MILWAUKEE — Saturday was one of those tip-your-cap nights to the opposing pitcher.
The Yankees have done that far more often in the second half of the season than their fans would like, and it hasn’t always been warranted. The opposition’s dominance more than occasionally was a reflection of the Yankees’ weak offensive performance more than anything else.
That was not the case against Brandon Woodruff, though. The righthander came in as one of the National League’s better pitchers and honored that status, striking out 10 in eight dominant innings as the Brewers beat the Yankees, 4-1, in front of 41,210 at American Family Field.
“He’s one of the best pitchers in the game for a reason,’’ Aaron Judge said. “He’s got an electric fastball and he was able to use it both sides of the plate. When you’re a guy that can run it up to 98 miles per hour with a two-seam, four-seam combo, mix in a curveball, a slider, I saw a changeup there during one of my at-bats as well, it makes for a day trying to pick your poison.”
Said Aaron Boone, “He had a really good fastball from jump street. Really got after it with Judge, the first batter, and then he started mixing well enough with his breaking balls and a changeup in there too. But I thought his fastball was really good, and throwing it where and how he wanted to.”
Woodruff (11-4, 3.26 ERA) allowed one run, five hits and one walk. The run came on Josh Donaldson’s 15th homer, which made it 3-1 in the fourth. Devin Williams struck out two in a scoreless ninth for his 13th save in 14 chances.
It was a second straight loss for the Yankees (87-58), who saw their AL East lead trimmed to 4 1⁄2 games over the Blue Jays.
The Brewers’ Willy Adames hit a three-run homer for the second straight night and has seven RBIs in the two games against the Yankees. He has 30 home runs and 92 RBIs overall, both of which are career highs by a large margin.
“He goes up hunting; he’ll sell out to what he’s looking for,’’ Boone said. “He got us on a slider last night, I think he got us on a two-seamer tonight, kind of down and in. Both pitches more down in the strike zone, but he’ll sell out to certain things and try to get his swing off and he’s done that 30 times this year. Unfortunately, both nights, it’s kind of been the difference with runners on, obviously.”
Judge stayed put at 57 homers, finishing 1-for-3 with a double and a walk. Giancarlo Stanton struck out four times for the second time in three games and dropped to 9-for-64 since returning from Achilles tendinitis (9-for-75 overall).
Jameson Taillon (13-5, 4.04) wasn’t bad but made one critical mistake, a first-pitch sinker to Adames, who gave the Brewers a 3-0 lead in the third inning. Taillon allowed four runs and four hits in five innings in which he walked two and struck out four.
Victor Caratini walked to start the third andChristian Yellch hit a one-out single to right before Adames made it 3-0 with a 385-foot blast.
Taillon regretted not putting hitters away after getting ahead in the count. “That’s kind of what led to the damage,’’ he said. “I think I went 0-2 to Caratini on the walk, and then 0-2 to Yelich on the base hit, and then the three-run homer. The home run I’m obviously frustrated about, but really I’m more frustrated about what set that up. Just being ahead of guys and not being able to put them away.”
After Donaldson’s leadoff homer in the fourth, Adames made a clean pick of Miguel Andujar’s grounder to short but threw low to first for a two-base error. Adames made a terrific diving stop of Oswaldo Cabrera’s grounder for the first out, and with two outs, Hunter Renfroe made a terrific running basket catch of Kyle Higashioka’s drive into the rightfield corner to end the inning.
After Taillon retired the Brewers in order in the fourth, the Yankees put a runner in scoring position in the fifth when Aaron Hicks singled to start the inning and stole second with two outs, but Gleyber Torres struck out.
The Brewers made it 4-1 in the bottom half when Garrett Mitchell singled with one out and scored on Yelich’s triple into the rightfield corner. Taillon got Adames to fly to short right, not deep enough for Yelich to tag against Judge’s cannon, and Rowdy Tellez flied to center.