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.
20. Craig Counsell, SS/3B
The two-time World Series champion has bounced around the majors throughout his career. After a one year stint with Milwaukee in 2004, Counsell has been with the Brewers since 2007. The Whitefish Bay native is a solid contributor in spot starts in the infield and is a great asset for Ron Roenicke off the bench. He seems to always put together good at-bats and is sure-handed on defense.
19. Mark Kotsay, OF
Kotsay and Counsell could swap spots on this list, but I give the edge to the veteran lefty outfielder due to the number of at-bats he’s accumulated so far in 2011. Kotsay started many games for the Crew during Corey Hart’s absence early in the season. He’s got a strong arm and still shows some pop at the plate.
18. Kameron Loe, RP
The 6’8″ Loe certainly has an intimidating presence on the mound. He was a major contributor out the bullpen for the Brewers last season, posting a 2.78 ERA in 58.1 innings. His 4.18 ERA so far this year may seem a bit alarming, but his 1.18 WHIP is the same as it was in 2010. His opponent batting average is actually lower this season (.229) than it was last (.245).
17. Marco Estrada, RP
After a horrendous 2010 with the Brewers when he posted a whopping 9.53 ERA (12 earned runs in 11.1 innings), Estrada has turned it around in 2011. He’s a valuable piece of the roster, already having made 4 spot starts and 14 appearances all together in 2011. This season he’s 1-2 with a much improved 3.68 ERA to go along with a 1.12 WHIP (compared to a 1.76 WHIP last year).
16. LaTroy Hawkins, RP
The 38-year-old veteran has been stellar so far this year for Milwaukee, boasting a sparkling 0.64 ERA in 14 innings. He was injured to start the season but has looked unhittable since his return from the DL. He struggled with the Crew in 2010 (8.44 ERA in 16 innings), but looks to have put those woes behind him. He continues to be a reliable option in the late innings for the contending Brewers.