The Milwaukee Brewers capped off the July 4th weekend with one of those marquee moments you see throughout a long baseball season. The 5-2 walk-off victory against the Chicago Cubs was by no means a season-altering win, though it was one of those moments that will be highlighted when the end-of-season stories and highlights are put together.
At first, it seemed like luck just wasn't on the Brewers' side, as Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki got a good bounce off the outfield wall and scooted his way around the bases for a go-ahead inside-the-park home run. But, as they have much of this season, the Brewers found a way to claw back.
A Christian Yelich bases-loaded walk with the team down to its last out in the bottom of the 9th inning helped pushed the game into extras, where a stellar 10th inning from Brad Boxberger gave way for Victor Caratini to send the home fans home happy.
While not technically part of last week's slate, it was impossible to put this piece together without pointing out the win.
When last week did come to a close, the Brewers officially reached the statistical midpoint of their 2022 season on pace for 92 wins.
The success isn't a surprise, as they were picked by many to lead the division with the Cardinals as the only real competition. But the "how" has been interesting. Craig Counsell's team has played extended time without top starters Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff (more on him in a bit), the middle of the lineup has battled nagging injuries all year and Christian Yelich is now the team's everyday leadoff hitter.
Nevertheless, a 92-win pace is something to celebrate. It is also something that has the chance to increase with better health hopefully on the way.
Here is this week's edition of Brewers Week In Review:
Current Standing: 46-35 (1st in NL Central)
The Good: Brandon Woodruff is back.
Brewers' ace Brandon Woodruff made his long-awaited return to the mound last week. To say it went well would be a gross understatement.
Woodruff first toed the rubber Tuesday in Tampa Bay, where his line of 5 innings, 2 hits, 1 ER and 10 strikeouts made everybody quickly forget about his absence. He then backed it up in a big way on Sunday with a 6-inning, 0-run, 8-strikeout performance against the Pirates.
There was some legitimate concern that Woodruff would need some time to return to his usual dominant self. That hesitation can now be swept aside thanks to his 11-inning, 8-hit, 1-run, 18-strikeout week.
The Bad: The bottom of the rotation.
The Brewers came away with a semi-disappointing 4-game split in Pittsburgh over the weekend. The two games the team lost were started by Adrian Houser and Aaron Ashby, respectively.
Their combined stat line: 6 innings, 10 hits, 7 runs, 4 home runs, 2 walks. Then to add on to it even further, the team placed Houser in the 15-day IL with a right flexor strain following his start.
The great news from the week is that Woodruff is back and dominant (and Freddy Peralta is ramping up his activity). The bad news is the bottom of the rotation had a rough showing.
-Brandon Woodruff (2 starts, 2-0, 11 innings, 8 hits, 1 run, 18 strikeouts, 0.82 ERA)
Stat Of The Week:
Video(s) Of The Week:
Tweets Of The Week:
Next Week: vs. CHC, vs. PIT
by Ben Kenney
Somehow, some way, the Milwaukee Brewers finished up another winning week with Chi Chi Gonzalez and Jason Alexander starting three of their seven contests. If I had to guess how many of Alexander and Gonzalez's three starts the team would win against two playoff-contending teams, I would've guessed none. Instead, the team won two of three -- the latest being Sunday's 10-3 triumph over the Blue Jays.
It seemed like the Brewers turned the corner away from their extended struggles with last weekend's sweep of the Cincinnati Reds. That proved to be true as this week progressed, as a split against a very good Cardinals team and taking 2 of 3 this weekend against the powerful Blue Jays gave the club a 4-3 week and has stabilized them back atop the NL Central (alongside St. Louis).
The context of the 4-3 seven-day stretch makes the result a bit more impressive. The team is still playing without star pitchers Brandon Woodruff (good news coming on that front) and Freddy Peralta, second baseman Kolten Wong and others. Manufacturing wins with spot starters on the mound is a sign of a good baseball team. The Brewers have done just that, and now get set to welcome back some reinforcements with the division race heating up.
Here is your Week In Review for the Milwaukee Brewers:
Current Standing: 42-33 (1st in NL Central)
The Good: Leadoff Yelich (again).
It isn't often I get proven exactly right as a year progresses. Last year I called for Craig Counsell to move Christian Yelich to leadoff as the playoffs approached, as Yelich was doing next to nothing hitting third, yet was getting on base just enough to be able to help the team from the leadoff spot.
The move ended up coming nearly eight months later, but it has paid off in massive ways. Yelich looks like a different hitter now 18 days after becoming the team's regular leadoff man. This week he hit .320/.469/.869, led the team in hits with 8, scored 5 runs and reached base via walk seven times. His full line since moving to leadoff on June 8: 22/72 (.305), 2 HR, 6 RBI, 13 runs, 11 walks, .397 OBP.
In that time the Brewers have averaged 4.61 runs per game, helping a season total that has hung around the middle of the pack in the MLB.
There were many other good things to note from the week, including Alexander and Gonzalez continuing to hold their own, Corbin Burnes' mastery and a power-packed week from Willy Adames and Tyrone Taylor. My focus here is still on Yelich, as his work from the leadoff spot could be the thing this team needed to start rising up MLB's offensive rankings.
Oh, and some 'good' to note entering this upcoming week: Brandon Woodruff is back and starting on Tuesday.
Also, the City Connect jerseys are sweet. And they led to two wins over the weekend.
The Bad: Adrian Houser
It has been a rough month of June for Adrian Houser. He's now allowed 18 runs in 27 2/3 innings (5.86 ERA) and is 1-3 in those appearances. His start on Friday against Toronto got bad fast, as a 5-run second inning handed him the loss in the team's 9-4 defeat.
Houser's ERA now sits at 4.50 on the season after a string of really solid starts in April and May. His struggles make Woodruff's return even more important, as the rotation has some big-time holes behind the always-dominant Corbin Burnes.
We'll see how much a changing of the month will help Houser return to his early-season form.
-Corbin Burnes (2 starts, 2-0, 14.2 innings, 3 ER, 1.84 ERA, 19 Ks)
Next Week: @ TB (2 games), @ PIT
The Brewers are going to Pittsburgh next weekend. Get ready for the full Oneil Cruz experience...who if you haven't heard of yet, just wait until Thursday.
The train is back on the tracks for the 2022 Milwaukee Brewers. The team was badly in need of a good week after a 2-9 start to the month of June saw its lead in the NL Central evaporate. That's exactly what manager Craig Counsell and company got, as a weekend sweep of the Reds made up for a 1-2 set in New York against the Mets and allowed them to close the week at 4-2.
There are many storylines to note, none bigger than Counsell finally surpassing Phil Garner for most managerial wins in Brewers history. The team's 10-2 triumph in New York on Wednesday got him that milestone after it took a total of 11 games to win Counsell the final 2 he needed.
Another big story came Saturday morning when the club decided to designate OF Lorenzo Cain for assignment. Cain was a significant piece of the team's run to the NLCS in 2018 and was a clubhouse staple since signing with the club in January of 2018. In a classy move, the Brewers made the tough call on the day Cain reached 10 years of MLB service time, ensuring Cain would receive full pension benefits moving forward.
Now, on to the baseball.
Current Standing: 38-30 (T1st in NL Central with St. Louis)
The Good: Leadoff Yelich
There is a lot of "good" to note from the week, including good power performances from Hunter Renfroe (3 HRs, 1.137 OPS) and Willy Adames (2 HRs) and Jason Alexander's first career win.
My biggest storyline is the emergence of a new Christian Yelich. Counsell made the call to move him up to the leadoff spot (a move I've wondered about for some time) a little more than a week ago. Yelich has contributed consistently since that point, as he's reached base safely in 9 of 10 games since the switch, he's scored 8 runs and his year-long slash line has risen to .242/.325/.706.
By no means is he the Yelich of 2018, but the power numbers and consistency just weren't there when he was in the 3 slot. This version of the former MVP should get fans excited, as he's become an on-base machine at the top of the lineup and now consistently sets up Renfroe, Adames, Rowdy Tellez and others with RBI opportunities.
Counsell deserves a tip of the cap for sliding him up to leadoff and give Yelich some credit as well for adapting to a new role. This team will win baseball games thanks to his production at the top of the lineup.
The Bad: Not Much
There really isn't much "bad" to note from the week. Tuesday's loss in New York was just a dud of a performance, kind of a carry-over from the two-week-long struggle the team had. Then Thursday's loss happens during the long season, with an error in the 8th giving the Mets the lead and the tying run being thrown out at the plate in the 9th.
Maybe I'm an optimist. I view the team's sweep of the Reds as a great turning point from the long skid, especially with some key players getting set to return to the field.
Some individual struggles that are worth mentioning: Aaron Ashby (4 ER in 4.1 innings), Luis Urias (4/21, .547 OPS).
-Hunter Renfroe (6/21, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 4 BB, .286/.423/1.137)
Next Week: vs. STL, vs. TOR
Put nicely, it was a forgettable week on the diamond for the Milwaukee Brewers. The team entered last Monday's game against the Phillies needing just one win to put Craig Counsell into a tie with Phil Garner for most wins as a manager in Brewers history.
Well, it took until Sunday to reach that mark. The team was swept at home by the Phillies and lost the first two games to a horrid Washington Nationals team. It seemed like everything that could go wrong did just that throughout the week, as Josh Hader allowed his first regular-season runs in nearly a year (and blew a save), Corbin Burnes didn't have his best stuff and every other starter not named Jason Alexander got hit hard.
The Brewers are a team that prides itself on great pitching, a great bullpen, good defense and just enough offense to get by. Not one of those facets was working, as the team was outscored 43-18 during the 1-5 week. The losing streak was finally ended at eight with Sunday's 4-1 win at Washington to avoid being swept. The streak sent the team back into second place in the NL Central, though, and now has them in a neck-and-neck battle with the Cardinals.
Here is the review of a poor week of Milwaukee Brewers baseball:
Current Standing: 34-28 (2nd in NL Central, 0.5 games back of St. Louis)
The Good: Jason Alexander had another strong showing
The Brewers have gone 1-2 in Jason Alexander's first three career starts. The sub-par record hasn't been a result of any of his shortcomings, though, as the 29-year-old rookie has thrown 16.2 innings thus far and allowed only 4 earned runs.
Two of those starts came this week. Alexander first held a dominant Phillies lineup to only 1 run through 5 innings during Tuesday's 3-2 loss (the Josh Hader blown save game).
He followed that performance up by scattering 7 hits over 4 2/3 innings to help the Brewers get their first win in 9 tries.
Alexander's final line for the week: 2 starts, 0-0 record, 9.2 innings, 14 hits, 2 earned runs, 5 walks, 3 strikeouts, 1.97 WHIP, 1.86 ERA.
During a week where the Brewers gave up a total of 43 runs in six games, they actually only allowed 4 runs in the two started by Alexander. It sounds crazy to say, but he was the only real stable force in what usually is a dominant rotation. With Brandon Woodruff still on the mend, Alexander will likely get a few more starts as the weeks go by, something he's undoubtedly earned.
Some other good to note: Counsell moved Christian Yelich up to the leadoff spot this week and he hit the hell out of the baseball. He isn't 'back,' but there were some really encouraging signs.
The Bad: Everything else.
I don't know how much needs to be said. The team went 0-5 and was outscored 43-18.
But here are some poor performances to note:
Sunday's win should do a lot towards getting the team back on the right track, but it was probably the worst week the Brewers have had in years. Here's to the start of another week.
-Andrew McCutchen (.364/.440/.985, 8 hits, 1 double, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 4 runs, 3 walks, 2 SB)
-Christian Yelich (.423/.444/.982, 11 hits, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 6 runs, 1 walk, 2 SB)
Stat Of The Week: Josh Hader's scoreless streak finally ends.
Next Week: @ NYM, @ CIN
Chaos is a good way to describe Sunday at the 2022 American Family Insurance Championship. Eight players entered the calm, overcast day within two strokes of Thongchai Jaidee and Miguel Angel Jimenez’s lead of -10, with two-time defending champion Jerry Kelly entering just three back.
The final round was crowded at the top throughout, with as many as nine players holding a share of the lead at a time. After a Jaidee bogey on the par 3 5th hole sent him back to -10 for the tournament, he along with Kelly, Kirk Triplett, Jimenez and Paul Broadhurst were all tied at the top. Several more joined that lead at -10 which stood for nearly an hour before Jimenez and Jaidee both birdied the par 5 9th hole to get to -11.
The back nine at University Ridge Golf Course presents golden scoring opportunities throughout, though the closing two-hole stretch has enough bite to ruin a player’s round.
The first part of that happened Sunday. Tournament host Steve Stricker birdied the par 4 14th to get to -5 on the day and -9 overall. He was one shot back at that point but did not pick up another birdie for the rest of his round and finished tied for 11th.
“I told (wide and caddy) Nicki I had to get to 13 yet and I was at 9 and we had four holes left,” Stricker said. “I was thinking an eagle in there at 16 and then trying to birdie some coming in. Yeah, a little late to join the party, but it was some better things today. I putted awful, though. I didn't birdie any of the par 5s today. Could have been a real special round, but just didn't get it in the hole very well.”
The next player through was Tom Pernice Jr., who began the day just three shots back at -7. After making the turn at -9 he picked up birdies at 11, 14, 15 and 16 to post 66 and enter the clubhouse with the lead at -13.
Then came Kelly. The Madison native made the turn at -10, picked up birdies at 13 and 15 to get to -12, but missed makeable looks at 16 and 18 to fall just short of matching Pernice in the clubhouse.
“That was a lot of good putts out there on the back side,” Kelly said. “I struck it well, I putted well, they just didn't go in this time, but I gave myself some good looks. I mean, I was really happy with the way things were going and I was kind of expecting them to drop, 'okay, anytime now.' Then I just ran out of holes and didn't make them.”
As this was taking place Jaidee was getting hot. The Thailand native birdied 9, 10, 11 and 15 to stretch his lead to -14 walking to the 16th tee. That's when chaos mentioned earlier ensued. After finding the trees with his drive on 16, Jaidee was forced to drop and leave the scoreable par 5 hole with a bogey. His lead was back to -13, tied with Pernice.
His playing partner Jimenez showed a similar flash early on his back nine, birdieing 9, 10 and 11 to match Jaidee at -12 at the time. But then the wheels came off on the greens for the Spaniard. Jimenez three-putt bogeyed the 14th, three-putt parred the par 5 16th and posted 70, finishing the tournament at -12.
While this all was going on Kirk Triplett had a makeable putt on 18 to match the clubhouse lead. That roll slid by on the right side, leaving him at -12.
At this point a playoff seemed likely with Pernice in at -13, Jaidee sitting at -13 on the 17th tee and Jimenez and Broadhurst with a few chances to join the two at the top.
But all of the back-and-forth was finally put to rest on the 17th green. Jaidee stuck his approach from 180 yards out to 20 feet and left a downhill putt sweeping right to left. After Jimenez and Broadhurst both missed their bids to tie his lead, Jaidee calmly slid the putt in on the left edge. It was a birdie on the hole, -4 for the day and -14 overall for the tournament.
A difficult 18th hole can always sway a tournament’s result. Just look at the recent PGA Championship at Southern Hills, where leader Mito Pereira double-bogeyed the final hole to relinquish the lead and allow Justin Thomas to win the tournament in a playoff.
But Jaidee’s final hole was anything but nervy. He striped it into the fairway, narrowly missed the green with his approach and got up and down for a tournament-winning par.
"Excited," Jaidee said when asked to describe his emotions. "I played a solid, solid week. I took one mistake on 16, hit the tree and lost the ball, we make a good bogey...holed a good putt on 17 and the game changed. I think my confidence in putting, that's why helped me a lot for this week."
With the win, Jaidee became the first player from Thailand to win on the Champions Tour and finally took the trophy from Kelly, who had held it since 2019. The win also moves Jaidee up to No. 12 on the Charles Schwab Cup Money List, still a ways behind leaders Steve Alker, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Bernhard Langer.
FITCHBURG, Wis. -- Saturday is labeled “moving day” at professional golf tournaments for a reason. It’s the time when the contenders make their move and separate themselves from the pretenders.
Round 2 at the 2022 American Family Insurance Championship lived up to that name and then some. A lead that sat at -7 after Friday moved up to only -10, though there were numerous golfers that made big jumps into contention.
The headliner entering the day was Steve Flesch. The overnight leader played lights out tee-to-green on the front side Saturday, birdieing the 4th, 6th and 7th holes to shoot an opening nine 33. The gear was set back to neutral for the back side, though, as Flesch mixed in one birdie with two bogeys to shoot a second-round 70. He sits at -9 entering Sunday, just one back of the lead.
The big movers of the day started at 3-under and 6-under respectively. The first was Thongchai Jaidee, who fired a bogey-free 65 to move to -10 for the tournament.
Jaidee’s name was still a few slots back as he ventured through the back nine. That was until he stood on the 14th tee, where birdies on the next three holes vaulted him into a tie for first.
“My confidence with my putting was very good today,” Jaidee said. "I holed some good putts, but the more important thing here is keeping ball in play. That was my plan today. I hit a lot of greens, hit a lot of fairways. The most important thing, I feel is putting. That's the key for this week. Finally 7 under today, bogey free today, very happy. I'll try to keep my same game plan tomorrow.”
The 13-time Asian Tour winner hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation during his second round and 10 of 13 fairways, in addition to scrambling successfully all 4 times and finishing 1 for 1 in sand saves. The most telling number: Jaidee needed only 11 putts to close out a back nine 32. His 65 was the best in the field Saturday and puts him in a good position to close out a victory Sunday.
The man he is tied with also happens to be the least surprising name to appear at the top of this leaderboard. It’s Miguel Angel Jimenez, who finished tied for second last year when Jerry Kelly’s late run captured the trophy.
Jimenez’s round is interesting to unpack. The Spaniard started the day at -6, birdied his first hole to get to -7, hit his drive on 2 out of bounds & made bogey, bounced back to play holes 3 to 11 at three-under, stumbled again on 15 to drop back a stroke and then finished birdie-birdie-par on 16, 17 and 18 respectively.
His round was highlighted by hitting 10 of 13 fairways and 15 of the 18 greens in regulation. Jimenez was also successfully able to scramble each of the two chances after the aforementioned bogey on 2. Take away that errant drive on the second hole and he would easily be the tournament’s leader by a few shots.
Another big mover was Paul Broadhurst. He was playing just a few minutes behind Jaidee’s 65, though was also scoring at a similar pace. Broadhurst started hot, birdieing three of his first four holes to get to -7. A bogey on the par 3 8th set him back for a second, but the United Kingdom native got hot down the stretch with birdies on 11, 13 and 15 and an eagle on 16.
A closing bogey on 18 dropped him back a stroke, but he sits tied for second at -9.
In all, 16 names are within three shots of the lead entering Sunday. Among that group is Kirk Triplett at -8 (a double bogey on 17 dropped him out of the lead), Paul Goydos, Colin Montgomerie, Jerry Kelly, Tim Herron, Doug Barron and John Daly.
Hometown favorites Kelly and Steve Stricker both fired three-under 69s today. Kelly's will keep him in the hunt entering the final round, while Stricker's unfortunately likely won't be enough after an opening-round 71. Despite the deficit, though, Stricker is still setting goals for the final round.
"I mean, I went out there with 8 under in my head and just never really got any momentum," Stricker said. "So tomorrow, hopefully, hopefully I can do that and put up a low one. Too far back to win the thing, but to try to get up there and get a top-10 or something."
The final tournament highlight of the day came from the most interesting man on the Champions Tour: John Daly. Daly, in fluorescent flower-covered pants, notched a bogey-free 66 to stay in the hunt entering the final day.
“I made a few putts here and there, hit a lot of fairways, but the guys are going low,” Daly said. “It's hard to win out here. Triplett's hot, Flesch is hot.”
Daly vaulted his way to -7, tied for 9th and again only three shots back of Jimenez and Jaidee.
Now moving past the tournament itself, the 2022 edition of the AmFam Championship saw the celebrity foursome return. Two-time U.S. Open champion Andy North and Packers legend Brett Favre squared off against MLB Hall Of Famer Derek Jeter and LPGA legend Juli Inkster.
The entertaining match between the two teams was decided midway through the back nine when Jeter and Inkster got hot and left Favre and North shots behind. The final score was Team Jeter/Inkster -5, Team Favre/North -2.
The Jeter-Inkster team earned a significant charitable donation in their names to American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison.
Action returns Sunday morning where a packed leaderboard will battle to finally take the trophy away from two-time defending champion Jerry Kelly. That is unless Kelly recaptures last year’s magic and finds an improbable three-peat.
A rainy morning turned into a picture-perfect day for golf Friday at the American Family Insurance Championship. The light drizzle conceded around 11 a.m. and blue sky subsequently found its way through the clouds. When the sun began to shine down, the temperature rose…and so did the golf.
Tournament host and heavy favorite Steve Stricker almost perfectly embodied the mood of the day for his first 16 holes. He bogied the par 4 1st while the rain was still trickling down then proceeded to record five birdies in his next 15 holes as the sun was shining.
That sent him to the 17th tee at -3, where a poor tee shot led to a crushing double bogey, undoing much of the forward progress he’d made.
“Yeah, that was a disappointing way to finish really because I had it in the middle of the fairway at 16 with a 7- or 8-iron in my hand,” Stricker said. “ I've been trying to hit some hard shots and I tried to hit a hard one there and just didn't go. And then make the double at 17.”
The tournament host hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation today despite only hitting 9 of 13 fairways. His only missed green on the back nine was at the 17th, where a big number can always hurt a good day’s work. Stricker now sits at -1, tied for 28th entering the weekend.
Two-time defending champion Jerry Kelly’s first-round took a nearly opposite path to that of his fellow Wisconsin native. He made the turn at -1 after solid golf on the front nine (6/6 fairways, 9/9 greens in regulation) was not rewarded with many birdies. He then stood on the 16th tee at that same number, before proceeding to play the par 5 16th, par 3 17th and par 4 18th at a combined three-under to card a four-under 68.
“I started out today just pretty weak, just not being able to do what I did last week,” Kelly said. “I mean, I had some new swing thoughts last week and it was great, and I had some new putting thoughts last week and it was great, and trying to duplicate sometimes is difficult. I kind of realized a few things going into that back side after I hit some really bad shots through like 13 or so and really got on top of it.”
Kelly sits tied for 4th place entering a weekend where he’ll look to win this tournament for a third straight time.
The trios of Stricker, Jim Furyk and Davis Love and Jerry Kelly, Fred Couples and Retief Goosen captured much of the fan attention today, understandably so. But the best golf of the day came from 55-year-old Steve Flesch. His opening-round seven-under 65 puts him one shot clear of Colin Montgomerie and Miguel Angel Jimenez for first place entering the weekend.
“You know, hit a lot of good shots, got away with a few scratchy ones,” Flesch said. “Putted great and got the ball up and down all but one time, so I had a great day out there. But the putting was better than normal and I was rewarded with a lot of good looks for birdie and capitalized on them.”
Flesch was a scrambling machine throughout the day, converting 6/7 of his scramble chances and getting around the course with only 24 putts. A three-putt bogey on 12 turned out to be the only blemish on a field-leading card.
The rest of the top 10 includes Montgomerie and Angel Jimenez at -6, Esteban Toledo, Paul Goydos, Tom Pernice Jr, Tim Herron, Kirk Triplett and Kelly all tied for fourth at -4 and eight more players tied for 10th at -3.
Another highlight from an entertaining Friday was John Daly breaking par with a first round 71. Or maybe the highlight was just the flamingo pants.
The golfers will head back to the tee at University Ridge Golf Course tomorrow morning.
An action-packed week for the Milwaukee Brewers started with a strong showing in Chicago. The team swept the Memorial Day double-header and looked poised to dominate the Cubs, return home for the first time in 12 games and continue their NL Central-leading momentum.
Well, that didn't happen. The Crew went 1-5 to close the week and limped to Monday's off day (the team's first in 18 days).
The shame is, there were good stories coming out of the week. A career minor leaguer excelled in his first major league start, two of the wins saw big-time late-game heroics and more. But the results were not there for the most part, and dropping Friday, Saturday and Sunday's games at home to the Padres leaves a bitter taste.
With this long stretch of games finally behind us, here is this week's Brewers Week in Review:
Current Standing: 33-23, first place in NL Central
The Good: A few fill-ins had impressive weeks.
The Brewers are not close to a healthy baseball team right now. They're playing without two of the lineup's scarier hitters (Hunter Renfroe, Willy Adames), two of the rotation's better arms (Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta) and a host of other players.
This column is highlighting two fill-ins who received extended playing time for different reasons: OF Tyrone Taylor, SP Jason Alexander.
Taylor started all eight games this week in the outfield mostly due to the struggles of Lorenzo Cain, though also due in part to Renfroe's absence. His week-long tallies don't look great (5 hits in 31 at bats, 2 HR, 2 2B, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 7 Ks). But he was arguably the biggest reason the Brewers swept the Memorial Day double-header down in Chicago.
The outfielder went deep in Game 1 of the twin bill to tie the game at four before Luis Urias' 3-run home run gave the team a lead they would not relinquish. He then went deep again in Game 2 in addition to making a circus catch to get Aaron Ashby out of a jam.
There wasn't much good after those two wins on Monday (aside from some heroics I'll note below). That's why Taylor's Monday in Chicago is what we'll highlight.
The other "good" from the week was the MLB debut of Jason Alexander, a 29-year-old who battled for years to finally reach The Show.
His debut on Wednesday had a rocky start --- a 28-pitch first inning where the Cubs put two runs on the board. But he settled in after that, finishing his day with a line of 7 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 3 walks, 3 strikeouts. While the Brewers ended up losing the game in extras (after failing to score the ghost runner in the top of the 10th), Alexander's debut for an injury-riddled rotation was a tremendous development.
The final "good" which I pointed to previously: the Brewers' walk-off win against the Padres on Thursday. The team trailed 4-1 entering the 9th inning against a closer in Taylor Rodgers that has been one of baseball's best this season. What came next: Keston Hiura single, Kolten Wong hit by pitch, Victor Caratini hit by pitch, Jace Pederson 3-run triple, Andrew McCutchen walk-off single.
The single for McCutchen snapped an 0 for 32 cold spell and ended up salvaging what would have been a disastrous week for the ball club.
The Bad: Almost everything.
Monday's twin bill sweep was a perfect start to the week. Thursday's improbable win was a bonus after a poor showing during the first 8 innings. But aside from those days, the Brewers went 0-5 and were outscored a combined 29-14.
Corbin Burnes had his worst start of the season (3 2/3 innings, 8 hits, 5 earned runs), Christian Yelich went 2 for 22, Keston Hiura continued to struggle in the big leagues, Trevor Kelley blew a 3-run lead on Tuesday, the defense was poor and the offense only scored 4 runs over the weekend.
I will credit part of the struggles to the team playing its 18th game in 17 days and playing without many of its most consistent contributors. But finishing the week 3-5 after starting 2-0 is a rough development. We'll see what better health and Monday's off-day does to help the team's momentum.
-Jace Pederson (.304, 7 hits, 5 XBH, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 SB)
Next Week: vs. PHI, @ WSH
A special Memorial Day edition of Brewers Week In Review has more news and notes than I can remember this column having. We look back at a week that started with an action-packed series win in San Diego (the word "action" meaning several different things in this context) and crept to finish with a four-game split in St. Louis.
What's impressive, though, is the context associated with those results. The team is now playing without its two best offensive threats (Willy Adames, Hunter Renfroe), played without star closer Josh Hader for a series, lost Freddy Peralta for a lengthy period and now will be without Brandon Woodruff. The team's depth is being tested big-time, and not just the position depth. We're seeing different relievers get high-leverage opportunities, different starters take the mound and, obviously, some new combinations across the field.
In all, the 4-3 record should feel better than it looks, especially winning the first series in San Diego.
One piece of news before last week is fully recapped: the Brewers have called up prospect Ethan Small to pitch Monday's game in Chicago. He is the team's No. 7-ranked prospect in its system & top-ranked pitching prospect.
And now, your Brewers Week In Review:
Current Standing: 30-18 (1st in NL Central)
The Good: An expected Corbin Burnes bounce back.
Last week Corbin Burnes headlined "the bad" column after his worst start of the season (4 earned runs, 7 hits, 2 home runs in 6 innings). If any out there had doubt he would bounce back in a big way, that doubt should be put to eternal rest. The Brewers star started two games last week (Tuesday @ SD, Sunday @ STL) and absolutely dazzled in both opportunities.
Tuesday @ SD: 6 innings, 5 hits, 1 earned run, 5 strikeouts, 1 win
Sunday: @ STL: 7 innings, 2 hits, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts, 1 win
Total: 2-0, 0.69 ERA, 13 innings, 7 hits, 1 run, 3 walks, 16 strikeouts.
His season line now sits at a near-perfect 10 starts, 3-2 record, 64.2 innings, 1.95 ERA, 0.82. WHIP, 78 Ks, 11 BBs. Cy Young-caliber production from the top of the rotation.
An honorable mention for this category: RP Devin Williams.
While Hader was away from the team during the three-game set in San Diego, Williams was tasked with the closer role. He went on to appear in every game (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) and finish the week with 2 saves, 3 innings, 2 hits allowed, 0 runs and 4 strikeouts. The bullpen needed a jolt without Hader's lockdown stuff available. Williams gave them that and more.
The Bad: Injuries.
This column could get a big long, as the Brewers have suddenly been hit hard by injuries all over the field.
First, Freddy Peralta left his start last Sunday with right shoulder tightness. We learned Monday he would be placed on the injured list and miss "significant" time. Manager Craig Counsell told reporters they expect him to return this season, but it's still a near worst-case scenario for the All-Star pitcher.
Next, with the team already without Willy Adames due to a sprained ankle, outfielder Hunter Renfroe sprained his hamstring during Tuesday's win in San Diego. If you're a regular consumer of this weekly article, you'd know he was the team's "good" last week after slashing .526/.542/1.174 with 2 doubles and 4 RBI. For a lineup that has struggled to stay healthy all season, and hit consistently for that matter, he had become one of the more reliable producers. The outfielder has now been out since Tuesday though is expected to return late this week.
Finally, starter Brandon Woodruff was removed from Friday's start in St. Louis with right ankle discomfort. The two-time All-Star said he began feeling pain in the first couple innings and it got progressively worse. He attempted to go back out for the 5th inning but was pulled after his warmup pitches. There was initial hope that Woodruff wouldn't miss his next start, but that changed Monday when the team placed him on the 15-day IL with a high ankle sprain.
While it sounds crazy, the Brewers sit 12 games over .500 on Memorial Day while having never been fully healthy at a single point during the season. Whether it's bats in the middle of the lineup, Josh Hader stepping away for a few days or long-term injuries to a starter, this is a team that's scraping by in an extremely impressive way. One way to look at this: better health is to come as the summer progresses, which should probably lead to better play on the field.
-Corbin Burnes (2-0, 13 innings, 0.69 ERA, 16 strikeouts, 7 hits, 1 earned run)
Next Week: @ CHC, vs. SD
Another pair of three-game series, another highly successful week for the Milwaukee Brewers. The team has played 13 series so far this season plus a one-game stop against the Giants. They've now won 9 of those 13 sets with this week's series wins over the Braves and Nationals. A common question raised is always whether the team needs more offensive help to reach a World Series. While this isn't an argument in either direction, the now-healthy offense continues to help the team take 2 of 3 from whoever visits town.
For more on this week's mostly winning, here is your Brewers week in review:
Current Standing: 26-15 (1st in NL Central)
The Good: Hunter Renfroe is on fire.
A previous recipient of this honor is Rowdy Tellez, a great example of David Stearns finding fantastic value in the trade or free agent market. The team's main offense now consists mostly of players who fit that description -- Willy Adames, Andrew McCutchen, Tellez, Hunter Renfroe and Christian Yelich (kind of). Well, it's Renfroe's time to earn the spotlight this week.
His stat line in six contests: 19 at-bats, 10 hits, 2 doubles, 4 RBI, 3 walks, .526 average, .542 on base percentage, 1.174 OPS. While there were no long balls to compliment the hot hitting, his year-long digits are now 38 hits, 9 home runs, 19 RBI, 2 doubles, 9 walks, .268/.305/.812. He leads the team in hits, home runs and batting average.
The Brewers acquired him this offseason in the 11th hour before baseball entered a work stoppage. They forfeited the services of the poor-hitting OF Jackie Bradley Jr. and two top-30 prospects. Looking back, as is the case with a lot of these moves, it seems to be a massive win. Renfroe has given the lineup one of its most powerful and consistent bats, otherwise known as another productive bat to take the shine away from Yelich's up-and-down play.
The Bad: Corbin Burnes
Not many times will Corbin Burnes finish a week as the team's least efficient starter. His line of 6 innings, 7 hits, 4 earned runs, 2 home runs allowed was bailed out by Keston Hiura's walk-off home run in extra innings, though it is still worth noting the hits, runs and home run tallies were all the worst of his season.
The good luck no decision was deserved, if possible, as Burnes has an ERA of 2.26 through 8 starts yet has only one win on his record. Nevertheless, expect the razor-sharp Burnes to return next week when he faces off against the Padres.
-Hunter Renfroe (.526/.542/1.174, 2 doubles, 4 RBI)
Stat Of The Week: Is this any good?
-Happened to the wrong side, but a triple play is a triple play
-(before a poor start on Sunday that saw Peralta leave the game early with a shoulder injury)
-struggles against lefties
-time to shut off the Twitter account for a few weeks?
-Renfroe is hot
Next Week: @ SD, @ STL