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Wednesday: Braun keeps them booing
We're looking at Ryan Braun's big day and more in today's roundup of all things Brewers.

Some things to read while getting dressed.

The Brewers remain undefeated on the road in 2014 after a big offensive day powered them to a 10-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday. Noah Jarosh of Brew Crew Ball has the recap in gif form, if you missed any of the highlights.

The big story from yesterday's game was a breakout performance for Ryan Braun, who broke a homerless streak stretching all the way back to May of 2013 by hitting three of them. Braun even surprised himself with the performance, and told reporters about a couple of changes that may have helped: He's moved some padding on his sore thumb from the outside of his batting glove to the inside and shortened the leg kick in his swing.

Braun may also have been motivated by a notoriously tough crowd in Philadelphia, which booed him pretty steadily throughout the day. He shared his thoughts on it in our Tweet of the Day:
As you might imagine, hitting three home runs and tying a franchise record by driving in seven runs in the same game moves you up on the all-time lists in a hurry. Here are the milestones Braun passed yesterday:
  • Braun's first and second homers were his 212th and 213th, tying him and moving him past Geoff Jenkins for third on the Brewers all-time list.
  • Braun's second home run tied him with Ben Oglivie for fifth among Brewers with 685 career RBIs. He later passed Oglivie and is now looking up at Geoff Jenkins, who is fourth with 704 (h/t @MikeVassallo13).
  • Braun is now tied with Gorman Thomas for second with 19 career multihomer games. Prince Fielder is first with 22 (h/t @HighHeatStats).
Yesterday's big game may take some attention off of Braun's thumb, but odds are it's still an issue we're going to hear more about going forward. The next time it comes up, here's something to think about: Enrique Bakemeyer of The Brewers Bar looked into the online reviews of Dr. Donald C. Sheridan, Braun's (and Rickie Weeks') hand specialist, and found him to be rated below average across the board.

The offensive outburst saved a win for Kyle Lohse, who struggled with his control in windy conditions in Philadelphia. He lasted five innings and allowed three runs on seven hits, walking five batters in a game for just the second time since 2008. Earlier, David Laurilia of FanGraphs had interviewed Lohse about his role as a veteran leader on this pitching staff. Even after Lohse's rough outing yesterday, Brewers starters have a 2.08 ERA after seven games, and Andrew Vrchota of Reviewing the Brew asks if this staff could be better than the group that took the team to the playoffs in 2011.
 
Braun's big day also overshadowed a positive development for Jim Henderson, who pitched a perfect ninth inning, recorded a pair of strikeouts and hit 97 on the radar gun in a low-leverage outing (h/t @AdamMcCalvy). Francisco Rodriguez appears to have a firm grip on the closer's role for now, but Henderson may be ready to get back into more important outings.

In the end it didn't matter, but yesterday's game also featured Ron Roenicke and the Brewers again declining to take advantage of MLB's new replay system. Jean Segura appeared to be safe but was ruled out attempting to steal second for the final out of the sixth inning, but Ron Roenicke elected not to call for a review. @JerryCrasnick notes that Roenicke had nothing to lose by challenging the call, but opted not to anyway. Of course, questioning Roenicke's strategic abilities is right in @Rubie_Q's wheelhouse.

Other notes from the field:
  • Braun is the third Brewer ever to hit his first three home runs of the season in the same game. Jose Valentin did it in 1998 and Corey Hart joined him in 2011.
  • Braun also joins Hart as the only Brewers with three home runs and seven RBIs in the same game.
  • Braun now has 10 career home runs in 20 games at Citizens Bank Park, which is tied for the fifth-most ever by a visiting player.
  • Braun's first home run snapped a streak of 98 consecutive plate appearances without one, the longest run of his career (h/t @Haudricourt). ESPN Stats & Info has more on the drought.
  • Before his big day at the plate, Braun also saved some runs in the field with a nice diving catch in right.
  • He rounded the bases in 24.36, 21.0 and 23.07 seconds after his three blasts (h/t @TaterTrotTrkr).
  • Mark Reynolds picked up a double yesterday on a deep fly ball to center that Phillies outfielder Ben Revere couldn't hang onto. Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer says Revere's glove is costing the Phillies runs.
  • Jean Segura was hit by a pitch yesterday, becoming the first Brewer to collect an HBP this season. Plunk Everyone has more on the event.
  • The Brewers were a part of home openers in Milwaukee, Boston and Philadelphia this season, and won all three games (h/t @howiemag).
  • Chase Utley missed yesterday's home opener for the Phillies and was told to stay home with the flu.
  • The Brewers' current four-game road winning streak matches their longest streak from last year. They haven't won five consecutive road games since August of 2011 (h/t @MikeVassallo13 on both notes).
They'll get a chance to keep that streak alive when they take on the Phillies again tonight. Matt Garza will face Roberto Hernandez at 6:05 p.m., and Adam McCalvy has the MLB.com preview.

The Brewers are quickly becoming one of baseball's biggest surprises in the early going, as they enter play today tied for first place in the NL Central. Jonathan Lucroy told Paul Hagen of MLB.com that they're not surprised by their hot start, though.

Lucroy also had a big day offensively yesterday, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and a walk and scoring two runs. Peter Gammons is calling Lucroy the Brewers' "ballast," and Alex Skillin of Beyond the Box Score says he's baseball's most underrated catcher.

Yovani Gallardo has also been a big part of the Brewers' success to this point, working 12 2/3 scoreless innings in his first two starts. Jaymes Langrehr of Disciples of Uecker has a look at how Gallardo has been finding results, and Alec Dopp of Gammons Daily also considers what might have changed for the Brewers' Opening Day starter.

Carlos Gomez had a pair of doubles yesterday, his first two of the season, raising his batting line to .323/.382/.581 (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging). Tim Young of Brewer Rat has a look at the Brewers' seemingly increased tendency to put him in motion on the bases with Jean Segura at the plate.

It remains to be seen if the Brewers can sustain this momentum, but their hot start is beginning to show up in the projections. Jordan Mader of Brew Crew Ball took a look at two sites' playoff odds for 2014 to show how the Brewers' postseason hopes have grown over the last week. A few more big days like yesterday may have the pundits starting to buy in, too. During yesterday's game, @BNightengale of The USA Today said "there's no reason why the Brewers can't make playoffs" if Braun remains healthy.

Meanwhile, one of the few Brewers that has not made a positive contribution to this team is Rickie Weeks. He popped out as a pinch hitter and was lifted for a defensive replacement yesterday, and is now 1-for-11 on the season. Noah Jarosh of Brew Crew Ball has a look at what it would take for the Brewers to exercise his $11.5 million option for 2015.
 
In the minors:
  • The affiliates went 2-1 last night, and Brevard County pitcher Hobbs Johnson had a big game, pitching six shutout innings in his first professional start in the Manatees' 6-0 win over Lakeland. Miller Park Prospects has short recaps from all of the day's action.
  • Mike Fiers also had a nice night for Nashville, allowing a single run on three hits and recording nine strikeouts in six innings (h/t @alecdopp).
  • The Brewerfan.net Link Report has game times and probables for all of today's action, including Nashville's 11:45 a.m. matinee at Iowa. 
  • Nashville broadcaster Jeff Hem has an interview with Sounds first baseman Hunter Morris.
Back in Milwaukee, as part of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the theatrical release of Major League, actor Corbin Bernsen (Roger Dorn) stopped by Miller Park this week. Follow that link for pictures from the visit.

Hank the dog is also still in Milwaukee this week, and Thema Ponton of WISN has a look at the impact he's had on area animal shelters.

Around baseball:

Angels: Reliever Brian Moran needs Tommy John surgery and will miss the 2014 season. 
Dodgers: Placed catcher A.J. Ellis on the DL after surgery to repair a torn meniscus. 
Rays: Placed pitcher Matt Moore on the DL with an elbow injury. 
Reds: Placed reliever Trevor Bell on the DL with elbow inflammation. 

Let's go around the NL Central:
  • The Pirates maintained their share of first place in the division by scoring a run in the eighth to clinch a 7-6 win over the Cubs. Russell Martin had two hits in the game, but his sac fly was the difference. Chicago manager Rick Renteria was ejected from the game, and is the first manager to get tossed this season.
  • The Cardinals kept pace by rallying from a 4-0 deficit to beat the Reds, 7-5. Yadier Molina had three hits, including his third home run of the season.
  • The Brewers, as you likely know, beat the Phillies 10-4.
Here are today's updated standings and probables:
Team  GB  Today  Matchup 
Brewers  --  @ Phillies, 6:05 pm  Matt Garza vs Roberto Hernandez 
Pirates  --  @ Cubs, 7:05 pm  Wandy Rodriguez vs Jason Hammel 
Cardinals  .5  vs Reds, 12:45 pm  Shelby Miller vs Mike Leake 
Cubs  vs Pirates, 7:05 pm  Jason Hammel vs Wandy Rodriguez 
Reds  3.5  @ Cardinals, 12:45 pm  Mike Leake vs Shelby Miller 

A lot is being made of the Brewers being in first place, of course, but they're probably not even the NL's biggest surprise. Until losing last night to drop to 5-3, the Marlins were leading the NL East.

Today in former Brewers:
Compadre Stadium in Chandler, Ariz., isn't a former Brewer, but it was the spring training home of the Crew for over a decade in the 1980s and 90s. Now long-abandoned, it faces the wrecking ball to make room for new homes.

Today in sabermetrics: The Brewers are one of several teams that have dramatically increased their usage of infield shifts in recent years, and Jeff Wiser of Beyond the Box Score asks if the practice is ruining baseball.

It's not Brewer-relevant, but here's an unusual problem: The Astros have retired nine jersey numbers, and will likely soon add two more for recent retirees Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt. Jose De Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle says that's too many and wants the team to find a way to reissue some of them. (h/t BBTF)

Finally, with help from the Baseball Reference Play Index, we'd like to wish a happy birthday today to:
Today is also the 49th anniversary of Houston opening the Astrodome, baseball's first indoor stadium, and starting baseball down the road that eventually led to retractable roof ballparks like Miller Park. I covered that event in Today In Brewer History three years ago

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go knock on wood.

Drink up.

Don't forget to follow Kyle on Twitter @BrewFrostyMug, and check out and "like" the Mug's new Facebook page. The Frosty Mug runs mornings Monday-Friday and is brought to you by Legends of the Field, a sports memorablila company you can trust.




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