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Brewers beat 6/27

June 27, 2010 Comments off

Parra recalls perfect game in Minors

MILWAUKEE — Three years ago this weekend, Brewers lefty Manny Parra had the best performance of his professional career when he tossed a perfect game for Triple-A Nashville.

In his second Pacific Coast League start, Parra retired 27 consecutive batters for the Sounds on June 25, 2007. Current Brewers bullpen coach Stan Kyles remembers the game well, as he was serving as the Sounds’ pitching coach at the time.

“It was the most dominating performance I’ve ever seen,” Kyles said. “He had 11 strikeouts, no balls were put in play hard, and it was just the best performance I’ve seen on the mound up close and personal. It was really impressive.”

What made the perfect game even more impressive was the way Parra’s bullpen session had gone prior to the game.

After struggling in his previous outing, Parra was not confident in his stuff as he warmed up. Once he reached the mound, however, everything changed.

“I remember when I was out in the bullpen, thinking it was going to be a struggle out there that day,” Parra said. “But when I got out to the mound, everything started going my way.

There was one ball, hit about five feet fair toward third, but just before reaching the bag it rolled foul. That was the one where I was like, ‘Wow, this could really happen.'”

Parra’s perfect game was the first thrown in the PCL since the Sounds’ John Wasdin did so on April 7, 2003.

“It’s something I never expected would happen to me,” Parra said. “I’ve always said I was not the kind of pitcher that would ever throw a no-hitter or perfect game because I tend to give up a lot of hits. That day, though, everything just came together for me.”

Gomez striving to be everyday player

MILWAUKEE — When the Brewers brought Carlos Gomez in from Minnesota, he was expected to be the club’s everyday center fielder. Despite his recent struggles, that’s still his goal.

“I want to play everyday no matter what happens at the plate,” Gomez said. “Everybody knows when they signed me that I was supposed to be the everyday center fielder.”

Brewers manager Ken Macha sees the potential in Gomez, but he has had a hard time keeping him in the lineup lately with his struggles at the plate.

For now, it appears as though Gomez will start against left-handed pitching and veteran center fielder Jim Edmonds will get the nod against righties. Like Gomez, though, Macha would like Gomez to improve to the point of facing both right-handers and southpaws.

“The plan was for [Gomez] to face right-handers also,” Macha said. “After he came off the DL and Jimmy was on the DL, he played against right-handers and he struggled.

“So hopefully we’ll get him to the point where he can be an everyday guy.”

For Gomez, the situation is much like the one he faced in Minnesota last season before the Twins traded him to the Brewers.

Gomez struggled to find playing time in a crowded outfield that featured three young outfielders in Delmon Young, Denard Span, and Gomez. According to Gomez, the one benefit of moving to the National League this season is being able to pinch-hit or enter as part of a double switch in any game.

Even with that, however, Gomez is not excited about the situation he’s faced with.

“I don’t want to be in this situation every year,” Gomez said. “I’m only 24 years old, and it’s happened to me two years in a row now. But they know what I can do if I play everyday. Good things can happen.”

Coffey needs time to freshen up to bigs

MILWAUKEE — Only time can help Brewers reliever Todd Coffey get back to the point he was at before going on the disabled list June 6.

Coffey struggled Tuesday in his first outing since returning, allowing two runs to score on two hits, as he did not record an out over three batters faced.

“The first one, probably, he doesn’t want to rehash that one,” said Milwaukee skipper Ken Macha. “[Saturday], he had a little lapse on covering first base, so that wasn’t good. Otherwise, he would’ve had a 1-2-3 inning. He threw the ball good.”

Though he made just one rehab appearance with Triple-A Nashville before returning, Coffey did not believe any additional time with the Sounds would have made a difference.

According to Coffey, pitching in the Minor Leagues does not do nearly as much as getting back into a pressure situation in the Majors after three weeks off.

“The first outing was a little shaky, but it was the first time I was really competitive in almost 20 days,” Coffey said. “Yesterday was definitely a step forward. I feel like I’m getting back on track.

“It’s not about the feeling off the mound down there, it’s about the feeling off the mound up here against big league hitters. It’s just going to take time. I took 20 days off, so it’s just going to take some time to get comfortable again.”

Brewers unveil top moment of 1980s

MILWAUKEE — With nearly 40 percent of the vote, Cecil Cooper’s two-run single in Game 5 of the 1982 ALCS against the Angels was selected as the top Brewers moment from the 1980s in fan and media voting.

Fittingly, all fans in attendance on Sunday received a bobblehead commemorating the hit.

Cooper’s game-winning hit gave the Brewers the American League pennant and advanced the club to its first World Series in franchise history.

Behind Cooper’s single, it was a close race for second place, as two moments from the 1987 season were decided by just 2.2 percent of the vote.

Dale Sveum’s walk-off home run on Easter Sunday, which extended the Brewers’ win streak to 12 games to open the season, edged out Juan Nieves’ no-hitter, which came just four days earlier.

The unveiling of the Top 3 moments from the 1980s occurred at 1 p.m. CT on broadcasts and in Miller Park. The same process will occur for the ’90s and 2000s, with separate polls and reveals for each decade.

On Sept. 3, the polls will open again at Brewers.com and fans will be asked to vote for their Top 3 moments in Brewers history from the group of Top 12 “finalist” moments (Top 3 moments from each decade).

Worth noting

Veteran center fielder Jim Edmonds celebrated his 40th birthday on Sunday. … With his appearance on Saturday, Trevor Hoffman moved into a tie for 11th place on the all-time games pitched list. … Sunday is the Brewers’ final Interleague contest of 2010. Despite going 5-10 last season and just 92-106 in the history of Interleague Play, Milwaukee entered Sunday’s contest with an 8-6 record against the AL this season and is guaranteed a winning record for the sixth time since Interleague Play began in 1997 — the first time since 2007.

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Wolf, Brewers done in by home run balls

June 26, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — In baseball, momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher.

It’s a quote that’s been used several times this season by manager Ken Macha and it came true on Saturday for the Brewers as they lost, 5-4, to the Mariners at Miller Park.

Entering the game riding a season-high five-game winning streak, the Brewers looked to veteran lefty Randy Wolf to help guide them to a sixth consecutive win. Unfortunately for Wolf and the Brewers, the lefty fell victim to something that has plagued him much of the season.

“It was the home run ball again today for Wolfie,” Macha said. “Both those home runs were legit anywhere.”

Wolf (5-7) gave up a solo home run in the third to left fielder Milton Bradley, which put the Mariners on top 2-0 going into the bottom half of the frame.

Wolf answered with a one-out double, which sparked a four-run rally for the Brewers.

After Wolf, second baseman Rickie Weeks drew a walk and right fielder Corey Hart doubled to left, plating both Wolf and Weeks. It was after Weeks scored, though, when things got interesting.

Weeks leveled Mariners catcher Rob Johnson as Bradley’s throw reached the plate, allowing the ball to get away. On the throw, Hart advanced to third, forcing a throw from Mariners starter Doug Fister.

As Fister’s throw got away from third baseman Jose Lopez, an alert Hart scampered home just ahead of the throw, giving Milwaukee a 3-2 lead.

“I’m still tired; I wish there wouldn’t have been that many mistakes so I could’ve stayed there [at second],” Hart joked after the game. “I think my legs were giving out [approaching home plate] and I was going to fall down no matter what, so I just tried to look a little better than it would have been.

“[The ball] kicked back, but I think the third baseman was looking for the outfielder. So I took off because he was kind of in la la land.”

First baseman Prince Fielder followed with a blast deep to right-center field, making it 4-2 in the Brewers’ favor. With that, it appeared as though for the second consecutive game the offense had quickly turned around what looked like was headed for a Brewers loss.

Unfortunately for them, any momentum was quickly lost in the top of the fourth.

Wolf gave up a one-out walk to Chone Figgins, who scored one batter later on a Franklin Gutierrez double. Lopez came up next and belted a 1-0 fastball to left, putting the Mariners back on top, 5-4.

Afterward, the lefty saw a common theme with the two home runs.

“The first was a changeup I threw to Milton Bradley that just got too much of the plate,” Wolf said. “The next one was a fastball that got too much of the plate.”

Making matters worse for the Brewers was the Mariners’ ability to silence the bats of the home team from the fourth inning on. After putting up four runs on three hits in the third, the Crew managed just one hit and zero runs over the final five frames.

Much of the credit for that belonged to reliever Brian Sweeney, who was lights out in his first Major League appearance since Sept. 29, 2006. Sweeney (1-0) tossed four scoreless innings, giving up just the one hit while striking out four.

“It’s been a while,” Sweeney said with a smile. “This is what you grow up as a kid dreaming about. You want to pitch in the big leagues. To get back here again feels just as good as the first time around. It’s always satisfying, no matter what. Being here, being a part of this team. I felt today just as I did in 2003 when I got that call.”

Wolf’s performance was especially disappointing because both he and the Brewers pitching staff as a whole had been performing so well of late.

Entering the game, Milwaukee had gotten nine quality starts over its last 13 games with the starters posting a 3.06 ERA during the same stretch. Brewers starters had gone 7-4 over that period while the team was 8-5.

With Wolf’s performance included, Brewers starters have a 3.29 ERA, having given up 32 earned runs over their last 14 games.

Wolf personally had posted back-to-back quality starts, going seven strong innings in each while giving up a combined three runs on six hits with four strikeouts and seven walks. Perhaps more importantly, Wolf surrendered just one home run in his last two outings.

On Saturday, struggles with his fastball cost Wolf a third straight quality start.

“I didn’t locate my fastball as well as I have my last two starts,” Wolf said. “Pretty much everything rides off your fastball, and when you don’t have good fastball command it’s hard to be successful. That was the story today.”

Brewers beat 6/26

June 26, 2010 Comments off

Davis to get one more rehab start

MILWAUKEE — Lefty Doug Davis is scheduled to start again Wednesday, when he’ll take the mound in Appleton for Class A Wisconsin in his third rehab outing.

After meeting with pitching coach Rick Peterson, bullpen coach Stan Kyles and general manager Doug Melvin earlier in the day, Brewers manager Ken Macha said Saturday they had decided they were not ready to put Davis back in the rotation just yet.

As a result, he’ll pitch for the Timber Rattlers with a target of 100 pitches. After that outing, Macha said he plans on Davis starting for the Brewers again shortly thereafter.

“We’ll fit him in somewhere before the All-Star break and he’ll get his first start back,” Macha said. “There were a whole bunch of reasons and I’m not going to enumerate them, just a whole bunch of reasons.

“Some of them are obvious. We’ve got guys pitching well. We’re going to get him slotted in and we’ve worked on trying to get everything lined up for a series and all the way up to the All-Star break.”

As for the blame as far as keeping Davis on the disabled list for another rehab start, Macha pointed to no one but himself.

“I told him if he’s upset, don’t be upset with anybody else but me,” Macha said. “He wants to get back in to pitch. But he was very understanding and he’s going to get back in to pitch.”

When Davis does return to the rotation, the Brewers could use five or six starters, Macha said. Regardless of what they do, changes will have to be made to both the rotation and the roster to fit Davis in.

As much as Macha would like to get Davis back in to pitch again, he recognizes the status of one starter in particular is not his top priority.

“We’ve got agendas to fill,” Macha said. “The No. 1 agenda is to get everybody in position to pitch well so that we can continue winning some games.”

Gerut, others on DL unsure of return date

MILWAUKEE — While one Brewers starter at least got some plan on Saturday for when he’ll return to the field, the general trend in the clubhouse among injured players seems to be a lack of any target date for their return.

Outfielder Jody Gerut made progress Friday taking batting practice for the first time since going on the disabled list, but remains unsure of when he’ll return from a bruised right heel. Likewise, a pair of Brewers relievers have no clear idea of when they’ll be back.

Veteran right-hander LaTroy Hawkins, who has been on the DL since May 9, is one of those two.

“I just do what [trainer] Roger [Caplinger] tells me,” Hawkins said. “If Roger tells me I can throw off the mound, I’ll throw off the mound. I’m out there though at 150 feet. I think I even got out to 170 feet yesterday, with no pain today.

“I’m just taking my time, but I should be close, because I’m getting out there pretty far.”

Hawkins’ fellow reliever, right-hander Marco Estrada, has been on the DL since June 4 with right shoulder fatigue, retroactive to June 1.

Though he was eligible to return on June 15, Estrada remains very limited in what he is able to do.

“It’s better, I had a cortisone shot a couple days ago,” Estrada said of his shoulder. “The pain’s still kind of there, but it is getting better. I can’t do anything. I have to wait until the doctor says I can start doing stronger work outs.

“Then hopefully I can play some catch, but I really couldn’t even tell you when that will be. I’d like to be back tomorrow, or at least play catch tomorrow, but who knows.”

Worth noting

Legendary broadcaster Bob Uecker was at Miller Park again on Saturday. When asked before the game what the time frame for his return was, Uecker admitted that he was unsure. … Since beginning the season 4-14, the Brewers have gone 11-5 at home, including a 4-1 record in series play. … Milwaukee currently is enjoying a season-high five-game winning streak. … With 13 and 11 hit by pitches, Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder, respectively, are first and second in the Majors. Weeks moved ahead of Fielder with two on Friday.

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs

Brew Crew runs streak to five thanks to rookie

June 25, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — It was a dream come true for Jonathan Lucroy.

After belting his first career home run with a three-run shot in the fourth and a subsequent curtain call, the Brewers rookie catcher will never forget Friday night’s 8-3 victory against Seattle.

Entering the series opener against the Mariners, Lucroy had just one extra-base hit and zero RBIs in his Major League career. Following his performance Friday, he now has three of each.

“It was amazing,” Lucroy said of the curtain call. “I don’t know what happened, but somebody kind of pushed me up there. It was all kind of a blur after I crossed home plate.

“As soon as I did it, [Carlos Gomez] hit a home run and I was like, ‘Man, that’s what I’m talking about.’ I wanted to beat that team tonight.”

Lucroy’s home run to the Brewers bullpen in left-center came on a 1-2 fastball from Mariners lefty Ryan Rowland-Smith.

Two pitches later, Rowland-Smith (1-7) missed with a 1-0 changeup, which Gomez belted to left to put the Brewers on top, 4-3, in the fourth.

“The first time, I was just trying to get it up and in and I left it out over the plate,” Rowland-Smith said. “Gomez I think was sitting [changeup], and I threw a changeup for a strike. That’s two pitches that really cost me, obviously.”

Lucroy and Gomez quickly turned around a game that looked like it was headed for a Brewers loss, and right-handed starter Dave Bush. Over six innings, Bush (3-5) allowed three runs — two earned — on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts.

Once he had the lead, Bush faced just 10 batters over the final three innings of his outing, giving up a pair of singles.

Both times, however, the Mariners who hit safely were thrown out.

First, leading off the fourth, shortstop Jack Wilson was thrown out by left fielder Ryan Braun as he looked to stretch a single into a double. An inning later, Bush got Franklin Gutierrez to bounce a ball to third baseman Casey McGehee, who threw out Chone Figgins as he tried to score from third.

While there was only one out in the inning, Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu felt it was a crucial opportunity for the club to score a run.

“You try to force that fourth run across,” Wakamatsu said. “We haven’t done a very good job of scoring runners, so you take your opportunity there. The thing we talk about is just not hitting the ground ball to third base anytime you’ve got a runner on third base, and we did it.”

Following that out, Bush retired the final four batters he faced, putting himself in line to grab his third win of the season and his second straight.

For Bush, who was pitching on nine days’ rest instead of his usual four, the key was overcoming some early struggles that could be attributed to the long layoff.

“I was a little bit rusty in the first couple innings, I was just trying to find a rhythm,” Bush said. “After that I settled in and I was able to get my fastball back down. In the first couple innings I was up in the zone a lot.

“It was a bit of a challenge to have that much time off, but that’s what I’m faced with right now, so I’ve got to be ready for it and do the best I can.”

Bush’s start was the ninth quality start by a Brewers starter in the club’s last 13 games. Over that stretch, Milwaukee has a 3.02 ERA, giving up 28 earned runs over 83 1/3 innings pitched.

Brewers starters have gone 7-4 during that stretch while the club has posted an 8-5 mark, including a current season-high five-game winning streak.

“It’s been good for everyone,” Bush said. “Overall, we’ve played a lot better lately. … We’ve just been playing better baseball all around. We’ve hit better, we’ve pitched better, we’ve played better defense.

“It lightens the mood all the way around inside here. Guys are more excited about being here, because we’re playing better. We’re playing closer to our potential.”

Even with the winning streak, the story of the night was the performance by Lucroy.

After the home run in the fourth, Lucroy added a walk, a double and a run scored in his final two at-bats, to finish 2-for-3 on the night with a homer, double and three RBIs.

“It’ll be something I’ll always remember,” Lucroy said. “It’s something you work for your whole life. For me, it was since I was 12, being a catcher.

“For something like that to happen in a situation like that, I think for me it’s pretty euphoric and unbelievable.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Brewers beat 6/25

June 25, 2010 Comments off

Zduriencik returns to Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE — For the first time since leaving to become general manager of the Seattle Mariners, former Brewers director of scouting Jack Zduriencik returned to Miller Park on Friday for the clubs’ Interleague series.

“It’s great walking back in here,” Zduriencik said. “It’s nice to see these guys doing so well. All the guys are great. We came in from the right-field line and a lot of the guys came over and said hello.

“It’s good to see so many of them doing so well.”

Zduriencik, who joined the organization in 1999, has been credited by many for putting together the talented young core that the Brewers have been built around for several years.

During his time in Milwaukee, Zduriencik was the first non-general manager to receive the Major League Executive of the Year Award from Baseball America in 2007.

Some notable selections during Zduriencik’s time with the Brewers include Corey Hart in 2000, Manny Parra in ’01, Prince Fielder in ’02, Rickie Weeks in ’03, Yovani Gallardo in ’04, Ryan Braun in ’05 and Jonathan Lucroy in ’07.

Since leaving the Brewers, however, Zduriencik has not enjoyed as much success in Seattle as he, or anyone else in the organization would have liked. In particular the club’s offense has struggled quite a bit

Of late, though, the team has been on a hot streak, winning six of its last seven.

“We’ve played well lately, unfortunately the club ahead of us has played a little bit better,” Zduriencik said. “[The Rangers] have won 11 in a row. We play good and we lose ground. So we’ll see what happens, though … there’s a lot of season to be played.”

While he’ll finally get to see his former club in person this weekend, Zduriencik said he keeps up on the Brewers quite a bit along with his duties as the Seattle general manager.

Zduriencik also said he hoped to face the Brewers again after this weekend.

“I watch the Brewers all the time,” Zduriencik said. “I told all these guys out here today that I’m proud of what they’ve done. I pull for them all the time. I’d love for them to win this division and go on.

“It would be a dream come true to be able to play this club in the World Series.”

Davis takes next step toward return

MILWAUKEE — While lefty Doug Davis made his second of two planned rehab starts on Thursday, the Brewers do not plan to make a decision on his next step until Saturday.

Pitching in his second rehab start for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds, Davis quieted the Memphis Redbirds over an impressive five-inning outing. Davis threw 82 pitches, giving up just two hits and one walk while striking out nine batters.

“Everything went well,” Davis said. “I don’t know what their plan for me is yet. All I know is, I’m ready, so it’s up to them now when they’re ready for me.”

Manager Ken Macha said that he planned to meet with pitching coach Rick Peterson, bullpen coach Stan Kyles and general manager Doug Melvin on Saturday to discuss the future of the pitching staff and in particular, their plan for Davis.

“We’re going to have a huge summit tomorrow,” Macha said. “Rick, Stan Kyles, myself and Doug will sit down and probably talk for five minutes. So it’ll be a huge summit. It’ll be along the lines of the Russian president and Obama, the meeting they just had.

“We’ll try to figure it out, it’s nice that he’s healthy and he threw the ball well last night.”

Macha added that he had his own idea for what might happen, but was unsure whether it would be the consensus opinion.

Additionally, he noted one part of the plan that he knew for certain.

“He pitched the same day that [Yovani Gallardo] pitched,” Macha said. “So I don’t think he’s going to pitch on Yo’s day.”

Gerut takes batting practice

MILWAUKEE — Nearly a month after going on the disabled list with a bruised right heel, outfielder Jody Gerut took batting practice on Friday for the first time since the injury.

Gerut, who went on the disabled list on June 7 — retroactive to May 27 — said everything felt fine in his first session at the plate in more a month.

“I’m finally making some improvements, I’d say I’m probably about halfway there,” Gerut said. “It was nice to be back on the field again and break a sweat.”

Despite the positives that came out of his session, Gerut remained unsure of when he would be able to return to the active roster.

“I really don’t know, I wish I could be more specific, but I can’t do it,” Gerut said. “It’s been a month and they were targeting two to three days. So with that wide of a range, how could I possibly put a date on it in the future?”

Brewers manager Ken Macha said that he too was unsure whether Gerut would return anytime soon, but seemed to think it would be later rather than sooner.

“I can’t tell you where he is,” Macha said. “I’m sure he’s going to have to go play some games. He’s going to have to run, too. I’d say he’s a while yet, but we’re all happy that he at least he took some BP today.”

After sitting for more than a month, Gerut certainly is eager to get back to game action.

“I’m bored, I find this whole thing uninteresting,” Gerut said. “I’m not having fun not playing. I’d rather be playing.”

Braun dines with fans at new restaurant

LAKE GENEVA — As Ryan Braun opened his second restaurant on Thursday, he was greeted by a huge crowd of fans who had traveled near and far to meet the left fielder.

One family drove more than 10 hours from their Michigan home to meet Braun. The reception was a bit of a shock for Braun.

“This is far more people than I expected to see come out here tonight,” Braun said. “I was expecting more of a low key, quiet, private gathering. But it’s great, I’m really impressed.”

Ryan Braun’s Tavern and Grill, located at 430 Broad Street in Lake Geneva, Wis., saw an impressive turnout as it opened its doors for the first time.

According to Tom Romano, who owns the restaurant along with Braun, the restaurant seated an estimated 400 customers, while an additional estimated 600 patrons were in attendance to see Braun throughout the night.

After arriving just after 7:30 p.m., Braun finally managed to get a bite to eat around 9 p.m. It was the first time Braun had tried anything on the menu, and the budding restaurateur was impressed once again.

“It was great, I got to take some time and try a few different appetizers and desserts along with my meal,” Braun said. “I had the filet, and everything I had was just great. Our chef does an excellent job.”

Braun, who said he used to get down to Lake Geneva on every Brewers off-day, expects to make more trips down to the city now that his restaurant has opened.

Though much of his night was filled with almost constant requests for autographs and photographs, Braun said one of the best parts of the night was getting to meet his fans.

“It’s awesome, the community here in Lake Geneva is great,” Braun said. “I’ve been here a lot, but I’ve never really met many of the people who live in the area. They’ve all been very nice and given a lot of feedback, both about the Brewers and the restaurant.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

The ’80s were a banner decade for Crew

June 25, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — If you were at County Stadium on that late October day in 1982, you might never guess the celebration was for the World Series runners-up.

When Robin Yount circled the warning track at County Stadium on a Harley Davison motorcycle, the crowd of more than 20,000 fans was thrilled for the return of their beloved Milwaukee Brewers.

To this day, the Brewers’ 1982 team is adored by fans for giving Milwaukee its first World Series since the Milwaukee Braves won back-to-back National League pennants in 1957-58.

After finishing the previous decade with what remains the club’s best record to date in 1979, the Brewers enjoyed their greatest success of any decade in the 1980s, finishing .500 or better five times while reaching the playoffs twice and making the franchise’s only World Series appearance in ’82.

This weekend, as a part of the 40th anniversary of the move from Seattle, the Brewers are celebrating and reflecting on the club’s second decade in Milwaukee. On Friday, the team will wear reproductions of its 1978-89 uniforms, highlighted by pinstripes with “BREWERS” block letters on the front and the ball and glove logo on the cap. The Mariners will wear light blue road uniforms worn from 1981-84.

On Sunday, all fans in attendance will get a bobblehead doll commemorating Cecil Cooper’s base hit to drive home the winning runs in Game 5 of the 1982 American League Championship Series.

Harvey’s Wallbangers
While nearly everyone’s first thought of great Brewers teams goes immediately to the 1982 squad, the 1981 team was impressive in its own right.

With a 62-47 record, the Brewers finished with the best overall mark in the AL East and earned a playoff berth for their second-half record due to the split schedule that season caused by the players’ strike from June 12 to Aug. 10.

But while the Brewers lost the division series to the Yankees, three games to two, the 1981 season is remembered fondly by the players involved.

“That was probably our best team, we just jumped out in front and never looked back,” said Rollie Fingers, who won the AL MVP and Cy Young Awards in 1981. “It was a shame we had the strike in the middle of it, but it may have helped me.

“I remember I only gave up one earned run in Milwaukee that year. It was on a triple to Freddie Patek, I remember. It was one of those years where nothing went wrong.”

Following the club’s first-ever playoff appearance in 1981, expectations were high for the Brewers in 1982. Through the season’s first two months, however, things did not go as planned.

After the Brewers struggled to a 23-24 record on June 1, manager Buck Rodgers was fired in favor of Harvey Kuenn. With that, Harvey’s Wallbangers were born.

“When I think about the 1982 season, that’s the first thing that comes to mind: Harvey’s Wallbangers,” said Robin Yount, who won the first of his two AL MVP awards in 1982. “We worked hard, but we had a lot of fun that season, too. We wanted to win it for Harvey, and we did it his way.”

Over the last four months of the season, the Brewers went 72-43 to finish first in the AL East, one game ahead of the Baltimore Orioles. After losing in the division series the year before, the Brewers returned to the playoffs for the second time in franchise history.

As they squared off with the California Angels in the AL Championship Series, the Brewers immediately dropped the first two games of the series in Anaheim. But as the series returned to Milwaukee, the Brewers swept all three games at County Stadium, including a thrilling 4-3 victory to clinch the AL pennant.

Milwaukee loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh, which led to the most famous single of Cooper’s career, a two-run hit that put the Brewers on top and won the series.

After winning the ALCS, the Brewers were set to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the “Suds Series,” the first World Series in club history. Though they fell short in Game 7, the 1982 season remains fresh in the memories of players and fans alike.

“My career might be over, and the games are in the past, but the memories, those last forever,” second baseman Jim Gantner said. “That group of guys we had those years, it was unique. No matter how many teams you look at, I don’t think you could find another with so many characters like we had. It was incredible.”

“Pitching was the difference”
But the Brewers would not make it back to the playoffs in the 1980s.

Despite having much the same ballclub as the previous two seasons, the Brewers dropped from first in the AL East in 1981-82 to fifth in ’83, seventh in ’84 and sixth in ’85 and ’86.

In looking back, Yount sees a distinct difference between the successful clubs of the 1981-82 seasons and those that never made it back to the playoffs in the years following that success.

“Pitching was the difference,” Yount said. “I think that’s true of any great team. Look at any team that wins a championship, they’ve probably got great pitching.”

When asked if it was disappointing not to make it back to the playoffs in his career, Yount did not hold back his feelings on the matter.

“Of course it was disappointing,” Yount said. “That’s an understatement.”

Though they still would not reach the playoffs over the decade’s final three seasons, the 1987 team would provide plenty of memories.

And all within the first two weeks.

Streaking
To open what turned out to be a wild and wacky season, the Brewers tied a Major League record, winning its first 13 games of the year. One month later, the club lost 12 in a row.

But the 13-game stretch to open the season is among many Brewers fans’ favorite memories. Along the way, two highlights stand out.

First, in the team’s ninth game of the season, lefty Juan Nieves tossed the first no-hitter in franchise history, blanking the Orioles on April 15, 1987, at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.

Nieves became the first Puerto Rican-born pitcher to toss a no-hitter, but he couldn’t do it without a little help from Yount, who made a tremendous no-hitter-saving catch in center field for the 27th and final out.

“There’s no way I wasn’t going to catch that ball,” Yount said. “When I saw it, I just took off running. There’s no time to think in that kind of situation. So I just reacted and luckily I got there and was able to be part of the Brewers’ only no-hitter.”

Three days later, the current Brewers hitting coach delivered the most famous home run in Brewers history, on Easter Sunday no less.

With the winning streak on the line, the Brewers headed to the ninth down, 4-1. At that point, the might have Brewers thought it was over, as did their fans. With that in mind, the crowd of 29,357 gave a standing ovation in appreciation for the 11-game win streak.

But it was far from over.

With two on and one out, slugger Rob Deer crushed a 1-0 curveball out to left, tying the game at 4-4. Rookie B.J. Surhoff followed Deer with a strikeout, but after a walk was drawn by Gantner, the switch-hitting Dale Sveum had a chance to make it 12 in a row.

He did just that.

With a full count, Sveum got a cut fastball, waist-high over the middle of the plate. Sveum jumped on it and blasted a two-run walk-off homer, sending County Stadium into a frenzy, as the Brewers had won their 12th straight to start the season.

“It was one of those games where nobody really wanted to leave,” said Brewers infielder Craig Counsell, a Wisconsin native who stood in the stands that day as a 16-year-old. “If you were there, you’d remember it.”

Later that season, Paul Molitor drew national attention when he hit in a team record 39 straight games. It remains the seventh-longest hitting streak in big league history, and fifth-longest since 1900.

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gallardo tosses five-hitter to cap sweep

June 25, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — Through 5 1/3 innings on Thursday, Yovani Gallardo was perfect. After nine innings, the Brewers ace had turned in the best pitching performance of his career.

Gallardo (7-3) even had two hits of his own before allowing any Thursday as the Brewers beat the Twins, 5-0, to complete a three-game sweep at Miller Park. It was the first Milwaukee sweep of Minnesota since 1996, and the first one at home since 1995.

Entering the sixth, Gallardo was four innings away from becoming the third pitcher in the Majors this season and the first in Brewers history to toss a perfecto. Two batters later, an opposite-field single to right by Twins catcher Drew Butera broke up the perfect game.

In the end, Gallardo still tossed his third career complete game and second career shutout while tying his career high with 12 strikeouts. Gallardo, who tossed 122 pitches, gave up just five hits and did not walk a batter for the first time since April 24, 2009, at Houston.

“That was a pretty awesome display of pitching today,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said. “No walks, so that’s an indication what his command was. Twelve strikeouts, only five hits. Pretty awesome. And on top of that, he starts the [four-run, third-inning] rally with a double.”

Scoring runs in his at-bats in the third and fourth, Gallardo helped the Brewers provide more than enough offense against Twins starter Nick Blackburn (6-5), who lasted just 3 2/3 innings, surrendering five runs on five hits, walking three and striking out two.

Gallardo’s one-out double in the third led to a four-run inning for the Brewers, featuring two-run home runs by Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder.

“We played good baseball today,” Gallardo said. “We were able to get some runs up there early and get some big hits.

“I’m just going up there trying to help myself out and get on base.”

Amid the excitement of Gallardo’s outing, second baseman Weeks extended his hitting streak to six games with a two-run home run — his 12th of the season — in the third while adding a walk and single in the fourth and sixth innings.

Fielder followed Weeks’ home run with a two-run blast of his own two batters later, his 14th of the season. Despite entering the game batting just a combined 2-for-13 against Blackburn, Fielder and Weeks took advantage of some mistakes by the Minnesota righty.

Macha said he planned to ask bench coach Willie Randolph after the sixth inning if he’d seen a perfect game in his career, but that was before Butera’s single broke up the bid for perfection.

While Gallardo said it was too early to think about it, Fielder acknowledged that it was easy to realize what was going on.

“I don’t know about the perfect game, but you look up there [at the scoreboard] and you saw no hits,” Fielder said. “You knew he was doing well. So, I just wanted him to keep it up regardless of what happens. I just wanted him to keep throwing like he was.”

Though Gallardo allowed five hits over the final four innings, he continued to impress. After striking out just five batters through five innings, Gallardo tallied seven strikeouts in the last four. Nine of Gallardo’s 12 strikeouts came over the final five innings.

Gallardo recorded his eighth career double-digit strikeout performance and his fifth of the season. The last time Gallardo had 12 strikeouts in a game was July 1, 2009.

Over his past six starts, Gallardo has allowed six earned runs on 29 hits in 44 innings of work. Gallardo’s ERA over that stretch is just 1.23, while he’s averaged one earned run on just under five hits per game.

“My command is getting a lot better,” Gallardo said of his recent success. “I’m able to throw my curveball for strikes, slider, changeup, and just mix everything in. … It makes a huge difference.”

Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, who was the only batter to hit safely twice in the game for Minnesota, was impressed by what he saw from Gallardo.

“He was definitely tough,” Morneau said. “He’s got a lot of late life on his fastball. The breaking ball is pretty good, [but] I think his best pitch is the fastball. That sets up everything else. It’s hard enough where you can’t just look offspeed and catch up to it. It’s pretty good.”

The Brewers’ sweep was their first of three or more games against the Twins since May 17-20, 1996, at the Metrodome and the first in Milwaukee since Aug. 24-27, 1995, at County Stadium.

Additionally, the club matched a season high with four consecutive victories, which it has done once previously in 2010, when it took the series finale at Washington and swept the Pirates in Pittsburgh from April 18-22.

Milwaukee also earned its third sweep of the season and its first at home. With six more home games to follow and 13 in their next 17 overall, the Brewers appear poised to make a run at getting back to the .500 mark.

“It’s big for us,” Gallardo said of the sweep. “We’ve got a great team here. It’s just a matter of getting things together, and we showed that these three games here at home. Hopefully we can continue it.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.