset and worry about the next pitch. I was able to do a pretty good job of that.”
The Brewers gave Woodruff an early lead and delighted an announced sellout of a crowd of 42,794 by scoring four runs in the first three innings off Adam Wainwright (1-1).
Kolten Wong ripped Wainwright’s first pitch for a triple leadoff down the right-field line and came home on Andrew McCutchen’s two-out single up the middle.
Milwaukee extended the lead to 2-0 in the second when Narváez belted an 85-mph cutter from Wainwright over the right-field wall for his first homer since Aug. 11 and first RBI of this season.
The Brewers added two more runs in the third. Christian Yelich hit a leadoff double off the center-field wall and scored on Hunter Renfroe’s two-out single. Narvaez followed with a double to left-center that brought home Rowdy Tellez, who had reached on a one-out walk.
“I just tried to keep it simple, tried not to do too much,” Narváez said.
Wainwright (1-1) struck out seven and allowed eight hits and two walks in 4 1/3 innings.
“Just real sloppy,” Wainwright said. “There were times I executed well and there were probably a lot of times where I normally would have executed a lot better. Too many mistakes early in the game in the middle of the plate.”
Milwaukee added one more run in the sixth as Wong singled home Jace Peterson, who reached with a single and two walks.
The Cardinals’ only run came when Tommy Edman homered off Jandel Gustave in the eighth. Trevor Gott and Gustave each pitched two innings.
MOVING UP THE CHARTS
This marked the 306th regular-season game featuring Wainwright and Yadier Molina as a starting battery, tying former Chicago White Sox teammates Red Faber and Ray Schalk for the third-highest total in major league history. The record is owned by Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan with 324 starts together.
Albert Pujols, successful on 14 straight stolen base attempts since last being caught in 2015, was on a second with one out in the second inning when he took off for a third in an apparent attempt to catch Woodruff by surprise.
It didn’t work. Woodruff easily threw Pujols out at third.
“I’d come set two pitches in a row, and I think I’d kind of fallen into a pattern of taking a breath, and I think I’ve noticed it,” Woodruff said. “I think for whatever reason, I just held on a touch longer… and I was able to step off in time.”
Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said Luis Urías is “progressing fine” and said there’s a possibility the third baseman could take some control at bats in Arizona this weekend. Urias has been running the bases.
Urías hasn’t played yet this season due to a quadriceps issue that has him on the injured list.
These two teams continue their four-game series Friday night with Miles Mikolas (0-0, 4.91 ERA) starting for the Cardinals and Freddy Peralta (0-0, 6.75) starting for the Brewers in a matchup of right-handers.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism