Milwaukee scratched out another one-run victory at Miller Park courtesy of Casey McGehee’s first inning, two-out, two-RBI triple which was sliced sharply down the right field line. Prior to McGehee’s triple, Ryan Braun saw his bat split in two and the ball drop just inside the foul line in right field, scoring Corey Hart who smacked a double off of Cubs’ starter Ryan Dempster to lead off the game. Chris Narveson earned the victory, allowing two runs on eight hits over five innings. He left in the sixth with the bases loaded and nobody out, but Kameron Loe would pick up his teammate by getting consecutive ground balls to get Milwaukee out of the inning unscathed. K-Rod was sharp in his Miller Park debut and Axford closed the door for his franchise record tying 25th save in a row. On another note, with the Florida Marlins late scratch of first basemen Gaby Sanchez, Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder became the only player in baseball to start each and every game for his respective squad. Prince has been in the starting nine for all 104 games for the Brew Crew, as well as the All-Star game (in which he earned MVP honors). Ryan Braun notched three base hits in Tuesday’s game, raising his batting average to .326 on the season, second in the National League. The Mets’ Jose Reyes, the senior circuit’s leading hitter, went 0-for-5 Tuesday, lowering his average to .346. The Brewers’ send Zack Greinke to the hill tomorrow to face Chicago’s Carlos Zambrano. As of now, the Brewers sit a half game back in the tightly contested NL Central.
The Milwaukee Brewers have a number of candidates who could come away with a National League Silver Slugger Award at season’s end. Let’s take a closer look.
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee’s cornerstone left fielder, should have no trouble winning his 4th consecutive Silver Slugger. The Hebrew Hammer has already smacked 12 home runs (tied for 2nd in the NL) and picked up 37 RBI (5th in NL), along with a steady .307 batting average. Braunie also leads the entire National League in total bases with 109.
Brewers all-star first baseman Prince Fielder is off to a torrid start as well, having collected 11 homers (tied for 3rd in the NL) to go along with an NL leading 41 RBI. His 102 total bases lead all NL first baseman and are good for 4th overall in the league. Prince won the award in 2007, the year he lead the NL in home runs while becoming the youngest player to ever hit 50 long balls in a season. That year Fielder also came finished 2nd in NL slugging percentage, trailing only Braun. Cardinals superstar Albert Pujols has won the Silver Slugger for NL first baseman the past 3 seasons; however his down year, Fielder is in prime position to snatch up the honor in 2011.
Milwaukee second baseman Rickie Weeks sits tied for 5th in the NL with 101 total bases. Among NL second baseman, Weeks has scored the most runs (36), is tied for the most hits (58) and doubles (12), and is 1st with 9 homers. His 19 RBI are good for a 5th place tie. Rickie is also hitting at a career high .286 average. Dan Uggla, the 2010 recipient of the Silver Slugger for NL second baseman, is batting a paltry .183. With only 6 fewer at bats than Weeks, Uggla has 22 less hits and 35 fewer total bases (along with less home runs, RBI, runs, doubles, triples and walks). Chase Utley, the winner of the award from 2006-09, just returned from the disabled list this past week and has collected only 18 at-bats.
Yovani Gallardo, last years winner at NL pitcher, is off to another good start. Yo has 5 hits in 27 at-bats, with 1 HR and 3 RBI. However, Chicago Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano (who took home the award in ’06, ’08 and ’09) is currently leading the race for the Silver Slugger, batting .375 (9 for 24) with 1 HR and 4 RBI. His 14 total bases lead all major league pitchers, and are 6 more than any other hurler.
Emerging star Jonathan Lucroy leads all eligible major league catchers with a .328 batting average. Among NL backstops, Lucroy is tied for 2nd in both home runs (5) and RBI (23). But be on the lookout for Atlanta catcher Brian McCann (the NL winner 4 of the last 5 years, including the last 3 in a row), who leads NL catchers in RBI with 25 and is hitting a solid .281 with 4 long balls.
For the second straight year the Brew Crew could have multiple Silver Slugger Award winners. I’d count on two or three.