CHICAGO (AP) — Jesse Winker is working on a smooth transition to the Milwaukee Brewers. A few big hits in the team’s first series definitely help.
Winker had two hits and three RBIs, including an important two-run single in Milwaukee’s five-run sixth inning, and the Brewers defeated Jameson Taillon and the Chicago Cubs 9-5 on Sunday.
Christian Yelich, Garrett Mitchell and Brice Turang also had two hits each – part of a 13-hit attack for Milwaukee in the rubber game of the opening set between NL Central rivals. Eric Lauer (1-0) threw 5 1/3 innings of two-run balls and calmed down after a shaky start.
“I thought we were swinging the clubs really well,” said manager Craig Counsell. “I’ve put the ball in play at the right time a lot of times and with the amount of traffic we’ve had that has produced some good results.”
Winker was acquired in a December trade with Seattle. He had a pinch of RBI single in the eighth inning of Milwaukee’s 3-1 win on Saturday.
“I think the first thing we want to do as batsmen is see the ball,” Winker said, “and I feel like I see the ball. I feel comfortable with that.”
Taillon (0-1) was burdened with three carries and seven hits in four innings on his Chicago debut. The 6-foot-5 right-hander signed a four-year, $68 million contract in free agency — one of the biggest moves in a busy offseason for the Cubs.
“There’s definitely some extra adrenaline, but at (this) stage of my career I would have hoped that I learned to deal with that and make the adjustments on the fly and find a way to get to six or seven,” Taillon said.
Patrick Wisdom hit two solo homers for Chicago, which won 4-0 on Thursday’s opening day. Dansby Swanson went 1 for 4 with a walk and an RBI single.
Milwaukee went ahead to stay on Mitchell’s RBI triple in the fourth and then broke it open in the sixth.
Winker’s singles into the gap in the center left brought Turang and Joey Wiemer to a 5:2 lead. Willy Adames followed with another RBI singles against Julian Merryweather.
Brian Anderson added a sacrificial fly and Mitchell had another run-scoring single as the Brewers sent 10 batters to the plate.
Down 9-3 in game eight, Yan Gomes nearly gave Chicago a grand slam, but he had to settle for a sacrifice fly when Wiemer caught his drive on the wall in right field. Cody Bellinger’s fielder choice drove in another run before Wisdom retired and ended the inning.
WALK THIS WAY
The Cubs issued 15 walks in the series, including six in the finals.
“A lot of these are touching the guys for the first time,” said manager David Ross. “Maybe some adrenaline at the beginning, maybe the cold weather, some things like that. I don’t think we’re built that way. But in any case, we have to stay away from free tickets.”
THE CHILDREN ARE ALL OK
Turang, Mitchell and Wiemer are all rookies. Another rookie, Gus Varland, played a scoreless inning in each of his two appearances on the series.
“All four of these guys bring great elements to our team,” said Winker. “They play the game extremely hard, play the game right, and it’s so much fun to watch.”
NOT THAT BAD
Lauer allowed five hits, knocked out six and walked two. The left-hander struggled in spring practice, hitting 15 earned runs in 11 2/3 innings.
“I think that’s kind of a step you take in the season when you go into competitive mode rather than ‘okay, I’m working on things’ mode,” he said.
Brewers: RHP Freddy Peralta starts Milwaukee’s home opener Monday against the New York Mets. RHP Carlos Carrasco is playing in the opener of a three-game set for the Mets.
Cubs: LHP Drew Smyly starts Monday night in Cincinnati in the opener of a three-game streak. RHP Connor Overton takes the mound for the Reds.
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