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Performer of the game: Brewers slugger Braun

October 2, 2011

MILWAUKEE — Ryan Braun is starting to make a habit of consistently performing well in big games. And the more he does it, the more it comes to be expected.

When Braun crushed a 2-1 pitch from D-backs right-hander Daniel Hudson over the fence and just under the scoreboard in center in the first inning, it hardly came as a surprise. His two-out double to start a rally in the third? That’s just what Braun does.

A lot of things have been written and said to describe Braun, but Brewers starter Zack Greinke, a man of few words, summed it up nicely after Sunday’s 9-4 victory in Game 2 of the National League Division Series.

“When he gets hot, it’s just a little hotter than he normally is,” Greinke said. “But that’s really good. Because when he’s normal, it’s better than most people when they’re hot.”

The most unlikely thing Braun did Sunday came in the fifth inning, when he worked the count to 2-1, and then 3-2, before being called out on strikes. An inning later, when he came up with two on and one out in the middle of the Brewers’ five-run sixth, he delivered, singling to drive in a run.

Braun finished 3-for-4 on the day with three RBIs and two runs scored and fell just a triple shy of the cycle. With consecutive three-hit games, Braun is 6-for-8 this postseason with a homer, two doubles, three RBIs and four runs.

In six career playoff games, Braun is batting .458 (11-for-24) with one home run, four doubles, five RBIs and four runs scored.

“He doesn’t stop,” said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. “That’s a good pitcher they have out there, and he really puts quality at-bats together to get those hits.”

The obvious gameplan for the D-backs, and any other team that might face the Brewers this season, is to not let Braun or Prince Fielder beat them. That has not exactly worked for Arizona so far as the duo has nine hits, two homers and six RBIs between them in two games.

“They’re good hitters,” said D-backs manager Kirk Gibson. “There’s not much room for error when they’re swinging the bats the way they are right now.”

Down the stretch and in the postseason in 2008, the key for the Brewers was CC Sabathia — although Braun also delivered a few timely hits and home runs.

This year, Braun has arguably been the Brewers’ most important player. He put up numbers worthy of NL Most Valuable Player honors with 33 home runs, 111 RBIs, 33 stolen bases, a .597 slugging percentage and an OPS of .994.

Through two games, he has certainly made his case for being the most valuable player in this NLDS as well.

“Talking about the difference between ’08 and now, we were all kind of young and looking for that impact. And Ryan’s been our impact,” Brewers right fielder Corey Hart said. “He’s stepped up his game, [and] that’s helped us as a team. He’s a big reason why we’re at 2-0. He wants the big situation, and we like to give it to him.”

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

Categories: Uncategorized
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