Brewers crush Martin Perez, Pirates, with five homers in 10-2 win – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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Who said the Milwaukee Brewers couldn’t hit lefties?

One of the greatest maladies for the Brewers offense in recent seasons − an inability to hit southpaw starting pitching − was cured at least for the time being Wednesday afternoon.

Milwaukee was dead last in Major League Baseball in OPS when facing a left-handed starter in 2023. The year prior, it ranked 25th. And the year before that? 26th. Since the start of the 2021 season, the Brewers slashed .224/.305/.365 against left-handed starters, good for the second-worst OPS in baseball.

But long gone are those issues after Wednesday’s breakout. 

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Well, OK, maybe that’s a bit premature. After all, the Brewers entered the day last in the league in batting average against lefty starters and were second-worst in OPS. So, there’s still some work to be done. 

But a lot of legwork was put in against Martin Perez and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Brewers hit five home runs off of the Pirates lefty on Wednesday, tying a franchise record for most homers against a single pitcher in a game, on the way to a 10-2 drubbing at American Family Field

Brewers outfielder Jackson Chourio hits a two-run homer off of Pirates pitcher Martín Pérez during the sixth inning Wednesday.

William Contreras, Gary Sanchez, Sal Frelick, Joey Ortiz and Jackson Chourio all went yard off Perez, inflicting 1,996 feet worth of damage on the downtrodden Pirates and their veteran southpaw in front of 32,848 fans. 

And the Brewers did it with two of their best hitters, Christian Yelich and Brice Turang, sipping Gatorade and munching on seeds from the dugout for two hours and 22 minutes, too. 

“It’s still really early in the season but I was pleased with today’s effort at the plate,” manager Pat Murphy said.

This is the type of offense the Brewers would like to think they possess against left-handed pitching. It had been a slow start in that area this year, but that’s at least in part due to a small sample size. 

Milwaukee came into the game having faced a right-handed starter in 36 of 42 games. One of the six lefty starters was actually an “opener” who only went one inning before giving way to a righty, too. 

There are more lefties ahead of the Brewers, too, as they embark on a nine-game, 10-day road trip beginning Friday in Houston.

Let’s take a deeper look at three of the lefty-mashers from the win over Pittsburgh. 

William Contreras is ‘unreal’

It can be difficult to properly summarize what Contreras is doing through one-quarter of the season, but the quotes from Milwaukee’s clubhouse do as good of a job as they can.

“Contreras is out of his mind,” Murphy said. “ It’s epic what he’s doing every at-bat.”

Contreras opened the scoring for the Brewers with a three-run homer to right in the third and would later add a single and triple to finish just a double shy of the cycle. 

Contreras’ fellow hitters are left without the proper words to describe what he’s doing – which is batting .359 with a .987 OPS and 23-game on-base streak while playing every single day.

Contreras has been so good and so consistent over the entire season that his OPS across his MLB-best on-base streak is actually lower than his overall OPS by a point.

“It leaves me speechless, honestly,” Ortiz said. “It’s pretty unreal to watch him hit.”

Contreras, who has played in every game dating back to Aug. 20 last season, is on pace to shatter Johnny Bench’s record for plate appearances in a single season by a primary catcher (707). At his current clip of 4.56 plate appearances per game, Contreras would only need 156 games to set a new mark.

Put the whole package together and you see a very clear case for a contender for the National League MVP this year.

Jackson Chourio gets back on track

Chourio, as just about every young player in the majors experiences at some point, has been going through a rough stretch. 

He came into the day without a homer in the last 24 days, a span in which he was hitting just .179 with one extra-base hit and a .403 OPS. 

Murphy gave Chourio some time off last week with four straight games out of the starting lineup with the hope that his 20-year-old phenom prospect could learn by sitting back and watching the action from the dugout. 

Some of the early results were encouraging, but none more than what he showed against Perez. 

After singling in his first at-bat, Chourio put a hellacious swing, violent yet controlled in the way he can do it when he’s going right at the plate, on a changeup from Perez, sending the ball 441 feet out to left field for his fifth homer of the season and first since April 20. 

Chourio believes that some of the time out of the lineup may have indeed helped.

“I think I learned just to go out there and play,” Chourio said. “Take every at-bat like it’s your last and just have a good time.”

Murphy continues to preach patience and perspective when it comes to the young outfielder. 

“The big leagues is tough,” he said. “There’s lessons to be learned. He’s making those steps. He’s doing it better than I’ve seen a lot of young players do it. He’s just 20. He’s struggling now but he’s gaining some confidence. It’s exciting, that swing.”

Joey Ortiz seizing everyday role

Brewers third baseman Joey Ortiz (3) celebrates his solo home run with outfielder Blake Perkins during the fifth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday.

He’s just your average, everyday Joe.

Well, in terms of playing time, that is. 

As far as baseball goes, Joey Ortiz is going above and beyond.

With the news of Oliver Dunn being optioned to Class AAA Nashville prior to the start of Thursday’s game, Ortiz is left as the primary third baseman. And while the full-time gig may have been given to him in a default move, it’s something Ortiz has earned. 

“I feel like ‘Tito’ has taken that step to being an everyday player,” Murphy said. “I really do. That’s big… His handling of defensive situations, his awareness on defense is tremendous. To throw this in there, too.”

After reaching base all five times Wednesday – becoming the first Brewers batter to do so since Willy Adames on Aug. 19, 2023 – Ortiz is batting .311/.418/.733 over his last 15 games. 

Ortiz’s 1.151 OPS in that stretch is fifth-highest in all of baseball, minimum 50 PA.

Now you can expect to see him in the lineup against both righties and lefties all the time.

“It’s good. With the timing it helps out a lot,” Ortiz said. “It’s a comfortability thing.”

Ortiz’s metrics across the board are starting to pop, from his chase rate (24.9%) to his bat speed (74.3 mph, best on the Brewers) to his power numbers (10 extra-base hits in 15 games). 

Murphy sees the potential in the 25-year-old infielder and wants to keep pushing him for more.

“When he swings at a breaking ball in the dirt, I want to tase him,” Murphy said. “I don’t know if that’s legal. He gets that early decision and it drives me nuts. But everything else about his game is tremendous.” 

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