The 2014 Milwaukee Brewers are off with a tremendous start to the season in the first 42 games. This is especially terrific given the difficult schedule they have had facing mostly teams who made 2013 play-offs. This included 16 games against teams in our division.
On May 16, on “Babe Ruth Bobble Head Day,” the short-handed (no Carlos Gomez, Aramis Ramirez or Ryan Braun) the Brewers held on to a 4 to 3 victory. It was a cold, damp, dreary, 38 degree day game at historic Wrigley Field against the hapless Cubs. While the announced crowd was 35,771, it appeared many of the fans were disguised as empty seats. Cub errors and a passed ball assisted the timely hitting Brewers in scoring two runs in each of the first two frames. “Sugar” Segura delivered what turned out to be game winning hit with two outs and runners on second and third in the second inning. “Light’s out” lefty reliever Will Smith zeroed the Cubs in the 8th in relief of Kyle Lohse, who recorded his fifth win. Steady Francisco Rodriquez saved it in the ninth. After the game, Manager Ron Roenicke was quoted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as saying: “That was a good one.”
The list of “good wins” starts for me with the victory opening day against the Atlanta Braves. Yovani Gollardo pitched great, and the bullpen held out through the final out to save it, 2 – 0. If the Brewers did not win that first one, the team would have been swept in the opening series by tough Braves squad that was pitching and playing well. Winning that opener avoided a zero win and three loss start – a possible crusher going into the next three games in Boston.
The next good win came on the Friday, opening night of the three game set in Fenway Park with Willy Peralta hurling. Playing at venerable Fenway Park is tough enough, but facing the reigning World Series Champion is going from the frying pan into the fire. Yet our young and future star slammed the door again, and the hitters came through in the clutch. Suddenly, this evened up the season at two wins and two losses. Things did not seem so bad losing two straight to Atlanta then, and the team was not really in either of those two low scoring losing efforts. The Brew Crew were back playing .500 ball, and it has not looked back since. Did winning the first game of the series surprise the cocky Bostonites? Maybe, as it led the way to taking the next two games as well for the unexpected “sweep” and a three game winning streak. In the following east coast series, it was also nice of the team in the City of Brotherly Love to be so gracious as to let the Brewers follow that with four straight road wins there. What a seven game road trip winning streak! But it was all set up by winning that first one on that early April Friday night in Boston, so I call it the second “Good Win.”
As a guest at a Brewers season ticket holder luncheon I asked Asst. Manager Jerry Narron his thoughts on “good wins?” He came up with the back-to-back wins on the road at St. Louis to take the series there 2 to 1 on 28th and 29th of April. Every win against the arch rival Cardinals is a good win, but I would also throw in the victory over the Birds at Miller Park on the 16th of April in the third game of that series which avoided a sweep against us.
Scooter Gennett volunteered from his perspective “good wins” were the back-to-back extra inning wins in games at Pittsburgh on Easter weekend, which included the brawl on Easter Sunday. These were sweet with the exception of losing back-up catcher Maldanado for a five game suspension who landed a haymaker on a Pirate player. The team also ultimately lost all-star Carlos Gomez for three games that he just recently finished serving as he nursed his sore back. The Brewers even won two of those three games without our best position player in the line-up, which is another good sign.
These are the kinds of wins championship teams get. The fans can finally be on the high side of, “It’s a long season” when we have to recover emotionally from a loss. Now the really exciting part is what is yet to come! Part of baseball’s charm when a team is winning is that each game won increases in meaning the importance of the next game on the schedule every day of the season. Fasten your seatbelts!
Despite playing short-handed, the Brewers ball club just looked sharp, crisp, confident, and hungry for victory in comparison to the listless Cubs on cold May 16 at the friendly confines. So let the good times roll! Let’s play ball!
J. D. Thorne