Take it from someone who has had two cataract surgeries and a subsequent detached retina emergency procedure in the last 18 months, I know a thing or two about the difference between good eyesight and bad eyesight. So here’s my new quandary, every time I witness the Milwaukee Brewers trot out onto the field, I have to ask myself, are these really the Milwaukee Brewers, or do I need to visit my optometrist again?
For someone who relishes in the abundant opportunities to poke fun at a franchise that has delivered one trip to the World Series in the last 45 years, this season does not look like anything I have seen before. Oh sure, these blue and yellow clad double-knits have pulled the fast start out of the gate before, but, as usual, the slow fade usually follows, or, as was the case last year, the free fall happened with a 6-22 record in the month of May.
After another 10-2 flying start this year, the Screwers suffered a home series loss to the Cardinals, and it looked to be more of the same in 2014. But wait, don’t toss your beer just yet, this time there’s another four game winning streak in progress, with three of those wins coming in the inexplicable category this past weekend during a road series against the Pirates.
First it was a four error game road win over the Pirates on Friday, 5-3, featuring a never before seen “knock-the-cover-off-the-ball” trick by back up catcher Martin Maldonado, who incidentally, banged out 3 hits that night. That game came on the heels of the worst performance of the season by Milwaukee in an 11-2 series opening drubbing at PNC Park, so file it under “nice bounce back”.
Then Mr. HGH himself, Ryan Braun, delivered the ninth inning heroics in a come from behind 8-7 win on Saturday, that once again proved the resilience of this team and its newly discovered resource called, The Bullpen. Oh yeah, and Braun blasted the 1st pitch he saw into deep left center off none other than Jason Grilli, who, until that moment, had been unhittable versus Milwaukee. It was also his second home run of the night, he apparently has a source for something in Pennsylvania.
On Sunday the Brewers made it 3 out of 4 in Pittsburgh with a 14 inning gem, this one featuring another stellar performance from the pitching staff and a game winning home run by Khris Davis, plus a Braunschweiger blast to tie in the ninth off of Grilli. Touche. It was also highlighted by a Carlos Gomez infused bench clearing brawl, but as we all know, baseball fights pale in comparison to those of let’s say, hockey. It did, however, add one more chapter to Gomez’ idiotic resume. That victory meant a flight home to a 6 game home stand with the Padres and the Cubs on tap. Could this turn into a 20-5 start? Seriously? Maybe then I will definitely need my eyes checked.
Here’s what I do see clearly though, at least on line and in print to support a growing theory that these guys just might indeed be for real this time around, starting with the offense:
Ramirez, .347, 16 clutch RBI, Braun, .303 and hitting big home runs in bunches, as he did when he was juicing,
LuCroy, .317 and leading the league in doubles, Gomez, .313 with 5 HR’s, 12 RBI’s, leading the league in triples plus one ejection and a three game suspension in the lead-off spot, Maldonado, .333 and a 5 game suspension with the sucker punch of the year, Mark Reynolds, your wayward first baseman, with 5 home runs already, and Scooter Gennett, .321, batting second. What is it I don’t see? How about all-star Jean Segura hitting like he did last year, which means, if he gets hot, look out. And I don’t see much of Rickie Weeks, which is a good thing.
As for the pitching, it’s down right ridiculous. Start with a team ERA 2.66, add 8 saves (4 in 4 days) and a 0.00 ERA for K-Rod, Starters with a combined record of 9-4 and the relievers 6-1, with Tyler Thornburg on the line for a spot on the All-Star team and newly acquired Will Smith proving once again Doug Melvin just might know what he is doing after all.
It all adds up to the best record in the major leagues at 15-5 for the Blew-Ha’s, and a lot of fans rubbing their eyeballs, like me, trying to figure out if this real or imagined, Milwaukee, Wisconsin or Bizarro World. And, in the mother of all trump cards, this hot start for the Brew Crew has even taken a portion of the spotlight off Hank The Dog, the marketing ploy that was there, and still is, to divert the attention off this team, if it should decide, as it has in the past, to go south again.
Based on what I’ve “seen” so far, I’m starting to believe. After all, I do have 20-20 vision.
And For What