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Unbeaten Brewers roar into home opener against Twins

Mar 31, 2024; New York City, New York, USA;  Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Christian Yelich (22) is greeted in the dugout after scoring in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Brewers will look to continue their red-hot start when they host the Minnesota Twins in their home opener Tuesday.

Right-hander Jakob Junis will be making his Brewers debut in the opener of the two-game series, while the Twins counter with right-hander Louie Varland.

The Brewers, under first-year manager Pat Murphy, completed a season-opening three-game sweep of the Mets with a 4-1 victory Sunday. Starter Colin Rea allowed one run on five hits over five innings as Milwaukee got off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2018.

After winning their first two games, the Twins were blanked 11-0 at Kansas City on Sunday. Starter Bailey Ober was rocked for a career-high eight runs on nine hits in 1 1/3 innings.

Both Milwaukee and Minnesota were the only MLB teams who were off Monday.

The Brewers’ revamped offense got off to a hot start in New York. Second-year second baseman Brice Turang and veteran Christian Yelich each had five hits to boast .455 batting averages in the early going.

Highly touted rookie prospect Jackson Chourio also had five hits and is batting .417. He drove in a pair of runs in the opening series, stole two bases and made multiple highlight defensive plays in the outfield.

“He stepped up big time,” Murphy said of Chourio, who turned 20 on March 11. “You didn’t know what you were going to get for sure. Quite frankly, his spring training was, at times, very unimpressive. But I think we learned something this weekend. The lights went on and a different kid showed up.”

Junis, who had been primarily a starter in his first six seasons in the majors, was used mostly in relief last season with San Francisco, appearing in 40 games with just four starts. He went 4-3 with a 3.87 ERA and one save and had 96 strikeouts with 21 walks in 86 innings.

Junis is 1-2 with a 5.15 ERA in 10 career appearances (nine starts) against the Twins. He last faced the Twins in September 2022 while with the Giants and was rocked for six runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings in an 8-3 loss.

Varland, beginning his third season, is on an Opening Day roster for the first time. He was 4-3 with a 4.63 ERA las season in 17 appearances, including 10 starts, with Minnesota.

Despite winning two of the first three games, the Twins are hitting just. 210 as a team with one home run. Bryce Buxton is hitting .300 (3-for-10) with three RBIs and a pair of doubles.

Minnesota managed just four hits Sunday, while Ober gave up three of the Royals’ five homers to tie a career high. Four relievers allowed three runs, two earned, on five hits over the final 6 2/3 innings, with the day off allowing the bullpen a bit of a rest.

“Our bullpen came in and did a decent job of basically just doing their job and helping us finish the game right there,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “And getting some of those guys to touch the mound and open up their seasons was important, too.”

The Twins came out of the opening series with key injuries. Third baseman Royce Lewis left the first game with a severe quad injury and will miss at least a month.

Minnesota right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, expected to be in the rotation after being acquired during the offseason, opened on the 60-day disabled list after being diagnosed in mid-March with a right elbow strain. He underwent forearm flexor tendon surgery Friday and will miss the 2024 season.

–Field Level Media

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