First the really good news: tonight’s game ran 2:22, which is about as Buehrle-esque as you can get. We’ve had innings longer than that this season, both good ones and bad ones.
Next, the almost-good news: Dallas Keuchel was masterful, going seven innings on 97 pitches, giving up just one run on five singles and a walk, and ringing up 8 K’s. He had the top and middle of the Brewers’ lineup looking pretty damned ridiculous, getting Avi García to regress to what he hit like when he played for the Sox. And Codi Heuer was equally masterful in two innings of relief, perfect with three more whiffaroonies.
For the record, that was the first time this year a Sox starter has made it past six.
The only weak moment was the top of the third, when the bottom third of the Milwaukee order got to Keuchel for three straight solid singles, beginning with one by Mark Mathias in his first big-league at-bat, leading to his first big league run, scored when Eric Sogard drove him in.
Offensively ... well, let’s talk about the defense. Very nice. Handled a couple of real hard shots. Gotta say, the D is the biggest pleasant surprise this year — yes, even bigger than the pen, which was mostly good last year. Going into this game, the Sox had positive defensive runs saved in both Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs tallies — four in B-R, six in FG. That’s better than average in both cases, which is amazing. Last season ended up at -56, 2018 at -61. Those are minus signs, not hyphens. You get the idea.
OK, guess we have to get to the offense. Danny Mendick, who came into the game hitting .077, had three hits. The rest of the lineup, which came into the game hitting a combined roughly 53 gazillion, matched him. Nomar Mazara did manage to get on twice, once by making a nifty catch of a slider with his shoe, and the other via one of the two Sox walks off Adrian Houser.
Hitting into three double plays and having Luis Robert caught stealing for the first time in his career didn’t help. Blame it on Houser, who only needed 87 pitches to cruise through seven innings, 57 of them strikes. He now has a season ERA of 0.75, so the Sox aren’t the only players he’s blowing away. Though it should be pointed out Houser only had five K’s, so there was contact being made. David Phelps and Josh Hader did the finishing-up work.
Milwaukee at least had the sort-of offensive excuse that of their three best hitters, one is injured, one has taken a COVID-19 opt-out, and one has been doing his best Daniel Palka imitation all season and got benched for the night.
All good things must come to an end, including six-game winning streaks. The Sox are now 7-5 with one-fifth of the season gone — well, at least one-fifth of the season, because it could end just about any old time.
The Sox and Brewers wind up their season series Thursday night, an important game not just because they all are when there are only 60, but because we get to learn whether Gio González can hold his own against an actual team, not just the woeful Royals.