Milwaukee’s surge towards the postseason continued Tuesday evening at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. The Brewers beat the Pirates 11-4 behind a superb outing from spot starter Marco Estrada, who tossed seven innings allowing only two runs on no walks while striking out two. Milwaukee tied a season high with seventeen hits and scored seven runs in the second inning, their most in any inning this season, capped by Casey McGehee’s two-run shot, his 10th of the year. Prince Fielder cracked the century mark in RBI, driving in his 100th run with a double in the sixth inning. Nyjer Morgan had four hits, including two RBI, raising his batting average to .314. Corey Hart and Yuniesky Betancourt each had two hits and Jonthan Lucroy collected three base knocks and a RBI, putting his average at a solid .287. Every Brewer starter had a hit except for Estrada, who did have three sac-bunts. Ryan Braun was also a major contributor in the victory, going 2-for-3 with two doubles, two runs batted in, two walks, and two runs scored — he also stole his 27th and 28th bags. His batting average increased to .328 and his on-base percentage rose to .399.
With St. Louis getting pounded by the Dodgers, the Brewers increased their NL Central lead to TEN games, the largest in franchise history.
Milwaukee southpaw Randy Wolf cruised into the seventh inning with a 7-1 lead over the New York Mets Saturday afternoon at Citi Field. Then things began to unravel. The Mets scored five runs in the seventh and three in the eighth to take a 9-7 lead into the ninth inning. However, Milwaukee wasn’t ready to pack it in quite yet. The final act of the game began when Jason Isringhausen took the hill, the rest as they say, is history.
Lucroy walked, Morgan walked, Hart singled.
Then Kotsay walked, scoring Lucroy. 9-8, Mets.
Isringhausen exited, Acosta entered. Braun flew out.
With 1 out, Fielder singled on an 0-2 pitch, scoring Morgan. 9-9.
McGehee then took the first pitch he saw and pushed a grounder through the hole scoring Hart and Kotsay to give the Brewers a 11-9 lead. Then, as is usual, the Ax Man locked it down 1-2-3, earning his 34th straight save and 37th overall.
Milwaukee picked up K-Rod, who got roughed up in his return to the Big Apple. But as good teams — championship caliber teams — do, the Brewers never gave up and stunned Citi Field. Prince Fielder was in full beast mode, going 2-for-5 with a single, home run (28), and four RBI, pushing his season total to a National League-leading 96. Yuniesky Betancourt cranked out his 10th long ball. Ryan Braun went 1-for-3 with a homer (24), two walks and three runs scored. His season batting average sits at .327.
The Brewers have now won 21 of 24 and extended their division lead to 8.5 games, the largest in franchise history.
Casey McGehee deposited three balls into the seats as the Milwaukee Brewers capped a 8-1 homestand with a 10-5 win over the second place Cardinals. McGehee, who had three homers in his previous 355 plate appearances, smacked three out in four at-bats today, giving Milwaukee a three and a half game lead over rival St. Louis and a six and a half game lead over Pittsburgh. Corey Hart also homered while Randy Wolf improved to 8-8 on the season. The Brewers are off Thursday and start a three-game series in Houston on Friday.
Also, take note of SI.com writer Cliff Corcoran’s latest article surrounding the MVP watch in each league, posted below. Corcoran has Ryan Braun ranked #1 with Prince Fielder holding down the #2 spot in the National League race. Stay tuned.
And if you’re keeping track like I am, Ryan Braun went 2-for-4 in the win today, raising his batting average to .324 – good enough for second in the NL (tied with Cincinnati’s Joey Votto). Mets shortstop Jose Reyes sits at .339. Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan is creeping up on averaging 3.1 plate appearances a game, the minimum to qualify for a batting title. T-Plush is hitting .328.
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 send Zack Greinke to the mound tonight looking to take three of four in Arizona. Milwaukee has won four of its last five games on the road, reversing their losing trend when away from Miller Park. Here is Ron Roenicke’s lineup for the ballgame tonight, which resembles something that you might see in game 1 of a playoff series should the Brewers’ win the National League Central.
1. Corey Hart – rf
2. Nyjer Morgan – cf
3. Ryan Braun – lf
4. Prince Fielder – 1b
5. Rickie Weeks – 2b
6. Casey McGehee – 3b
7. Yuniesky Betancourt – ss
8. Jonathan Lucroy – c
9. Zack Greinke – rhp
The Diamondbacks send their best pitcher to the hill in Ian Kennedy, a ten game winner with a 3.39 earned run average and 113 strikeouts in 135.1 innings.
2B: Braun (21).
HR: Braun (18).
RBI: Braun 2 (66); Lucroy (37); Morgan (22); Weeks (43).
Outfield Assist: Braun (Drew at home).
SB: Weeks (8).
CS: Betancourt (3).
What a thriller in the desert. Milwaukee starter Chris Narveson pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing only four base hits while striking out four and walking none in a no-decision. He was staked an early 1-0 lead thanks to Ryan Braun’s first inning solo shot, his second in the past two games. Jonathan Lucroy added an RBI double in the seventh, however Arizona would rally to score twice and tie the game in the bottom of the eighth thanks to Willie Bloomquist’s double off of Francisco Rodriguez. Milwaukee reliever Takashi Saito entered the game in the bottom of the ninth looking to push the Brewers into extra innings. After a lead off double and wild pitch, Arizona found themselves with the winning run – Justin Upton – on third base with no outs. Saito escaped the jam with two groundouts to Casey McGehee and a flyout to Nyjer Morgan. Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson decided to go with Ryan Cook in the top of the tenth, a 24-year-old making his major league debut. Veteran Mark Kotsay started Cook’s career off with a single which was followed by a Corey Hart walk and a balk. Nyjer Morgan promptly sliced a single into right field giving Milwaukee a 3-2 lead. With runners on first and third and nobody out, Ryan Braun slapped a sharp single into right scoring Hart and putting the Crew up 4-2. Cook was lifted in favor of Alberto Castillo who got Prince Fielder to ground into a double play. D-backs reliever Sam Demel then gave up an RBI-single to Rickie Weeks, scoring Morgan and giving Milwaukee a three-run cushion in the tenth. McGehee was called out on strikes for the third out but the damage was done. Brewers’ closer John Axford secured the win, earning his 26th save in the process. Overall, an improbable win for the Brew Crew who moved into sole possession of first place and once again showed why they are the NL Central favorites. Milwaukee won their second consecutive game without a hit from Prince Fielder. Ryan Braun, with three base knocks, pushed his batting average to .320. Arizona shortstop Stephen Drew left in the fourth inning with a fractured right ankle. Carlos Gomez also left in the fourth with a broken collarbone and could miss the remainder of the year. Regardless, the Brewers look to be serious contenders who could make a deep postseason run. Zack Greinke will start game four of the series as Milwaukee looks to take 3 of 4 at Chase Field.
10. Casey McGehee, 3B
Batting behind Prince Fielder, Casey McGehee enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2010, posting a .285 batting average along with 23 long balls and a whopping 104 runs batted in. However he’s struggled mightily out of the gate in 2011, hitting a paltry .234 with only 4 homers and 24 RBI. He’s also been a liability at third, routinely kicking the ball around and forcing manager Ron Roenicke to give him several “days off.” Hopefully he’ll find his swing again; but perhaps he’s not the long-term solution at third base that he seemed to be last season. Mat Gamel anyone?
9. John Axford, RP
The Axe Man gets the job done. Milwaukee always seems to find a closer out of nowhere (i.e. Kolb and Turnbow), but Axford looks like a long-term solution. Last year, as a rookie, Axford went 8-2, posting a 2.48 ERA and closing the door on 24 of his 27 save opportunities. He also struck out an impressive 76 batters in only 58 innings. After struggling early this season, the Axe Man has settled back down, converting 16 of 18 saves (including 13 straight) with a 3.29 ERA while fanning 36 hitters in 27.1 innings. Having stability at the back end of the bullpen can do wonders for a baseball club, and Axford provides that for the Brewers.
8. Jonathan Lucroy, C
Finally, it looks like the Brewers have found a catcher. Drafted in the 3rd round in 2007, Lucroy is one of the best young backstops in the league. He handles the pitching staff very well for his age (24) and has shown excellent pop in his bat – hitting .291 with 6 homers and 27 RBI so far in 2011. Ryan Braun has even gone as far as to say Lucroy should be an All-Star this year. With continued improvement, Lucroy could become one of the best catchers in the game, period.
7. Shaun Marcum, SP
In 2007, Shaun Marcum began to show flashes of his dominating stuff – going 12-6 with a 4.13 ERA and a 1.245 WHIP in the AL East, commonly known as the toughest division in baseball. He improved on those numbers the following year, posting a 9-7 record with a solid 3.39 ERA and 1.163 WHIP before his season was cut short as he underwent Tommy John surgery. After missing all of 2009, Marcum came back strong in 2010, going 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA and a tidy 1.147 WHIP. Marcum made the switch from AL to NL after the Brewers departed with their top prospect, Brett Lawrie, in order to acquire his services. So far he’s pitched like a Cy Young candidate for Milwaukee, posting a 6-2 record with a sparkling 2.78 ERA and an even more impressive 1.017 WHIP. Marcum is a true professional who toes the rubber every fifth day and gives the Crew a chance to win each time. He’ll be a key cog in Milwaukee’s rotation this year and next, and should be handed the ball should the Brewers make the postseason.
6. Corey Hart, RF
The 6’6″ Hart is still one of the best kept secrets around the majors. Hart is a vintage five-tool ballplayer and is a class act as well. The two time All-Star smacked 31 homers to go along with 102 RBI and a .283 batting average in 2010. The Brewers wisely locked him up through the 2013 season, and he’ll become even more valuable to the team should Prince Fielder leave the club to explore his options as a free agent. He bats productively out of the 2 and 5 spots in the lineup, and has even had success leading off. He can steal bags, hit for power and average, has a cannon out in right field, and also sports some of the coolest tattoos in the Bigs. He’s a fan favorite in Milwaukee who should continue to be a monster run producer for the Brewers, giving them the best tandem of corner outfielders in the majors.