What a difference a couple of weeks make. The Brewers started out 2-8 and the bandwagon fans were all ready to write this team off. They are terrible. Bullpen sucks. They can’t hit.
Fact: Brewers are officially the first team in Major League Baseball history to start out 2-8 and then proceed to go over .500 by winning the next 7 games.
So now they can’t lose!! They are the hottest team in baseball winning 8 straight playing a slumping San Diego team Tuesday/Wednesday and a Dodgers team this weekend that has not been the same since the brawl with the Padres. Here are now eight reasons why this current winning streak means something.
1. Ryan Braun
There is all this talk that Braun is slumping. He is not really hitting for contact, his strikeouts are up, and his batting average is down. Still he has 6 home runs already this season. 5 for his last 32 but all 5 hits have been clutch. If this is an idea of a slump, I will take it.
2. Rickie Weeks and Alex Gonzalez
They are both slumping. Weeks is currently batting cleanup and being moved around the lineup due to injuries to Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart. He is hitting .171 and officially is some of the fans new whipping boy now that Axford has settled down. I don’t get it.
Why isn’t Alex Gonzalez getting more criticism? He is hitting even worse at .137 with a awful on base percentage of .196 (YIKES). Why am I putting this in here? The Brewers are winning despite these two and a few others like Aoki and Lucroy struggling as well. During this stretch the defense has been solid. The team does not make many mistakes and make their opponents pay for mistakes they commit. It’s why you can’t tell how a team does just by stats alone. You have to watch how they play.
3. Carlos Gomez
Have yourself a week Carlos Gomez! As the NL Player of the week, Gomez went 9 for 18 with a .526 on-base percentage and recorded his 500th hit.
Here is the best quote according to the Brewers website Gomez NL Player of the week
“The week past, we won seven games in a row,” the 27-year-old Gomez said. “That’s more important. For Player of the Week, you can have three or four really good games, but when you do something to help win games for your team, I think that’s more important.”
I remember when we traded for him from the Twins, the knock on Gomez was that he had all the criteria of a 5 tool player but his mind was holding him back. He was very challenging to coach. Gomez recently in March was given a raise and extension. From going to the Mets to Twins, and now the Brewers, the Brewers have been the first team that has shown they believe in him. Maybe that is what he needed to realize in order to become a better player. His approach to the game is totally different. He finally has figured out that he does not have to over do it. He is one of the fastest players in baseball on the base paths and does not always have to swing for the fence. His defense as been great as always and he knows the fans love his play hard attitude.
Additionally a game in Chicago back earlier in the month he got real upset at a strike out. The next day I see this article where his 3 year old child taught him a valuable lesson about how parents should set examples of their kids. This was a great story and showed me that Carlos has matured. The link to the story is below from the Brew Beat blog:
Gomez is also a team favorite. He is the one always giving pies to the player of the game on the Brewers Live Post game shows. Below is a game last week when Braun tried to get him back and he was a little too quick for him. Here is hoping his great play and attitude continue.
4. Kyle Lohse
It looks like even though he dislocated his finger last night, he should not miss a start. I hope so because Lohse has been valuable during this stretch. He has set the tone by his great pitching and the other starters have followed. He is 1-1 with a 2.52 ERA and has only walked 2 people in 25 innings. His one loss was due to the hitting slump the entire team had. I hope Brewer fans can stop being worried that he is the next Suppan or Wolf. This was a signing we had to have in order to stabilize what was going to be a young rotation. We had to do this in order to compete.
5. Managing: Ron Roenicke
One major thing Roenicke has done during this stretch has been taking Axford out of the closer role. Since then he has not given up any runs and while the pen is still a work in progress, the bullpen the last 9 games has gone 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA. Jim Henderson has emerged as the current closer going 2-0 with a 1.oo ERA and 4 saves this season. Kudos to Roenicke for realizing early Axford closing was not working and making a change when other managers would be stubborn to do otherwise. In my opinion Henderson is the closer until further notice. Do not change what isn’t broken.
6. Gutsy Starting Pitching: Yovanni Gallardo/Hiram Burgos
Gallardo had a bad week being pulled over for driving under the influence. He has apologized and was on a mission last Thursday to prove that this won’t be a setback. He pitched very well during the first sweep of this streak even hitting a home run to boot off Matt Cain. I was at the game and when he hit his HR, I and other Brewers fans gave him a standing ovation. Not because of his hit, but to show that we understand his mistake and still will support him through thick and thin.
Additionally the Brewers made a gutsy move of calling up highly touted Hiram Burgos to pitch last Saturday. He responded by giving up 1 run and 5 hits and getting his first major league win. He is the beginning of some great starting pitching coming up through the ranks, one of which we already have in the rotation in Wily Peralta. Don’t know if Burgos’ stay will be permanent, however it shows that we have some reliable guys in AAA should an injury occur.
7. Yunieski Betacourt
Don’t let the .245 batting average fool you. He is hitting clutch this year. He was instrumental in the grand slam back on April 16th and Monday night put the game out of reach in the 1st inning with a 3 run home run. He also is willing to play any infield position while Ramirez and Hart get healthy. It was a under the radar signing that happened at the same time Lohse was signed and our bench will be so much stronger once we get healthy. I was even one who once the Phillies released him, wondered why are we bringing this guy back? He is making me eat quite a bit of crow now!
8. Jean Segura
I like to personally thank the LA Angels for giving us three prospects for Zach Grienke. Jean Segura is maturing right before our eyes and is near the top of the league in hitting (.359), and has solid defense. We can officially say that the Brewers won this trade. I never thought he would be as good as advertised and he is better. Him moving up in to 2nd in the lineup will make us better when we get healthy. I would even argue keeping him up in the lineup there permanently. A trio of Aoki, Segura, and Braun look awfully tough to the opposing pitchers right now.
He also now is known across the league for this crazy play where he gets credited for stealing 1st base last week! Click on the picture to see the entire play.
Way to go Brewers!! Let’s keep streaking!