HR: Betancourt 2 (7); Hart (13); Braun (17); Weeks (19)
RBI: Betancourt 4 (34); Hart 2 (31); Braun 2 (64); Weeks (42); Morgan (21); Gomez (19)
E: Betancourt (11, throw)
The Brewers’ return of all-star slugger Ryan Braun happened to coincide with the return of their powerful offense. Milwaukee hit five home runs, including three in the first inning, as they cruised to a 11-3 win over the Diamondbacks. Corey Hart started the game of with a bang, depositing a bomb deep into left center. Nyjer Morgan promptly followed with a single, and Ryan Braun drove him home with his 17th long ball on the season. Yuniesky Betancourt had his first career two-home run game, running his total to seven on the year. Rickie Weeks also went yard for the 19th time in 2011. Yovani Gallardo tossed six solid innings en route to his 11th victory. Milwaukee improved to 52-46 on the season and sits 0.5 game back of Pittsburgh in the top heavy NL Central.
The 82nd All-Star game has come and passed and Thursday brings MLB’s second half – which never fails to stir up drama. The NL has clinched home field advantage in World Series with a 5-1 victory over the AL All-Stars. The Milwaukee Brewers had three starters voted in, however, Ryan Braun sat out due to an ailing hamstring. Rickie Weeks hit lead-off and went hitless, but did steal a base and score a run. Fielder, starting at first base and hitting clean-up, delivered the big hit of the night – a three-run jack off of Texas starter C.J. Wilson – and was named the All-Star game MVP. At the end of the contest the Brewers made a drastic roster move. Milwaukee now has K-Rod and the Ax-Man at the back end of their pen. With Rickie Weeks playing like his hair is on fire, if Braun and Fielder keep mashing, the Brewers could be in line for a deep postseason run. Here are the top ten teams in baseball right now…
1. Philadelphia Phillies (57-34, 1st in NL East by 3.5 games)
Roy Halladay: (11-3) 2.45 ERA, 138 SO, 1.02 WHIP
Ryan Howard: (.257 BA/.353 OBP/.475 SLG) 18 HR, 72 RBI
2. Atlanta Braves (54-38, 2nd in NL East, 3.5 GB)
Jair Jurrjens: (12-3) 1.87 ERA, 65 SO, 1.07 WHIP
Brian McCann: (.310 BA/.381 OBP/.514 SLG) 15 HR, 50 RBI
3. Boston Red Sox (55-35, 1st in AL East by 1.0 game)
Josh Beckett: (8-3) 2.27 ERA, 94 SO, 0.95 WHIP
Adrian Gonzalez: (.354 BA/.414 OBP/.591 SLG) 17 HR, 77 RBI
4. New York Yankees (53-35, 2nd in AL East, 1.0 GB)
CC Sabathia: (13-4) 2.72 ERA, 126 SO, 1.16 WHIP
Curtis Granderson: (.269 BA/.361 OBP/.575 SLG) 25 HR, 63 RBI
5. San Francisco Giants (52-40, 1st in NL West by 3.0 games)
Matt Cain: (8-5) 3.06 ERA, 105 SO, 1.10 WHIP
Aubrey Huff: (.236 BA/.290 OBP/.361 SLG) 8 HR, 44 RBI
6. Milwaukee Brewers (49-43, 1st in NL Central, tied with STL)
Yovani Gallardo: (10-5) 3.76 ERA, 104 SO, 1.36 WHIP
Ryan Braun: (.320 BA/ .402 OBP/ .559 SLG) 16 HR, 62 RBI
Prince Fielder: (.297 BA/ .415 OBP/ .575 SLG) 22 HR, 72 RBI
7. Texas Rangers (51-41, 1st in AL West by 1.0 game)
Alexi Ogando: (9-3) 2.92 ERA, 78 SO, 1.01 WHIP
Adrian Beltre: (.273 BA/ .314 OBP/ .499 SLG) 19 HR, 71 RBI
8. St. Louis Cardinals (49-43, 1st in NL Central, tied with MIL)
Jaime Garcia: (9-3) 3.22 ERA, 100 SO, 1.25 WHIP
Lance Berkman: (.290 BA/.404 OBP/ .602 SLG) 24 HR, 63 RBI
9. Detroit Tigers (49-43, 1st in AL Central by 0.5 game)
Justin Verlander: (12-4) 2.15 ERA, 147 SO, 0.87 WHIP
Miguel Cabrera: (.311 BA/ .430 OBP/ .549 SLG) 18 HR, 59 RBI
10. Arizona Diamondbacks (49-43, 2nd in NL West, 2.0 GB)
Ian Kennedy: (9-3) 3.44 ERA, 106 SO, 1.15 WHIP
Justin Upton: (.293 BA/ .375 OBP/ .506 SLG) 15 HR, 46 RBI
If the season ended today:
1. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Red Sox
2. Jose Bautista, RF, Blue Jays
3. Curtis Granderson, CF, Yankees
1. Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers
2. Jose Reyes, SS, Mets
3. Matt Kemp, CF, Dodgers
AL Cy Young
1. Justin Verlander, SP, Tigers
2. CC Sabathia, SP, Yankees
3. Jered Weaver, SP, Angels
NL Cy Young
1. Jair Jurrjens, SP, Braves
2. Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies
3. Cole Hamels, SP, Phillies
The Boston Red Sox defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 12-3 in a Sunday afternoon rubber match at Fenway Park. Yovani Gallardo took the loss and saw his ERA rise to 4.11 after giving up five earned runs. Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield stymied the Brewers all day, but did give up home runs to Nyjer Morgan (2) and Prince Fielder (20). The Brewers finished 2-5 on the road trip that began in Chicago. Before their series with the Cubs began at Wrigley Field, Milwaukee had won eight of their last ten games and were riding high after a weekend sweep of rival St. Louis which vaulted them into first place in the NL Central. Yet with the Cardinals scuffling as of late, the Brewers find themselves still tied atop the division. Ron Roenicke’s crew has the most drastic home/road split in baseball. The Brewers are an astounding 25-9 at home, the best in the majors; however on the road they are an abysmal 15-24. They return home tomorrow to take on the Tampa Bay Rays; Chris Narveson will toe the rubber for the Crew and oppose Jeff Niemann, who gets the nod for Tampa Bay.
Before we get to player #4, let’s recap the top 10 so far.
10. Casey McGehee, 3B
9. John Axford, RP
8. Jonathan Lucroy, C
7. Shaun Marcum, SP
6. Corey Hart, RF
5. Rickie Weeks, 2B
4. Yovani Gallardo, SP
Gallardo is 44-27 in his career with a commendable 3.69 ERA. Yo was an All-Star and Silver Slugger Award winner in 2010 and looks to be on his way to a second straight Midsummer Classic (8-3, 3.76 ERA in 2011). He also boasts back-to-back 200 strikeout campaigns (2009 & 2010). Gallardo signed a long-term extension with Milwaukee and won’t become a free agent until the 2015 season.
The Milwaukee Brewers have a great collection of players on their current roster. Unlike most teams, however, they’ve built their squad from the ground up with home grown talent. It started in 2002, when Milwaukee took a risk and reached on a hefty first baseman with an excellent bloodline – a guy who is now simply know as The Prince. After taking Fielder with the 7th overall pick in ’02, the Brewers followed up by selecting second baseman Rickie Weeks 2nd overall in ’03. As every Brew Crew fan is aware of, Milwaukee took Ryan Braun 5th overall in the loaded ’05 draft; but for some reason the 2004 draft doesn’t receive much attention. The Brewers whiffed on their first rounder that year, selecting pitcher Mark Rogers who has yet to perform anywhere near where the team thought he would; but in the next round Milwaukee struck gold, drafting a young stud by the name of Yovani Gallardo. Now in 2011, it’s Fielder (’02), Weeks (’03), Gallardo (’04), and Braun (’05) leading the club to what looks to be a promising season – leaving Milwaukee fans everywhere dreaming of a NL Central title, and perhaps even more.
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.