Randy Wolf dazzled in St. Louis Thursday night to knot the National League Championship Series at 2 games a piece. With the 4-2 victory, Milwaukee guaranteed a game 6 at Miller Park (where they have a MLB-best 61 wins this season) and also snapped an eight-game road losing streak in the playoffs dating back to 1982. The Brewers were in desperate need of a quality start from someone not named Gallardo, and Wolf delivered the most clutch performance of his career. The crafty southpaw dominated Cardinal hitters through seven innings, striking out six while allowing one walk and six hits en route to his first postseason win. His only two blemishes were solo home runs by Matt Holliday and Allen Craig. The familiar K-Rod / Ax-Man combo finished off the game in the final two innings. To nobody’s surprise, Jerry Hairston continued his exquisite postseason play, smacking two doubles and a RBI. Ryan Braun, Yuni Betancourt, and George Kottaras also chipped in with RBIs, as the Brewers climbed out of an early 2-0 hole to rattle off four unanswered runs.
The win, in my opinion, was the biggest in franchise history. The Brewers send Zack Greinke out to face Jaime Garcia tomorrow night in a pivotal Game 5 in St. Louis. It seems as if the Cardinals bats have gone silent; they are 0-for-15 with runners in scoring position since the first inning of Game 4.
Game 6 will be in Milwaukee on Sunday night. Go Brewers!
Ryan Braun solidified his case for NL MVP (if he hadn’t already) with a two home run performance during a Friday night win in Cincinnati. The two blasts made Braun the second Brewer to accumulate 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in the same season, the first being Tommy Harper in 1970. “I’m really proud,” said Braun. “There’s a reason it’s only been done one other time in franchise history. It’s a hard thing to do.” The Brewers beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-3, eliminating them from playoff contention, while the Brewers shrunk their Magic Number to 7.
Oh yeah, Wolf got the win to improve to 13-9, Prince went deep for his 33rd, Kotsay and Kottaras also went yard, and Axford picked up his 43rd save (40th in a row).
Here are Braun’s numbers and National League rank in each category.
AVG: .330 (2nd)
OBP: .396 (4th)
SLG: .590 (1st)
OPS: .986 (1st)
HR: 30 (T-8th)
RBI: 99 (5th)
R: 100 (T-1st)
SB: 31 (T-7th)
There’s something special going on in Milwaukee, Wisconsin these days. The dog days of summer are upon us and the Milwaukee Brewers are hotter than ever — scorching, if you will. Milwaukee has stellar pitching, a loaded offensive lineup with two MVP candidates, and if that wasn’t enough, they began to really flash the leather Monday night at Miller Park.
With a 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Brewers improved to twenty games over .500 on the year (71-51) and thirty games over .500 at home (45-15). Milwaukee is 17-2 in their last 19 games and has a six game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central.
Randy Wolf (10-8, 3.30) was masterful as he went eight scoreless innings, allowing only six hits while walking five and striking out five. He was also the beneficiary of some beautifully crafted defensive gems. Wolf got Andre Ethier to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the first inning. In the second, the Brewers turned the first triple play in the National League this season and the sixth in franchise history. Wolf surrendered a lead-off walk and single to put runners on first and second (Matt Kemp was running on the single but was forced to slide into second base thanks to Josh Wilson’s bluff, making Kemp think it was a ground ball therefore preventing him from reaching third on the hit-and-run). James Loney then broke his bat on a cue shot up the middle; Wilson smoothly fielded and flipped the ball with his glove to Yuniesky Betancourt who threw to Prince Fielder at first base to turn two; Kemp, trying to score from second base on the play, was then thrown out by Prince at the plate thanks to a diving tag by George Kottaras; 4-6-3-2 (the first triple play of that sort since 1973 — 151 triple plays have occurred in between the two). In the third inning, Jerry Hairston Jr. threw out Dodgers catcher Dioner Navarro at home. The fourth inning ended with a double play when Hairston made a diving catch in center then promptly stood up and threw out Ethier at first who was attempting to tag. In the bottom half of the fourth, Ryan Braun capitalized off of Lilly’s lone mistake and deposited his 23rd homer into deep left center on a 0-2 pitch with two outs, giving the Crew a 1-0 lead. The fifth inning saw a 3-6-1 double play, also courtesy of James Loney — who had his first two at-bats result in five outs. Wolf finally had his first 1-2-3 inning in the sixth, getting two ground ball outs with a strikeout of Ted Lilly squeezed in between. With the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, Wolf got Navarro to fly out to Hairston. Jonathan Lucroy entered the game for Kottaras in the eighth and unleashed on a fastball, cranking out his 9th home run of the season and putting the Brewers up 2-0. Corey Hart followed by launching his 18th long ball into right field, giving the Crew a 3-0 lead. John Axford closed the door again, thanks to a game ending double play, Milwaukee’s fourth of the game. Axford earned his 32nd consecutive save and 35th of 2011. Ryan Braun went 2-for-4 on the night, raising his batting average to .328 and stealing his 23rd bag along the way.