Corbin Burnes has emerged as a game-changing starter for the Milwaukee Brewers.
The right-hander attempts to continue his torrid pitching when the Brewers host the Kansas City Royals on Saturday in the middle contest of a three-game series.
The 25-year-old Burnes (3-0, 1.98 ERA) has allowed just two runs (one earned) and 12 hits in 23 2/3 innings over his last four starts. He has struck out 38 and walked six during the stretch.
He fanned 10 in just 4 2/3 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, and gave up one run and five hits in a no-decision. Burnes struck out a season-high 11 on Sept. 9 when he gave up one hit in seven scoreless innings while defeating the Detroit Tigers.
The spectacular stretch is part of a strong season in which Burnes has recorded 74 strikeouts in 50 innings. He has given up just 27 hits.
Burnes said his main focus for the 2020 season wasn’t related to results. It was simply to avoid injury.
“I think a successful season for me every year is a healthy season,” Burnes said prior to Friday’s series opener, won 9-5 by the Brewers. “That’s the first thing on the mind, to get through a season healthy. I put in a lot of prep in the offseason to do the best you can to stay healthy.
“As far as the results side of it, I really had no idea. For me, it was to continue to work on stuff I worked on in the offseason, with the pitches and more importantly with the mental side of it. I knew if I was able to go out and execute pitches the way I wanted to, it was going to be a favorable season for myself, and so far, it has.”
His performance is stunning compared with last season, when he went 1-5 with an 8.82 ERA in 32 appearances (four starts). He served up 17 homers in just 49 innings as batters hit a collective .330 against him.
This season, he has allowed just one homer while holding batters to a .154 average through 10 appearances (seven starts).
His start against the Royals is a big one for the Brewers (24-26), who are currently on the outside of the tight battle for one of the National League’s final playoff spots.
“The most important thing is to win as many baseball games as we can and hopefully sneak our way into the postseason, and go from there,” Burnes said.
Jacob Nottingham hit his first career grand slam and Orlando Arcia (four RBIs) smacked a three-run homer in Friday’s victory. Veteran Ryan Braun departed in the fourth inning with back tightness after going 2-for-2 and improving his September average to .406 (13-for-32) to go with four homers and 13 RBIs.
Kansas City’s loss in the opener was just its second in the past nine games.
The Royals (21-30) let an early 4-0 lead evaporate, and manager Mike Matheny bemoaned other chances that got away as his club left 10 runners on base.
“When we get the runs in through situational hitting, it is a different-looking offense,” Matheny said afterward. “We did come out and give us a chance in the beginning.”
Star catcher Salvador Perez did his part by going went 4-for-5 with a homer, four RBIs and a stolen base. Perez is 15-for-26 (.577) with three homers, five doubles and 10 RBIs in six games since missing 3 1/2 weeks with vision issues.
“What a day all around, even stealing bases,” Matheny said of Perez. “He’s just in a really good place. Coming back from what he came back from, we always talk about how important it is to see the ball, and he’s obviously seeing it well right now.”
The six-time All-Star is batting .368 in 28 games this season.
Left-hander Kris Bubic (1-5, 4.50 ERA) will start for the Royals on Saturday.
Bubic, 23, was winless in his first seven starts before beating the Pittsburgh Pirates in his last outing for his first big league victory. He gave up one run and six hits over five innings.
–Field Level Media