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Eric Thames has a penchant for game-changing home runs this season.
Thames hit a two-run homer that accounted for the game’s only runs as the Milwaukee Brewers slipped past the Minnesota Twins 2-0 on Tuesday. Thames has three home runs in the past six games.
”I’d say that’s a hot streak Josh Jackson Color Rush Jersey ,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
Eight of Thames’ 12 homers have put the Brewers on the board and seven have given his team a lead.
Milwaukee broke through in the fifth against Minnesota starter Jake Odorizzi (3-6) when pinch-hitter Nate Orf walked and stole second before Thames lined a homer that just cleared the right-field fence.
”It was a cutter that didn’t get in far enough,” Odorizzi said. ”I just didn’t execute it, plain and simple. I just didn’t get enough break on it. Right pitch, just bad execution and it turns out to be the deciding factor.”
Thames reached base three times in four at-bats. After the game, he credited Milwaukee’s pitching, which held Minnesota to two hits.
”Our bullpen has been the hammer for us,” Thames said. ”They have been the ones to pick us up, but we need to start scoring more, getting guys on base and driving them in and give them breathing room.”
It wasn’t just the bullpen on this day.
Milwaukee starter Junior Guerra (5-5) pitched five shutout innings. He gave up two hits while walking three and striking out eight and pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the first after giving up a double and two walks.
”Being able to put up a zero up there and not let them score was very big,” Guerra said through team translator Carlos Brizuela. ”Walks are very lethal, especially for a starter.”
Josh Hader pitched a season-high three innings in relief for the Brewers and didn’t allow a hit. Closer Corey Knebel notched his ninth save in 11 attempts by striking out the side in the ninth.
Both starting pitchers held their opponents in check but struggled with high pitch counts. Guerra threw 89 pitches. Odorizzi gave up two runs and four hits in five innings. He walked four and struck out nine but threw 109 pitches.
The Twins fell to 1-7 on their current nine-game road trip.
The Twins became the first team whose first baseman, Joe Mauer, played an entire game and had no putouts or assists since Edwin Encarnacion did it with Toronto against Baltimore on Aug. 25 Taven Bryan Color Rush Jersey , 2012. This has happened just six other times in the past 20 years and never to the Twins.
”There wasn’t a ground ball today, which is a baseball oddity,” Molitor said. ”I can’t really explain it other than Odorizzi, we know, is a fly ball guy.”
In the ninth, home plate umpire Marty Foster called Jake Cave out on strikes but didn’t raise his arm right away with the signal, prompting an argument from Molitor.
”It looked like, as simply as I can state it, that he wasn’t going to make the call,” Molitor said. ”Jake made the mistake of walking away, and it looked like (Foster) put his arm up after the fact. He said that he had called it right away but that he was choking on his Nicorette mints.”
Twins: Recalled LHP Gabriel Moya from Triple-A Rochester and optioned RHP Zack Littell to Rochester. Littell was the losing pitcher in Monday’s 10-inning game. …2B Brian Dozier didn’t start so he could rest but entered the game in the seventh. ”It’s always tough to sit (Dozier),” Molitor said. ”I think if he had his druthers, he would play 162 games and start them all.”
Brewers: OF Christian Yelich didn’t start for the fifth consecutive game due to lower back tightness but entered in the ninth as a defensive replacement. ..OF Lorenzo Cain (left groin strain) is eligible to come off the DL on Wednesday Minkah Fitzpatrick Color Rush Jersey , but Brewers manager Craig Counsell said he likely won’t be in the lineup right away. ”There’s enough caution there that we’ve got to get over the last hurdle,” Counsell said. ”We’re not to 100 percent yet.” … RHP Zach Davies (right shoulder tightness) is dealing with back soreness and stiffness. ”He won’t throw until that’s gone,” Counsell said. ”That’s going to set him back.”
Twins: Jose Berrios (8-6, 3.52 ERA) gets the start in the three-game series finale. Berrios will face the Brewers for the first time in his career.
Brewers: Chase Anderson (6-6, 4.18) has held opponents to a .208 batting average this season.
Oakland offensive coordinator Greg Olson was quite clear about what the top priority will be for coach Jon Gruden’s new staff with the Raiders.
Everything from the smallest details like how practice is conducted to bigger decisions about personnel and scheme will be made with the thought of how it will help Derek Carr develop into a top-flight NFL quarterback.
”We grow as Derek Carr grows,” Olson said Wednesday. ”We drafted this guy to be that franchise quarterback. We feel like he has the potential to be that guy that can be here and play for 10 more years. It’s up to us to try and get that out of him. We’ll do everything in our power to make sure that that happens, from practice to offseason programs, to what we’re doing defensively in practice, all those things will be designed to help Derek’s growth.”
Carr showed steady improvement from his spotty play as a rookie in 2014 when Olson served his first stint as offensive coordinator in Oakland to a breakthrough 2016 season under Bill Musgrave that garnered him MVP support and helped him earn a $125 million, five-year contract extension.
That steady ascension hit a speed bump last season as Carr played under his third coordinator in four years after Todd Downing replaced the fired Musgrave. Carr matched his career high with 13 interceptions and recorded his worst totals in yards, touchdowns and passer rating since his rookie year.
”This guy has to get some continuity,” Olson said. ”The fact that they signed Jon Gruden to a 10-year contract, that’s going to provide that stability that he needs and the continuity that he’s going to need. He’s going to be in a system now. He’s going to be coached by a head coach that’s going to be the play-caller. He’s completely hands on with the quarterback position Mike Hughes Color Rush Jersey , and that’s the first time Derek will have, first time he’s going to have an offensive head coach that has a quarterback background and will be hands on with him on a day-to-day basis. I just see that growth curve skyrocketing because of that.”
Olson and new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther spoke to the media for the first time since officially joining Gruden’s staff last week. Both coaches have ties to Gruden, with Olson having worked as Gruden’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in Tampa Bay in 2008 and Guenther considering Gruden’s younger brother, Jay, one of his closest friends after spending three years together as assistants in Cincinnati.
The two coordinators had talked to Jon Gruden over the years about the possibility of being on his staff if Gruden ever decided to return to coaching and leaped at the chance soon after Gruden returned to the Raiders.
”Cincinnati made a strong push to keep me there, but the opportunity to come out here with Jon and start this thing from the ground up was way too intriguing,” Guenther said. ”I just looked at it as an opportunity I couldn’t refuse.”
Guenther will be tasked with rebuilding a defense that struggled the past two seasons, leading to the midseason firing of coordinator Ken Norton Jr. The Raiders improved a bit in the final six games under John Pagano but didn’t make nearly enough impactful plays despite the presence of 2016 AP Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack.
The Raiders lacked enough consistent pass rushers and the secondary got picked apart at times with rookies Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu missing almost the entire season with injuries.
Guenther called Conley his ”favorite” cornerback in last year’s draft and believes the pieces are in place starting with Mack to build a capable defense.
”Having a talent like that and ability of a guy like that, certainly you want to make it the centerpiece of the defense,” he said. ”We have to continue to develop our younger players to bring those guys up to speed and add people as we go through the draft and free agency. He’s a guy that you can really build a foundation through and around. He’s an exciting guy to be able to coach for sure.”
NOTES: Guenther called NaVorro Bowman a ”prototypical” middle linebacker and hopes he doesn’t leave in free agency. … Olson was noncommittal about the status of RB Marshawn Lynch, saying he would be doing him a ”disservice” by evaluating his play in 2017 before taking a more thorough look at the film.