Home > Uncategorized > Brewers beat 7/11

Brewers beat 7/11

July 11, 2010

Hart joins Braun as All-Start starter

MILWAUKEE — What a week it has been for Corey Hart.

A week ago, Hart was named to the All-Star Game for the second time as a reserve outfielder for the National League.

One week later, he has been added to the starting lineup.

Hart, who will participate in Monday’s Home Run Derby, was announced Sunday as the replacement for injured Braves outfielder Jason Heyward, joining teammate Ryan Braun in the starting outfield for the NL.

“I was excited, then I got really excited when Brauny came in and kind of like jumped on me,” said Hart, who hit a two-run walk-off homer, his 21st, to cap the Brewers’ 6-5 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday. “We haven’t had two position players in the starting lineup for I don’t know how long. So it’s a pretty good moment for us.”

It’s the first time in 27 years that the Brewers will have two position players in the starting lineup as Braun and Hart share the outfield in Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Anaheim.

The last pair of Brewers position players to start together in the All-Star Game were catcher Ted Simmons and shortstop Robin Yount for the American League in 1983.

Braun, who is the first Brewers player to start in the All-Star Game three straight years, joined Ben Sheets in the starting lineup in 2008, as Sheets was the starting pitcher for the NL.

For Hart, the starting nod just adds to an already impressive first half of the season.

After struggling for much of the 2009 season, Hart had a poor Spring Training, leading to his benching on Opening Day.

Hart expressed his displeasure with being taken out of the Opening Day starting lineup but used that move as the motivation behind his surprising resurgence.

It has paid off so far as he has moved from the No. 7 spot in the batting order to No. 2, becoming one of manager Ken Macha’s most reliable hitters.

More importantly, though, Hart earned the respect of the rest of the league, as he was voted into the All-Star Game by his peers.

“It’s pretty nice,” Hart said of being added to the starting lineup after all he has been through this season. “It’s an extra stamp on the, ‘I told you so,’ I guess. I love it here, and I wanted to prove to them that I could be the guy again.

“I’ve always told them I wanted to be here and I want to stay here as long as they’ll let me. Obviously they were down on me, so I wanted to prove them wrong so they could get a good feeling about me again.”

Hawkins’ rehab stint starts Thursday

MILWAUKEE — After two months on the disabled list, LaTroy Hawkins finally will return to game action on Thursday, for the Brewers’ rookie league team in Arizona.

Hawkins is scheduled to pitch one inning in Arizona against the Cubs’ rookie league squad. If all goes according to plan in that outing for Hawkins, the veteran reliever will go to Nashville to continue his rehab with the Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate.

“I don’t know exactly what the schedule is, but he’s going to get back-to-back days and he’s going to get a two-inning stint also,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said. “Hopes are that he may be back around the Cincinnati series [on July 26-28].”

The true test over the next two weeks for Hawkins will be the back-to-back days he pitches with Nashville, Macha said based on his conversation with pitching coach Rick Peterson.

“It’s broken up into back-to-back days and then a two-inning stint, and I think the back-to-back days are right before the Cincinnati series,” Macha said. “Rick’s feeling is if he’s fine after the back-to-back days he should be ready to join us.”

No slowing Axford’s surprising rise

MILWAUKEE — If anyone said they saw this coming from John Axford, they’d be lying.

Since being called up on May 15, Axford has emerged as the Brewers’ closer, something no one would have expected in Spring Training with the all-time saves leader, Trevor Hoffman, on the roster.

Axford, a 27-year-old native of Ontario, Canada, hasn’t just taken hold of the closer’s role for the Brewers either. He’s been consistently dominant in the late innings for the Crew.

“Who knew he was going to come and do this?” manager Ken Macha said of Axford.

With his save in Saturday’s win over the Pirates, Axford maintained his perfect mark, having converted 10-of-10 save opportunities. Along with that impressive streak, Axford is 4-1 with a 2.88 ERA.

Axford made his 22nd appearance of the season Saturday, and finally surrendered the first home run — a solo shot by catcher Ryan Doumit — of his Major League career.

“We got the win, we got the save, that’s all that matters,” Axford said. “Obviously I don’t want to give up that home run, the first one of my career. It was going to happen at some point or another if I want to keep going in this game, obviously.

“It’d probably be a miracle if I didn’t give up one if I kept playing.”

Axford has quickly become a fan favorite, due in large part to his facial hair.

When first called up, Axford sported a handlebar mustache, the ends of which he occasionally curled, giving him a look reminiscent of former Brewers closer and Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers.

He has since switched to a different look with the mustache, but remains a favorite among Brewers fans as he continues to impress in the ninth. After being called up in September 2009, Axford’s goal was to return to the big leagues in 2010 out of Spring Training.

He had to wait until May, but his first two months in the big leagues this season have been better than anyone could have predicted.

“It’s been great, it’s been fun,” Axford said. “Coming out of that ‘pen, obviously the emotions are going and everything like that. But on the mound, I try to calm it.

“Outside those lines, everything’s been fantastic, it’s been great. I’m feeling happy all the time no matter what’s really going on. I’m happy to be here, especially in the situation I’ve been put in to have the confidence and the trust of the staff. It’s been a blessing.”

Braddock becomes reliable source of relief

MILWAUKEE — Three rough outings aside, Zach Braddock has been as reliable as any Brewers reliever since being called up in late May.

Braddock surrendered four runs in the ninth inning of a 10-4 loss to the Mets on May 30, one run in an inning against the Cubs on June 9 and three runs to the Rockies in just two-thirds of an inning on June 19.

In his other 16 appearances through Saturday, Braddock had not allowed a run.

It adds up to a 1-1 record with a 4.32 ERA in those 19 appearances for Braddock, who also had allowed five of 13 inherited runners to score.

“I’ve had my struggles, but I’ve also had my successes,” Braddock said. “Learning this road is keeping those as evenly keeled as possible. You never want to have those bad days, but it’s how you pick up off them and how you come out the next day and get right back at it.”

Since giving up three runs in Colorado on June 19, Braddock entered Sunday having pitched 6 2/3 innings over eight appearances without allowing a run. He also has given up just six hits and one walk over the same stretch while recording seven strikeouts.

In his time with the big league club, Braddock has been fortunate to spend every game in the bullpen alongside all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman. The experience has been invaluable for Braddock.

“A lot of the older guys have helped me, but obviously, the no-brainer is Trevor Hoffman,” Braddock said. “His experience speaks volumes over my time here. And I don’t even have to seek out help. Sometimes all it takes is to observe his daily routine.”

In addition to the veterans on the club, though, Braddock has benefited from playing alongside a couple young players like himself in catcher Jonathan Lucroy and closer John Axford.

For Braddock, the familiarity with Lucroy and Axford has only made his experience in the Majors that much better.

“It’s always great to have friends with you, and it’s always great to have guys who you can bounce the experience off,” Braddock said. “We’re all going through this together.

“With the bond that Jonathan and I have, it can only strengthen that between us as a battery. And with Ax and I, it can only make us better to share our experiences out there with each other.”

Manager Ken Macha named fellow relievers Kameron Loe and Axford as “pleasant surprises” before Sunday’s game.

As for Braddock, however, his performance has been about what Macha and the Brewers had expected out of the lefty.

“He’s been in some games where he’s done extremely well,” Macha said. “He’s gotten hit hard here, too. Kameron Loe, he’s an invitee to Major League camp and then he comes in and has the impact he’s had. I’d say that’s a bigger surprise.

“We all knew Braddock had great stuff.”

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

%d bloggers like this: