Jared Koenig and Zack Greinke now have something in common with the Brewers

BOSTON -- Zack Greinke certainly isn't bad company to be mentioned in if you're a pitcher.

That's where left-hander Jared Koenig found himself on Saturday, as he was lined up to be the Milwaukee Brewers' "opener" for the second consecutive game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Koenig became the first Brewers pitcher since Greinke to start two straight; Greinke actually started three straight from July 7-13, 2012.

How did that happen? Greinke was ejected in the first inning of his July 7 start at Houston, took the ball again the next day and then also started the first game out of the all-star break in Pittsburgh five days later.

Koenig faced four batters in Friday's 7-2 victory and retired two before handing the ball over to previously scheduled starter Bryse Wilson, who then navigated the next 5 ⅓ innings.

"It's something unique and I'm just happy to try and help the team however I can," said Koenig, who broke convention and spoke to reporters before his latest start Saturday. "If the first three out of four guys are left-handed and we have three left-handers in the bullpen, I can come out and do that and at least get through those guys and then have the starter come in and face them.

"They've only got to face them twice before they get to the third time and really, it sets up in that kind of way. I'm OK with it. Whatever works."

The thinking on Milwaukee's part was to give their right-handed starters -- Colin Rea was next out of the chute behind Koenig on Saturday -- one fewer time to face the top of the Boston lineup.

Including switch-hitter Connor Wong, five of the first six Red Sox regulars hit from the left side of the plate on Friday.

Brewers manager Pat Murphy takes out pitcher Jared Koenig in the first inning Friday night against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Brewers manager Pat Murphy takes out pitcher Jared Koenig in the first inning Friday night against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

"It wasn't mapped out long in advance because we didn't know how that last series was going to go down," manager Pat Murphy said beforehand. "But once it did and we saw their lineup, you start to jump into the Red Sox and look at what you need to do. Then a couple guys on the staff and I kind of discussed it.

"And then you start thinking about it for the next day. The question is, what do we do tomorrow?"

The start was the seventh of Koenig's career, with three of those now coming at Fenway Park. He entered the game 4-1 with a 2.61 ERA in 14 appearances (20 ⅔ innings).

"It's like, just adding another one to it," he said. "Going out and just trying to get quick outs."

Word from the Boston side was the Red Sox were mildly annoyed by Milwaukee's tactics; the Red Sox didn't post their lineup earlier before the game Saturday as is protocol as something of a protest.

Then, they reconfigured it so as to have three right-handed hitters among their first five.

As it turned out, Koenig struck out three of the four batters he faced to conclude his second straight game of effective work.

Could Koenig start once more in the series finale Sunday? Murphy was asked after the game.

"I think that's a little too much," Murphy said with a chuckle. "He did another nice job today and Colin went in there and battled and gave us what we needed."

For his part, Koenig said he'd be open to trying to tie Greinke on Sunday.

"I would assume they're not going to throw me back out there," he said. "But if they text me and say, 'Hey, we need you,' then if I'm feeling good tomorrow, I don't see why not.

"But that's ultimately their decision, not mine."

Brewers swing a minor trade

The Brewers also consummated a minor trade before the game Saturday, acquiring right-hander Garrett Stallings and cash from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for right-hander Thyago Vieira and right-hander Aneuris Rodriguez, a minor-leaguer.

Stallings, a fifth-round pick in 2019, is 0-1 with a 5.67 ERA and WHIP of 1.63 in 11 appearances (four starts) for Class AAA Norfolk this season. He’s also struck out 25 in 27 innings.

In 88 career appearances in the minors (54 starts), Stallings is 27-23 with a 5.41 ERA, WHIP of 1.37 and 378 strikeouts in 379 ⅓ innings.

Vieira was designated for assignment by the Brewers on Monday after posting a 5.64 ERA in 16 relief appearances.

Rodriguez, 19, had been pitching in the Arizona Complex League after spending the previous two years in the Dominican Summer League.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Jared Koenig and Zack Greinke now have something in common with the Brewers