Alvarez Grounds Canaries, Milkmen Prevail, 2-0
Henderson Alvarez blanked the Sioux Falls Canaries for seven innings, combining with two relievers to lead the Milwaukee Milkmen to a 2-0 shutout in Game 2 of the American Association Championship series. Zach Nehrir provided the big blow for the Milkmen, hitting his first homerun of the post-season. Tyler Danish took the hard luck loss despite pitching six outstanding innings.
This was a great pitchers’ duel from the start, as Danish and Alvarez each tossed four scoreless innings to begin the contest. Danish allowed a hit in each of the first four frames, but stranded three of those runners. In the third, Brett Vertigan singled with one down, but was picked off on a nice move by the Sioux Falls hurler.
Alvarez was in complete command from the start. He retired the Canaries in order in the top of the first, then gave up a leadoff double to Damek Tomscha to start the second. That brought Alay Lago to the plate, who grounded the ball down a short. Tomscha tried to go for third, but a head’s up play by Mason Davis nailed the runner at third. Lago would later steal second but would be stranded in scoring position.
In the fourth, Mike Hart led off with a double and looked like he was going to score when Clint Coulter lined a ball toward the alley in right-centerfield. However, Nehrir came over to make a great running catch. Hart took third on the play, but was left 90 feet away after Alvarez struck out Tomscha then got Lago to ground back to the mound to end the threat.
That proved to be huge, as an inning later Nehrir gave his team the lead. In the bottom of the fifth, the Milkmen right fielder drilled a 3-2 pitch over the left-center field wall for his first homerun of the postseason.
An inning later, the lead became two. With one out, José Sermo doubled into right field. He moved to third on a ground out bringing Mason Davis to the plate. Davis hit a weak grounder to second, but Davis hustled down the line, diving into first just ahead of the throw. That allowed Sermo to score, giving the Milkmen a 2-0 lead.
After giving up the leadoff double in the top of the fourth, Alvarez retired the next 10 batters. The streak finally came to an end when he hit Tomscha with one down in the seventh, but the runner would remain at first.
In the top of the eighth, the Milwaukee right-hander walked Roy Morales to start the inning and his evening would be over. Alvarez went 7+ innings, allowing two hits and a walk. He struck out four.
A.J. Schugel came on and gave up a base hit to Grant Kay, and it looked like Sioux Falls would get something going. However, Schugel struck out Ryan Brett before getting Logan Landon to hit into a double play.
In the ninth, Peyton Gray came on to finish off the game. He gave up a two-out single to Tomscha, but then got Lago to ground out to end the contest. That gave Gray his first save of the postseason.
Nehrir finished 2-3 with a run scored and an RBI. He is now hitting .571 through the first two games.
The series now shifts to Sioux Falls on Tuesday. Drew Hutchison will get the start for Milwaukee. The Canaries will counter with Tyler Culbreth. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05,
By Robert Pannier